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Happily Failed Suicide
A permanent solution to a temporary problem.
— Old proverb ascribed to suicide.

A character puts a gun to his head, and the gun fails to go off. The character's attempt at suicide has failed.

Afterward, he is very happy to be alive, glad that the suicide attempt failed. Maybe he's realized that he wants to live after all, or maybe he never truly wanted to die in the first place, or maybe he saw it as a sign that the Powers That Be didn't want him to die: The suicide attempt was not based on a genuine wish but rather in desperation Ā- at the moment, he just couldn't stand his life.

Compare Driven to Suicide, Bungled Suicide.

This may be Truth in Television, as a surprising proportion of people who survive suicide by jumping report having regretted the act before they landed.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga  

  • In a one-shot Girls Love manga Rooftop Miracle by Natsuneko, two girls try to commit suicide after having been cheated out of all their savings by a lesbian swindler. However, they pick exactly the same spot to do it and soon discover that they were ripped off by exactly the same girl in exactly the same manner. The more they talk, the more similarities with each other they discover, and you know where this is headed.
  • Welcome to the NHK!: In the end of the series, the perpetual loser Satou throws himself off a cliff in an honest-to-God suicide attempt, but discovers that a hidden metal net has been installed just below the cliff after the previous suicide on that spot. After that, he seems to become quite happy with his life again.
  • Robin in One Piece, twice.
    • After her hopes of finding the Rio Poneglyph were crushed in Alabasta, she decided to stay in the crumbling Royal tomb, when she could have escaped with her powers. An Unwanted Rescue occurs in the form of Luffy, which makes Robin want to keep on living after all, and she joins his crew.
    • Later, in the CP9 saga, her inner demons caught up with her, and she feared that her friends would eventually betray her and throw her away, as did everyone who took her in when she was a child. Preferring to die here and now rather than live a life she's going to lose someday, she decides to surrender to the World Government, on the condition that they leave the other Straw Hats alone. However, when the Straw Hats raid Enies Lobby to save her, and even burn down the World Government's flag, essentially declaring war on the entire world, Robin realizes that her friends will never betray her, and that she really wants to live, a fact that she screams from the bottom of her heart.
  • In Planetes, a couple with a young child in episode 5 were planning to commit suicide due to some extreme financial burdens. But then a thief aboard the spaceship steals the medicine, and later takes the young girl hostage. They try to dissuade the thief from killing her, and begin to realize that they themselves were about to decide her future in a bad way themselves. After the girl is saved, she tells her parents about her hopes and dreams of going into space and piloting a spaceship, and they seem to reconsider killing themselves, and instead promise the little girl that they'll work hard for her as well.
  • In Katekyo Hitman Reborn! in the early chapters of the manga Yamamoto almost commits suicide. This was due to some bad advice that he broke his arm over, and he thought that his career as a baseball player was over. So he moseyed on over to the edge of the school rooftop and prepared to jump, and he was dead serious about it. With an audience of students trying to cajole him out of it, the only voice he listened to was Tsuna's. He ended up falling due to bad construction of a gate but Tsuna saves him. After that, he and Tsuna become good friends and he joins Tsuna's mafia family.
  • In Wolf Guy - Wolfen Crest, Akiko Aoshika tries to jump off the hospital's terrace when she hears about Inugami being dead; she is stopped by a wolf who resembled Inugami, and she realizes that he could be alive somewhere and that she has to live in his place and honor. In truth the wolf was local Intrepid Reporter Jin, Aoshika discovers this by herself and talks to Jin in Alaska about it, thanks to this she now can recognize each wolf individually and finds a new respect for them, that's where she decides to live in Alaska, rebuilding herself from scratch... which considering what just happened to her, is a massive feat.

     Comic Books  

  • Arseface in Preacher tried to kill himself because he was sad and lonely, and his idol and his only friend had both just killed themselves and the friend had told him to do the same. After the failed suicide attempt, he does all he can to turn his life around, but can never get away from his face being horribly mutilated by the shotgun blast that so fortunately missed his brain.
  • The Mickey Mouse comic strip story "Mr. Slicker and the Egg Robbers" actually involved him trying to commit suicide in various ways, all of which failed. In one attempt, Mickey jumps off a bridge but lands on a boat. An angry sailor (who resembles Pete) yells that he throws stowaways overboard. Mickey starts pleading by saying he can't swim.
  • In Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, Johnny tries to kill himself with a gun-toting robot that will shoot him if he tries to turn it off or answers the phone. After an indignant conversation with some of the voices in his head, he changes his mind and decides he wants to live after all, switching the robot off. As it turns out, the robot doesn't work, and Johnny exclaims that he was extremely lucky. The moment after, the phone rings and Johnny, happy to be alive, turns to answer it. The robot then shoots him. He forgot to turn it on in the first place and only did so when he thought he was switching it off.
    • This was actually his third depicted suicide attempt (it's implied there were others), having first been distracted from killing himself by a funny commercial, and later having used the gun's only bullet on someone else, after which he immediately got distracted by soda and cheered up.
  • Crossing over with Real Life, the disillusioned Marjane in Persepolis deliberately overdoses on anti-depressants. The result is that she passes out for three days then has several hours of hallucinations. When she meets with her therapist, he's at a loss to how she survived, saying the amount she took should have been enough to kill an elephant.
  • Happens in The Walking Dead, seeing as it's a Cliffhanger to whom it happens and when and that he/she/it lives, so no other spoilers shall be needed.

    Film 

  • Heartwarmingly in the American short film Trevor. Thirteen-year-old Trevor attempts suicide due to the problems of being gay, but his aspirin overdose fails and, thanks to a kindly male nurse and tickets to a Diana Ross concert, he ends the film saying he's "definitely decided to live...till tomorrow", then dancing up the drive to his house.
  • In Hannah And Her Sisters, Woody Allen's character considers life to be meaningless and tries to shoot himself, failing at it. Roaming the streets, he goes to see a Marx Brothers movie, enjoys himself, and decides life is worth it for such things.
    • Also in Allen's A Midsummer's Night Sex Comedy with a gun.
  • A darker take on this comes in the Saw franchise, as this provided the final step that made John Kramer become the Jigsaw Killer.
    "The cancer isn't what started me in my work. It was the moment I decided to end my own life that started me on my work, and brought meaning to it. I had literally driven myself to suicide, and I had failed. My body had not been strong enough to repel cancer cells. Yet I had lived through a plunge off a cliff. But to my amazement, I was alive."
  • Tom Smykowsky from Office Space. After getting laid off, he attempts to kill himself by leaving his car running, in the closed garage. When his wife walks in, he decides he's got something to live for, backs out...and gets rammed by a drunk driver. The next time we see him, he's in a wheelchair, with about every conceivable bone broken, but is on top of the world, thanks to the fat settlement he got.
  • The Man in the Iron Mask has Porthos attempt to hang himself after he is...unable to perform. The beam he chooses, however, has been deliberately sawed through by Aramis (who suspected he was feeling suicidal) and he inadvertantly collapses the entire barn. This somehow reawakens not only his libido, but his warrior spirit as he conquers not only the woman he was suicidal over, but also joins the final battle.
  • In Titanic, after her suicide was stopped by Jack, Rose goes on to live a long and meaningful life.
  • The minor Rear Window character Miss Lonelyhearts constantly fails to find a good boyfriend. Eventually, she decides to overdose on sodium trieckonal capsules. Fortunately, right before she can swallow them, a band in another apartment entrances her with some beautiful music. The epilogue suggests that Miss Lonelyhearts will court the band's equally lonesome songwriter when she visits him and tells him that his music means a lot to her.

    Literature 

  • A number of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's literary peers were troubled by the ending to his 1787 novel, Die Leiden des Jungen Werther (The Sorrows of Young Werther) and the behavior that it was inspiring among many of its youthful fans. One of them, a man named Friedrich Nicolai, wrote a satirical alternate ending called Die Freuden des Jungen Werthers (The Joys of Young Werther), in which Werther's attempt to kill himself is foiled by the husband of the woman he loved, who withdraws out of friendship and allows Werther to pursue her; he eventually marries her, sheds all of the "storm and strife" of his youth, and becomes a respected gentleman in society. Goethe hated this treatment of his work and wrote a poem in which Nicolai desecrates Werther's grave, starting a literary war between them that lasted the rest of Goethe's Nicolai's life.
    • Nicolai, who died in 1811, was one of the leading German literary critics of the Enlightenment, and belonged to an older literary generation. He was rather sceptical of the new movements like Sturm und Drang and Romanticism. Die Freuden des Jungen Werthers is therefore correctly described as a parody, and it is worth noting that Goethe not only was angry at Nicolai specifically, but was violently opposed to parodies in general. Nicolai meanwhile not only parodied Goethe, but also the folk songs that were then being eagerly collected by the early Romantics.
  • The opening scene of the novel White Teeth is a complex example. Archie Jones is devastated after his Italian war-bride from the 1940s leaves him three decades later to go live with her family (in her defense, she's a paranoid schizophrenic by this point and needs her family's care), and contemplates suicide mostly because he doesn't know what else to do. He finally settles for flipping a coin (his stock method of making decisions) but then doesn't immediately kill himself when the coin tells him to do so. He finally works up the courage to die about a week later and tries to gas himself in his own car, but is rescued by a Pakistani butcher. Afterward, he is suddenly happy to be alive Ābut he doesn't truly acquire a new lease on life until he journeys to a hippie commune and becomes infatuated with a Jamaican girl half his age, whom he later marries. One of those rare cases of a lighthearted book that begins with a Despair Event Horizon.
  • MacWhirter in Agatha Christie's Towards Zero.
    • MacWhirter is somewhat of an ambigious case, because he explicitly asks himself at one point if he's glad he was saved and decides that, even though his life has turned around and he has no desire to try again, he's not. However, almost immediately after he thinks that, he stops someone else from killing herself, telling her it's always better to live. Ultimately it's hard to say if he was really unhappy about having been saved or it just being stubborn.
  • The Dover cliff scene in King Lear.
  • In G. K. Chesterton's Manalive!, a character named Innocent Smith employs this trope to his advantage. Nihilists and Nietzsche Wannabes who talk about the greatness of death and suicide have a habit of changing their minds when their lives are actually threatened, and holding them at gunpoint usually "cures" them and makes them love life again.
  • You can find plenty of these in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.
  • In Enchantress from the Stars, Elana , an agent from The Federation, is captured by The Empire. To avoid mindprobing, Elana runs towards the imperial rock-chewer, intent on being crushed by debris. However Georyn, one of the natives , whom she taught telekinesis, sees this and stops the whole load of debris in mid-air, saving her. This scares the Imperials so much that they leave the planet and liberate all prisoners, conveniently removing the reason for Elana to die.
  • Aravis in The Horse and His Boy

     Live Action TV  

  • Angel: Kate in the second-season episode "Reprise."
  • Jodie, from the 1970s sitcom/soap opera parody Soap, takes a bunch of pills, falls asleep and wakes up as the most emotionally healthy character in the series. Go figure.
  • Ex-Secret Service agent Paul Kellerman in Prison Break realizes that his life is meaningless and that the woman he has done so much for despises him. He puts on his parade uniform with all his awards and medals, properly cleans his service pistol, sits down on a chair, and prepares to pull the trigger. The scene cuts between this and his sister receiving a disturbing call and rushing to his place. She gets there and finds him slumped on the chair, the gun on the floor. He then stirs and looks at her, telling her in amazement that this is the first time in his entire career his gun has misfired. He then finds out that Sara Tancredi is on trial and, with renewed purpose, goes to testify, knowingly incriminating himself in the process. Later, his prison van is intercepted by masked people with guns. He faces them with dignity and prepares to die. He gets better.
  • In an episode of Boardwalk Empire, Richard Harrow sets out to the woods seemingly to go hunting, only to sit down, take his mask off, and put the rifle in his mouth. Suddenly, a dog shows up out of nowhere and steals his mask, causing him to run after it. He's eventually found by a couple of hunters who know the dog, and who give him his mask back and share their food with him. One of the hunters, showing a surprising amount of insight, gives him a short speech about the woods, telling him "These woods are for living, understand?" Richard then goes back to the city and talks with Jimmy, who reassures him of their friendship, helping him to change his mind about killing himself.
  • This happened to a friend of Taub in House, or possibly to Taub himself.
  • Invoked by Andrea in The Walking Dead. After being attacked by her zombified mother, Beth Greene starts to wonder if life is worth living in the post-apocalyptic world and is put on a suicide watch by the other characters. However, when it's Andrea's turn to keep an eye on her she merely locks the room and leaves, giving Beth a chance to try, reasoning that if she wouldn't be able to do it if she didn't truly want to die. She turns out to be right, but the other characters are still furious when they find out.
  • In the short-lived series FlashForward, the entire human race blacks out at the same time and sees a vision of the future. Bryce Varley is prevented from committed suicide due to being in the late stages of kidney cancer. He comes to with a new lease on life having seeing a vision of the love of his life, whom he hasn't met yet but will in the future.

     Music 
  • Art of Life by X Japan is about feeling suicidal yet overcoming those feelings and making one's desire to live stronger than one's desire to die. See the Real Life section below.
  • The video for Collective Soul's "The world I know" has the protagonist almost throw himself off a rooftop. Then a dove lands on his outstretched hand and he decides otherwise.
  • "Castles Made of Sand" by Jimi Hendrix:
    There was a young girl, who's heart was a frown
    Cause she was crippled for life,
    And she couldn't speak a sound
    And she wished and prayed she could stop living,
    So she decided to die
    She drew her wheelchair to the edge of the shore
    And to her legs she smiled you wont hurt me no more
    But then a sight she'd never seen made her jump and say
    Look a golden winged ship is passing my way

     Theatre  

  • In King Lear, Edgar sets up Gloucester to think he's had one of these in order to cheer him up, although his reaction is more of believing that fate ordained him to work towards some unfulfilled purpose.

     Video Games  

  • Final Fantasy VI: Depending on how things play out, Celes may attempt suicide, but fail... happily, because from where she lies, she sees evidence that one or more of the others may have survived, which gives her the will to live.
  • At one point in Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony, Tony attempts suicide by gunshot, but the gun's safety is on.
  • It was mentioned in Hakuōki that Harada attempted to commit Seppuku. He didn't die, but he shows his scar off when he's drunk.

    Webcomics 

  • In A Softer World:
    I took a bottle of pills when I found the photographs of them together / But instead of dying I pooped all over our bed / which is a funnier story, in the long run.
  • Fans! used this with Aly, who was surprised at her happiness.

     Western Animation  

  • In Felix Out of Luck (1921), a despondent Felix the Cat is trying to commit suicide with a pistolóbut misses.
  • In an episode of The Simpsons, a man jumps off the ledge of a building just as a massive ball of people comes rolling by. The tone of his voice implies that he is pleased with the result.
    Goodbye, Cruel World!! falls into the ball Hello ironic twist!
  • An Eastern European cartoon from the 70s has a despondent man repeatedly trying and failing suicide. Then a man with a gun holds him up and, terrified, he hands over his wallet, watch, clothes, everything... and ends up overjoyed that he's still alive.
  • In the 100th episode of Robot Chicken, the TV host commits suicide by hanging, only to be saved when Robot Chicken charges through during his Roaring Rampage of Rescue and cuts him down. For a brief moment he thinks that his life is worth living, before RC changes his mind and kills him.

     Real Life  

  • Vanilla Ice. After failing his suicide attempt, he turned his life around, gave up drugs, and went on to have a very productive music career.
  • Yoshiki Hayashi, though whether he actually attempted or not, he felt suicidal, which inspired his song Art of Life. The song is about exactly this and his own experience of it to the time of its writing - of realizing suicide wasn't the answer and he desired to live despite feeling like he wanted to die.
  • This is very much Truth in Television for many, and that's something to be taken into consideration if you're thinking of it.
  • This Cracked article lists many ways in which small, random objects (or a puppy in one case) stopped suicides.
    • Another article brings up this point as well, and also states that this is why guns are such a huge risk factor for suicide: it's pretty hard to fail at suicide with a gun.
  • One of the main advocates for installing a 'suicide fence' that would prevent suicides from leaping off San Francisco's Golden Gate bridge went through the same ordeal.
  • There's a number of survivors of suicide jumping that report they change their minds halfway through the leap.
    • One was quoted as saying, "On my way down, I realized that every problem in my life could be fixed, except for the fact that I had just jumped off a bridge."
  • Ludwig van Beethoven contemplated suicide after his loss of hearing, which usually would be a death sentence to a musician. Instead, he resolved to live his life as a composer. It's likely that this was a happily averted for Beethoven himself, and it's definitely so for us today. This is because Beethoven went on to create some awesome works, such as the ''Moonlight Sonata'' and his ''Eroica/Pastoral/Choral Symphonies'', leaving his mark in the history of classical music.
  • Hunter Doherty "Patch" Adams tried to commit suicide three times in one year while at school. He now is a prominent and brilliant health activist.
  • Tim Gunn recounts in his autobiography how after he attempted suicide by taking every pill he could find in his parents' house after getting sent to yet another boarding school and feeling conflicted over his (at the time undiscovered) homosexuality that he was glad to have failed at it once he'd spent several years in a psychiatric hospital with a doctor who helped him turn his life around.

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