It is an interesting relationship between these two psychological phenomena. In the previous post I presented a list of 6 possible decisions or motivations for suicide.
1. If things get too bad I will kill myself
2. I will kill myself by accident
3. I will kill myself and others by accident
4. I will get you to kill me (May include homicidal urges)
5. I will kill myself to hurt you
6. If you don’t change I will kill myself
Numbers 3 and 4 can include this dynamic of suicide and homicide. In #3 the most common example would be motor vehicle accidents. The person repeatedly drives in such a way, there is a significant increase in the likelihood there will be an accident that can kill the other and/or the self. Hence we have expression of both suicidal and homicidal urges at the one time.
The use of an accident for suicide is an interesting phenomena in itself. In my book – Working with suicidal individuals – I introduce the concept of suicidal ambivalence. All suicidal persons are ambivalent to some degree as shown in this diagram. One part of self wants to die and the other wants to live as we are all born with that strong life instinct.
An accident is a perfect expression of this ambivalence.
“I will put myself in circumstances where if I have bad luck I will die and if I have good luck I will live”.
Both ego states can gain expression at the one time. Both have a role in the decision making of the individual at the one time.
Number 4 (I will get you to kill me) as I mentioned can be expressed in a number of ways such as ‘death by cop’, some of those on death row, associating with very violent people such as in organised crime, non compliance to medical advice with life threatening conditions, voluntarily entering a war zone.
The ‘death by cop’ method can also involve the homicide decision. The person is both homicidal and suicidal at the same time. An example is the recent events with Charleston church shooting by Dylann Roof. It is reported that he attempted to kill self at the end of his shooting but had run out of ammunition. First it is not uncommon for people who do such public shooting to take their own lives at the end. Even if they do not one could define these episodes as having significant suicidal motivation involved. Anyone who goes into a public place and starts killing people knows that quickly there are going to be others (most often police) who will be shooting back in a potentially lethal manner. Hence we have the expression of the suicidal motivation with an aspect of ambivalence. “If they shoot me, it may kill me or it may not”.
Indeed in Australia we recently had such circumstances with a siege by Man Haron Monis in a cafe in the middle of a major city in full view of the public. As soon as he shot one hostage the police moved in. The subsequent government review of the event reported that Mr Monis was shot 13 times by the police. 11 times in the body and 2 times in the head. That I think can be safely seen as lethal force by the police. (I am not condemning the police at all, as they knew Mr Monis would readily shoot back at them with lethal intent.)
The point at hand is, if someone has homicidal urges and not suicidal urges they will kill people in a much more secretive manner. To put self out openly in public and start killing people then one must also have some suicidal urges because they know what the very imminent public reaction is going to be. No better example being the case of Mr Monis.
Whilst #4 does not have to involve a homicide decision it could be said that a clear way to get others to kill you is by killing others first.
In the search for a more robust definition or understanding of suicide it seems imperative to acknowledge the role that homicide can play in certain instances of suicide. As well as acknowledging the role accidents can play in the expression of suicidal ambivalence.