I have heard from many people who are suicidal and want to die by accident. I guess “wanting to die by accident” may sound weird to some people but I totally get it. I have been one of these people myself. I envisioned myself dying in service to another – doing something incredibly brave that would end my life so that another could live. At least then people would view my death in a positive light and didn’t other people deserve to live more than me anyway?

What it comes down to is that these suicidal people don’t want to take their own lives (for many reasons such as family and friends) but they do feel they want to die and they feel an accident is the way to do that.

Suicidal People Don’t Really Want to Die

As I’ve said before, people who are suicidal don’t want to die, but they do, desperately, want to end their suffering. This is completely understandable. For this topic, though, that’s irrelevant. In this case, let’s just assume the desire for death overrides their own understanding of their want to cease the pain. (Which happens when a person is acutely suicidal.)

Suicidal people sometimes want to die by accident but what does this mean? What do you do if someone behaves recklessly and want to die by accident?Why Would a Person Want to Die by Accident?

And there are many things that stand in the way of every person’s suicide. Perhaps the person has a life insurance policy that won’t pay out in the event of suicide. Perhaps the person can’t stand the idea of someone else being traumatized by finding his or her body. Perhaps the person simply doesn’t want to hurt his or her loved ones by leaving them with the burden of the individual’s suicide (which, undoubtedly, hurts those left behind).

But the desire to die is still very real for many people in spite of these roadblocks. So death by accident would seem to be the answer.

Reckless Behavior Causing Suicide by Accident

But, the trouble with that is that people can’t, by its very definition, cause an accident. What people can do, though, is act extremely recklessly and put their own lives in harm’s way due to lack of care. I have done this. It’s the same with self-harm. You don’t harm yourself as much as you don’t care if the world harms you. You basically walk into danger instead of walking away from it like other people would.

(Reckless and life-threatening behavior in bipolar disorder may not be as a result of suicidality, however, as it is also known to be a symptom of mania or hypomania when pleasure-seeking is involved.)

I think what’s important is to recognize that wanting to die by accident can be just as dangerous as a knife in your hand and it’s important that other people recognize it as such. A person can easily walk into traffic if they simply don’t bother to look both ways and that will land you just as dead as if you had committed suicide in any other way.

So if you see your loved one taking risks that don’t make sense and not taking care of his or her own safety in reasonable ways, it’s time to sit him or her down and have a serious conversation. It may be time to get that person to a hospital as well. Don’t just brush this behavior off as it could be an indicator of very serious things, indeed. After all, causing your own death in our society is easy, even when you are incredibly passive about it.

Header image by Matt Crampton.

Image provided by boeingboeing2.