Understanding A Public Suicide Pact

Revised: May 21, 2014

By: Michael G. Conner, Psy.D, Clinical, Medical & Family Psychologist

There are three factors at work in a public suicide pact.

  • A public suicide act is intended to inflict harm and to punish others.
  • The suicidal act is way to end a painful emotional problem. Some people are in so much emotional pain that they become self destructive to change how they feel. 
  • Suicide is a choice during circumstances in which the people involved can see no alternative or important choices are being taken away.

Less common but related factors are:

  • The impulsive suicidal act is a means to avoid consequences for some recent behavior.
  • The suicidal act is the result of strange and bizarre beliefs that are caused by an untreated mental illness or a severe medical problem.  In this case one or more people in the pact have a mental illness or medical problem.

The following is the dynamic of a suicide pact:

  • These people are in the midst of severely painful emotional problems and turmoil.  There is a severe depression in addition to other psychological problems.
  • People like this find each other and try to support each other in living.  A person in misery can appreciate another person's misery.
  • They discuss their suicidal thoughts and feelings openly with each other.
  • Suicide becomes a little easier and less frightening.
  • Efforts to help each other fails and efforts to get help from others fall on deaf ears.
  • At one time these people encouraged each other to live.
  • Eventually they lose hope.
  • The essential dynamic of a suicide pact is that the pain and fear of living becomes worse than the fear of dying.
  • Suicide is not an easy decision.  Nobody wants to die alone.  
  • A suicide plan that involve a public display develops out of a motivation to give death a sense of purpose and meaning.
  • A public suicide like this is intended to send a message, inflict emotional harm and to punish others.
  • People who tried to support each other in life now support and encourage each other to support each other in suicide

Copyright 1999 - 2008, Michael G. Conner