It is generally believed that there are two kinds of suicide: the real suicide and its imitation, when a person pretends to kill him or herself to blackmail others. An intention to commit real suicide is usually based on highly serious reasons. A fake suicide may occur due to idleness or lack of attention. The first one is more typical of individuals of ripe age, whereas incidents of pretentious suicide are more common among teenagers.
It is worthy of note that every real suicide is a critical demonstration of personal despair, whereas every demonstrative suicide is a potentially real one. Juvenile suicide is a much more complex phenomenon than it seems to be at the first sight.
It is an open secret that the demonstrative suicidal conduct is typical teenagers, like other kinds of expressive behavior. In some subcultures, like Emo or Goth teenagers, for example, the marks of a failed suicide attempt (bruises or cuts) are viewed as high rank military insignia. Most often, a teenager tries to commit suicide not to simply impress his parents, but to overcome the fear of death.
Suicidal behavior among young people may also be of imitative character. Needless to say that the number of suicides among teenagers rises after the death of their music idols. It was proved with the death of Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain. The motive is easy to explain: youngsters want to be like their idols, they want to copy them in everything, including death.
Pseudo-suicidal behavior has become rather popular in modern-day society. The idea of suicide permeates through many pop and rock music videos and songs.
In countries where firearms are readily available, many suicides involve the use of firearms. Over 55% of suicides that occurred in the United States in 2001 were by firearm. Asphyxiation methods (including hanging) and toxification (poisoning and overdose) are fairly common as well. Each comprised about 20% of suicides in the US during the same time period. Other methods of suicide include blunt force trauma (jumping from a building or bridge, or stepping in front of a train, for example), exsanguination or bloodletting (slitting one's wrist or throat), intentional drowning, self-immolation, electrocution, car collision and intentional starvation. The documentary film The Bridge tells the story of 24 people who committed suicide and their families' responses. All the suicides took place at San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge.
Suicide poses a conundrum to sociobiologists: Why would one choose to eliminate oneself from the gene pool? Sociobiologists debate the ultimate adaptive advantage of suicidality, while at a proximate level of animal behaviour, no single factor has gained acceptance as a universal cause of suicide. Depression, however, is a common phenomenon amongst those who die by suicide.
According to official statistics, about a million people die by suicide annually, more than those murdered or killed in war. As of 2001 in the USA, suicides outnumber homicides by 3 to 2 and deaths from AIDS by 2 to 1.
In the Western world, males die much more often than females by suicide, while females attempt suicide more often; this has been true for at least a century. Some medical professionals believe this is due to the fact that males are more likely to end their life through violent means (guns, knives, hanging, etc.), while women primarily overdose on medications or use other methods which may be less likely to result in death; again, this has been the case for at least a century.
Others ascribe the difference to inherent differences in male/female psychology. Greater social stigma against male depression and a lack of social networks of support and help with depression is often identified as a key reason for men's disproportionately higher level of suicides, since suicide as a "cry for help" is not seen as an equally viable option by men. Typically males die from suicide 3 to 4 times as often as females, and not unusually 5 or more times as often.
People die by suicide more often during spring and summer. The idea that suicide is more common during the winter holidays (including Christmas in the northern hemisphere) is a common misconception. There is also potential risk of suicide in some people experiencing Seasonal affective disorder.
Some see suicide as a legitimate matter of personal choice and a human right (colloquially known as the right to die movement), and maintain that no one should be forced to suffer against their will, particularly from conditions such as incurable disease, mental illness, and old age that have no possibility of improvement. Proponents of this view reject the belief that suicide is always irrational, arguing instead that it can be a valid last resort for those enduring major pain or trauma. This perspective is most popular in continental Europe, where euthanasia and other such topics are commonly discussed in parliament, although it has a good deal of support in the United States as well.