The song was written by Michael Hutchence and Andrew Farriss of the group INXS, after the band had gotten back together after a year-long sabbatical in 1989. The song was named after a woman who had bleached her own hair because she had "dyed" by her own hand and who was "love devastation". It is rumoured that Hutchence's then-girlfriend, Kylie Minogue, gave him the inspiration for the title while working on her 1989 film The Delinquents. Minogue was required to dye her hair platinum blonde for the role and was quoted by Hutchence in an interview in '89 as saying "I'm going suicide blonde today."
The recording of "Suicide Blonde" showed some new and older influences on INXS. Jon Farriss's drums show the influence of dance music especially the acid house sounds popular in the UK. Similarly, the blues harp intro on the track, performed by Charlie Musselwhite, was sampled rather than recorded live. The main riff in the song is a simple rework of the driving funk riff in the band's 1984 single "Original Sin," produced by Nile Rodgers - same key, same riff. This has come to be known as Rodgers' signature riff and can be heard from the 1970s heyday of Chic ("Soup for One") to the mid 1980s Duran Duran pop hit "Notorious," also produced by Rodgers.
The track became poignant after Hutchence committed suicide on 22 November 1997, and his lover Paula Yates died of an overdose on 17 September 2000, after attempting suicide in 1998. Kym Wilson (with her then boyfriend Andrew Reyment the last people to see Michael alive) also became known as the "Suicide Blonde" in the tabloids.
The track was released in September 1990 throughout the world. In the US, the track reached a peak of #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped both the modern rock and mainstream rock charts. A dance remix of the track received wide airplay on US top 40 stations, reaching the top 10 of the dance chart. In the UK, the track reached a peak of #11 while it reached #2 in their homeland of Australia1 and #1 in Canada.