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Suicide, Homicide, and Psychological Theories


Suicide refers to the act where an individual initiates their sudden death willingly. There are many causes of suicidal behavior. They include depression, schizophrenia and stressful issues. Essentially, people who try to commit suicide exhibit serious psychological disturbances, which make them, feel that death is the only permanent solution to the issues troubling them. Some may be trying to escape from an embarrassing situation, rejection and feelings of guilt. Evidently, teenagers harbor suicidal tendencies due to the adolescent tribulations, peer pressure and low self-esteem.

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The Dynamics of Suicide

Suicidal people exhibit abnormal characteristics. Most of them feel overwhelmed by a stressful condition that makes them hopeless. Such a person has a strong feeling of fear that is more than that of death (Durkheim, Spaulding & Simpson, 2002). Regular rejection makes them shun life and attempt suicide. Moreover, they have a strained cognitive state which makes them embrace suicide as the best way to handle problems. Therefore, the suicidal tendencies build up with time. If such a person fails to find a timely solution to their problems, they exhibit a change of behavior and often express their intention through verbal clues. Additionally, they change their behavior especially in their social life (Shneidman, 1998). They sulk and are reluctant to disclose their problems to relatives and friends. Robbins (1998) adds “depression is a characteristic emotional state of many persons attempting suicide” (p. 41).

Theories of Suicide

The Interpersonal Theory

The interpersonal theory of suicide suggests that people commit suicide because they would wish to die to escape from their problems. The theory identifies three causes of suicidal tendencies: poor sense of belongingness, unresolved psychological burden and hopelessness. When a person’s identity status is not clear, they may feel confused, embarrassed and their social life deteriorates. The theory blames identity crisis and lack of good avenues to solve problems as the main causes of suicidal behavior.

Emile Durkheim’s Theory

Emile Durkheim’s theory of suicide identifies the probable causes of suicide. According to the theory, a person may commit suicide due to poor social integration. The individuals may lack enough psychosocial support to help them cope with life’s challenges. Such people exhibit poor ego due to insufficient social networks around them. Durkheim blames the society for porous regulations to control people’s actions. He believes that social problems, such as economic crisis, influence people’s actions especially when they cannot cope with the depression. The theory also suggests that one may commit suicide if they feel that the rules in place deny them freedom.

Moral Dilemma

Suicide raises many moral questions as to whether it is due to lack of proper guidance or not. However, the dynamics of moral dilemma lay doubts on whether one should take away their lives or not. Religious activists believe that it is the Supreme Being who gives life, thus, He should take it away. Therefore, the question of suicide is strictly unacceptable. It raises a dilemma over the viability of guidance and counseling to a hopeless person because many people who commit suicide may have sought other avenues without success. Therefore, suicide is a moral dilemma because it is believed that one’s family ought to offer support in times of need.

Such form of suicide as assisted suicide sparks off a debate over whether it should be legal or not. In some cases, health practitioners find themselves at a tough end when a terminally ill patient requests for untimely death. On the one hand, the patient is going through untold suffering and misery and there is no chance of survival. On the other hand, if they administer suicide, they violate the professional ethics. Hence, they may face judicial prosecution for murder.

Characteristics of People who Commit Suicide

People who commit suicide exhibit certain antisocial characteristics. Many become hopeless once they start harboring feelings of suicide. They have a negative attitude towards many aspects of life and they tend to avoid people. Suicidal people appear depressed and have an innate fear of a force. They may also have underlying social-cognitive problems. They cannot concentrate or make sound decisions and they tend to give out their resources. Moreover, they lose interest in their hobbies and may indulge in self-destructive tendencies such as drug abuse and promiscuity.

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Homicide and Suicide

Suicide refers to one’s action of initiating death while homicide is when a person kills the other one. Homicide is similar to suicide in that the two result to untimely death. The perpetrators of both homicide and suicide may be individuals with serious psychological problems. Therefore, in all the cases, it is a human being who takes away life.

Triage Assessment Form

According to Roberts (2005), “intervention priority scale is a triage assessment method used extensively in crisis intervention and suicide prevention programs” (p. 44). Triage assessment helps in the examination of a crisis through the evaluation of the three domains: cognitive, affective and behavioral. The affective domain assesses the primary cause of a negative action such as suicide.The factors that fall under the affective domain include issues such as fear, regret and anger. The cognitive domain deals with one’s perception of events and situations. Some of the behavioral issues of a psychologically disturbed person include individualism and self-destruction. Intervention priority helps unearth the cause of suicide through a crisis examination of the individual.


Suicidal attempts do not always result to death because the nature of some of them can be reversed. For instance, when one takes poison and cries once they cannot bear the pain, chances are that someone may rescue them. It is important to administer proper treatment to a suicidal person. Apart from medical attention, they need psychological intervention to help them cope with underlying social and emotional challenges that drive them to suicide.


Durkheim, E, Spaulding, J. A, & Simpson, G. (2002). Suicide: A Study in Sociology. London: Routldege.

Roberts, A. R. (2005). Crisis Intervention Handbook: Assessment, Treatment and Research. New York: Oxford University Press.

Robbins, P. R. (1998). Adolescent Suicide. Jefferson: McFarland.

Shneidman, E. S. (1998). The Suicidal Mind. New York: Oxford University Press.

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