Usually, those left behind after a suicide are asking themselves why their loved one took his own life. Reasons for suicide are almost limitless and can be anything from a recent job loss to a political statement. The most common reasons for suicide include mental illness and substance abuse. Some people also commit suicide so they won't have to face serious punishment or disgrace, or for political, religious, or military reasons.
Not surprisingly, many experts agree that one of the most common reasons for suicide is some type of mental illness. Depression and schizophrenia are the two most common mental illnesses that are associated with suicide. Depression alone afflicts roughly one out of every six people in the United States, and almost half of all people who commit or attempt suicide have been diagnosed with some type of mental illness.
Individuals who abuse alcohol or other mind-altering substances are also considered to be more likely to commit suicide. Generally speaking, individuals under the influence are considered to be much more impulsive, since most substances impair a person's judgment. Many times, alcohol can act as a mood-enhancer, and combined with major depression, it can possibly push someone to do things that he normally wouldn't do, such as attempt suicide.
Sometimes, individuals try to commit suicide without actually meaning to or realizing that they could die. Many times, these people are attempting to cry out for help. Unfortunately, they make a mistake, and end up dying. Erotic asphyxiation and oxygen deprivation are sometimes thought to be reasons for suicide, but most of the time, these are accidental deaths.
Criminal acts and public disgrace are other reasons for suicide. Sometimes, when people commit a violent crime, such as murder, they commit suicide to avoid the consequences. They can either commit suicide directly after the crime, often known as murder-suicide, or wait until some time after the crime was committed.
One famous example of this involves the German Nazis after World War II. Many of these leaders committed suicide during the Nuremberg trials to avoid prosecution. A United States politician, R. Budd Dwyer also committed suicide to avoid prosecution and disgrace after he was convicted of taking bribes while in office. In 1987, during a live television broadcast, he gave a speech then promptly put a pistol in his mouth and pulled the trigger.
Politics, religion, and military tactics have also all been reasons for suicide. Individuals who commit suicide for these reasons typically believe that their deaths serve a great purpose. Examples of these types of suicides include suicide bombers and kamikaze pilots.