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The Crisis of Lethality: Suicide as Health Phenomenon

Suicide has been a troubling phenomenon worldwide. The latest statistics indicate that suicide is a killer in America (American Association of Suicidology, 2005). Statistics further show that the American population looses approximately 80 people per day in suicide related cases and about 750,000 people attempt suicide each year. This tear-jerking occurrence replicates the suffering caused by suicide. Having determined the weight of the situation, the need to develop further studies on the crisis of lethality would be significant. This paper develops a critical analysis of the crisis of lethality and provides a framework on the dynamics of suicide and its similarities with homicide. The paper further discusses on the moral dilemma caused by suicide, the characteristics of people who commit suicide, and the use of the triangle assessment form in addressing lethality.

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Dynamics of Suicide

The forces surrounding suicidal attempts are not fully understood due to the complexity in suicidal behaviors. Nevertheless, different investigators have produced theories to account for the dynamics surrounding the high salary increase in suicide. Theories developed include biological, sociological and psychological dynamics.

Biological research emphasizes on the relationship between suicide and the operation of the human mind. Studies propose that body disorders may be induced by defects in genetics resulting from chromosomal abnormalities, and environmental strains that may cause abnormalities in the human head. This, in turn, may contribute to the growth of abnormal behaviors due to causes that are not within human control (Yousuf 2011).

The psychological dynamics of suicide correlate with the functioning of the human brain, including human thoughts, emotions and behaviors. The interpersonal-psychological theory proposes that individuals cannot commit suicide unless they acknowledge the capability and wish to do so (Joiner, 2005). The theory further asserts that, the wish to commit suicide can be induced by a person’s psychological state of apparent burdensome and isolation. In this case, people view themselves as existing burdens to the society and feel that death is worth that everyone around them (Joiner, 2005).

Surveys indicate that sociological dynamics of suicide correlate with social components that lead to ill health. Social factors include societal, ethnic and communal perceptions related to social functions and relationships. People’s inability to deal with societal stress factors leads to the development of maladaptive behaviors. The social causation theory proposes that people are prone to stress and maladaptive behaviors depending on the societal factors and prejudices existing in their societal constructions.

Suicide and the Moral Dilemma

The question surrounding the ethics of killing oneself has caused a moral quandary in the society. Most people who believe in the sacredness of life uphold that suicide is morally unacceptable, and a worthwhile life should not be shortened in any way. The desire to commit suicide questions the worthiness and the sanctity of life. Although not all people believe in the sanctity of life, it seems insightful that life is sacred. Moreover, as a rule, taking human life is completely wrong (Glover, 1977).

People who take their lives often see suicide as a solution, while observers view it as a problem. On the other hand, psychiatrists maintain that suicide is as a result of a disease. Even though suicide is not a crime, it is not legally acceptable in the society. The most troubling question that suicide poses to the society is whom the controller is, of when and how we die. This has evoked a lot of debates with participants using different references to support the ethics of suicide. Today, suicide has taken a new form, and it is no longer the concern of the church but the doctors and state.

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Characteristics of People who Commit Suicide

Even though suicidal behaviors are complex, people may display a variety of characteristic behaviors prior to a suicide attempt. Characteristic behaviors that may be displayed include, and not confined to:

  1. Trouble with thinking and concentration
  2. Giving out their important personal belongings
  3. Displaying sudden change in behaviors, especially coolness after nervousness
  4. Living in isolation
  5. Adopting self-destruction behaviors like alcoholism
  6. Engaging in self destruction talks of on death and hurting oneself
  7. Depression

Similarities between Suicide and Homicide

Most people argue that suicide and homicide are contrasting behaviors, though their relationships may be complicated. The two behaviors are similar because either case presents taking life. What differs is the focal point of the impulse, but the outcomes are similar. In addition, both homicide and suicide have unhappy responses. This implies that the two can have the same similarities in the brain with the possibility of an individual being homicidal and suicidal concurrently. Studies suggest that all features of human behaviors transmit their opposite; thus, the wish to kill a person, is as well the wish to kill oneself (Jackmanv 2003).

Addressing Lethality Using the Triangle Assessment Form

The triangle model works on the basis that suicide cannot occur if one feature reduces adequately. The model comprises of three suicidal characteristics, namely: a longing to die, a suicidal strategy, and satisfactory concern for relief. Jointly, the characteristics offer a setting for self harm. The reduction or removal of one or more characteristics from the setting prevents self harm (Lester, 1967). However, the regulation of the wish to die cannot be done directly. The regularization of any self behavior offers an opportunity for the desire to die to re-correct itself. Most studies indicate that the wish to die does not completely vanish, but may return. Consequently, health professionals are notified to keep an eye on all states even if stability persists.


American Association of Suicidology. (2005). Suicide in the U.S.A. based on current statistics. Web.

Glover, J. (1977). Causing death and saving lives. London, England: Penguin Publishers

Jackmanv, N. (2003). The Brains of violent males: The homicidal & suicidal brain. Web.

Joiner, T. (2005). Why people die by suicide. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press

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Lester, D. (1967). Suicide as an aggressive act. Journal of Psychology, 66:47-50.

Yousuf, S. (2011). Theories of suicide. Web.

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