Failed suicide attempt

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Not to be confused with suicide survivor.

A failed suicide attempt (Latin: tentamen suicidii), or nonfatal suicide attempt, is a suicide attempt from which the actor survived.


In the US, the NIMH reports there are 11 nonfatal suicide attempts for every suicide death.[1] The American Association of Suicidology reports higher numbers, stating that there are 25 suicide attempts for every suicide completion.[2] By these numbers, approximately 92-95% of suicide attempts end in survival.

In contrast to suicide mortality, rates of nonfatal self-injury are consistently higher among females.[3]

Parasuicide and self-injury[edit]

Main article: Suicide terminology

Without commonly agreed-upon operational definitions, some suicidology researchers regard many suicide attempts as parasuicide or self-injurious behavior, rather than "true" suicide attempts.


Some suicide methods have higher rates of lethality than others. The use of firearms results in death 90% of the time. Wrist-slashing has a much lower lethality rate, comparatively. 75% of all suicide attempts are by self-poisoning, a method that is often thwarted because the drug is nonlethal or is used at a nonlethal dosage. These people survive 97% of the time.[4]


A nonfatal suicide attempt is the strongest known clinical predictor of eventual suicide.[5] Suicide risk among self-harm patients is hundreds of times higher than in the general population.[6] It is often estimated that about 10-15% of attempters eventually die by suicide.[7] The mortality risk is highest during the first months and years after the attempt: almost 1% of individuals who attempt suicide die within one year.[8]


Nonfatal suicide attempts can result in serious injury. 300,000 (or more) Americans survive a suicide attempt each year. While a majority sustain injuries that allow them to be released following emergency room treatment, a significant minority—about 116,000—are hospitalized, of whom 110,000 are eventually discharged alive. Their average hospital stay is 10 days and the average cost is $15,000. Some 19,000, (17%) of these people are permanently disabled, restricted in their ability to work, each year, at a cost of $127,000 per person.[9]

Criminalization of attempted suicide[edit]

Main article: Suicide legislation

Historically in the Christian church, people who attempted suicide were excommunicated.[10] Suicide and attempted suicide, while previously criminally punishable, is no longer in most Western countries. It remains a criminal offense in most Islamic countries.[11] In the late 19th century in Great Britain, attempted suicide was deemed to be equivalent to attempted murder and could be punished by hanging.[10] In the United States, suicide is not illegal but may be associated with penalties for those who attempt it, such as being placed in a mental hospital.[10][not in citation given] No country in Europe currently considers attempted suicide to be a crime.[10]

In Singapore, a person who attempts to commit suicide can be imprisoned for up to one year.[12]

In India, attempted suicide is an offense punishable under Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code. Section 309 reads thus:

Attempt to commit suicide.—Whoever attempts to commit suicide and does any act towards the commission of such offence, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine, or with both.[13][dated info]

As of 2012, attempted suicide is a criminal offense in Uganda.[14]

As of 2013, attempted suicide is criminalized in Ghana.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS):
  2. ^ USA suicide 2006 Official final data: JL McIntosh for the American Association of Suicidology 2009. Many figures there taken from Reducing suicide: a national imperative, Goldsmith SK, Pellmar TC, Kleinman AM, Bunney WE, editors.
  3. ^ Nock et al. (2008). Suicide and suicide behavior. Epidemiologic Reviews, 30, 133-154. doi:10.1093/epirev/mxn002
  4. ^ Schwartz, Allan N. (Apr 12, 2007), Guns and Suicide 
  5. ^ Harris EC, Barraclough B: Suicide as an outcome for mental disorders: a meta-analysis. Br J Psychiatry 1997; 170:205–228
  6. ^ Owens D, Horrocks J, House A: Fatal and non-fatal repetition of self-harm: systematic review. Br J Psychiatry 2002; 181:193–199
  7. ^ Suominen et al. (2004). Completed Suicide After a Suicide Attempt: A 37-Year Follow-Up Study. Am J Psychiatry, 161, 563-564.
  8. ^ Hawton K, Catalan J. Attempted suicide: a practical guide to its nature and management, 2nd ed. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1987.
  9. ^ Stone, Geo (September 1, 2001). Suicide and Attempted Suicide. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-7867-0940-5. 
  10. ^ a b c d McLaughlin, Columba (2007). Suicide-related behaviour understanding, caring and therapeutic responses. Chichester, England: John Wiley & Sons. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-470-51241-8. 
  11. ^ Aggarwal, N (2009). "Rethinking suicide bombing.". Crisis 30 (2): 94–7. doi:10.1027/0227-5910.30.2.94. PMID 19525169. 
  12. ^ Singapore Penal Code(Cap 224, Rev Ed 2008), s 309
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