A groundbreaking study from the University of British Columbia becomes the first scientifically tested measure for understanding why people commit suicide, as “different motivations require different treatments and interventions”:
The study, based on 120 participants who recently attempted suicide, suggests many motivations believed to play important roles in suicide are relatively uncommon. For example, suicide attempts were rarely the result of impulsivity, a cry for help, or an effort to solve a financial or practical problem. Of all motivations for suicide, the two found to be universal in all participants were hopelessness and overwhelming emotional pain.
The study also finds that suicide attempts influenced by social factors — such as efforts to elicit help or influence others — generally exhibited a less pronounced intent to die, and were carried out with a greater chance of rescue. In contrast, suicide attempts motivated by internal factors — such as hopelessness and unbearable pain — were performed with the greatest desire to die.
“It may be surprising to some, but focusing on motivations is a new approach in the field of suicide research — and urgently needed,” says Klonsky. “Until now, the focus has been largely on the types of people attempting suicide — their demographics, their genetics — without actually exploring the motivations. Ours is the first work to do this in a comprehensive and systematic way.“
‘You may say, “How can anybody who’s got it all be so stupid as to want to end it all?” That’s the point, there is no “why?” That’s not the right question. There is no reason. If there was reason for it, you could reason someone out of it.’ (…) When I’m conscious, when I’m rational, I realise that being Stephen Fry is a very happy thing to be; people are extraordinarily nice to me. Mostly it’s great, but there are times when you’re on stage or when I’m doing QI and laughing [on the outside], but inside I’m going “I want to fucking die.”’