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Bungled Suicide
aka: Attempted Suicide

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"I'm so dumb I can't even kill myself."
Twisty the Clown, American Horror Story: Freak Show

A Bungled Suicide is when someone attempts to kill themselves, and fails. This may lead to them trying to kill themselves again, but it could also result in a realization that they didn't want to die after all. It's not Interrupted Suicide; they go through with it... they just don't die, for whatever reason.

It may be because they possess some kind of immortality, or perhaps they used a method that wasn't guaranteed to be deadly and got lucky.note  People who are for some reason physically unable to die usually cannot kill themselves no matter how hard they try. If done well, this trope can be either touching or tearjerking... and if done badly, it can just seem like the writers didn't have the guts to kill a character off. Occasionally it is used as a form of Suicide as Comedy, especially if the morbid humor revolves around the suicide attempt failing in a ludicrous way.

This is Truth in Television—in fact, the majority of suicide attempts don't result in death (though many of the survivors do end up with long-term injury). In Real Life, overdoses or cutting oneself are relatively survivable, due to the time they require (which often leads to the attempter being found before it's too late), because the attempter doesn't know that much about anatomy or pharmacology... or because some small part of the suicidal person is still fighting to live. People have survived long falls and hangings; even gunshot suicides aren't guaranteed to kill. The human body doesn't give up on life easily, much to the relief of many survivors.

Fake Assisted Suicide is one way of invoking this trope. Compare Interrupted Suicide and Mid-Suicide Regret. Contrast Accidental Suicide, which is an inversion: a character is not trying to kill themselves but they end up doing so by accident.

Please note: Failed suicide attempts are sometimes written off as "cry for help" or "wanting attention", but they're not. Any suicide attempt, no matter how ambivalent or survivable, should be treated as a genuine attempt to die and a sign that something has gone seriously wrong with that person's life or mental health, and demands intervention.

As this is a Death Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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  • This banned Bridgestone commercial.
  • This Hyundai ad depicting a man attempting to suffocate himself with car exhaust fumes. As it turns out, the car emits water vapors.

    Comic Books 
  • In Alpha Flight, Jerry Jaxon tried to hang himself. He survived but did enough damage to leave himself paralyzed.
  • During the 80s run of The Defenders, a depressed Gargoyle tried to hang himself. He failed, due to the fact that his body was too strong.
  • One special issue of Dylan Dog had a terminally ill man who, after selling his soul to Baba Yaga in exchange for revenge on the killers of his family, tried to kill himself multiple times to uphold his side of the deal, but the Devil continued to interfere in darkly funny ways because the man had sold his soul to him first (he sold it to Baba Yaga when the Devil announced he'd give him his revenge only when he would not be able to enjoy it).
  • In the backstory of God Loves, Man Kills, William Stryker attempted to blow himself up after killing his mutant son and wife, but wound up being blown clear.
  • Mr Immortal from the Great Lakes Avengers (or whatever they are now), after losing the love of his life (and then loses another). Given his name ...
  • Judge Dredd: At the start of the "Necropolis" arc, Chief Judge Silver tries to commit suicide with his Lawgiver pistol when he realizes that he's inadvertently handed over his city to the Dark Judges on a silver platter. He botches the attempt, consigning himself to a Fate Worse than Death instead.
  • Arseface from Preacher— he was trying to imitate the suicide of his hero Kurt Cobain, but failed in a particularly grotesque fashion (thus the name.)
  • Simon Dark: Simon's first "brother" is significantly more Blessed with Suck than he, as a homeless drug addict who wanted to die, and is now deformed, constantly in pain, nigh immortal, unable to kill himself and losing his mind. When he starts tearing people in half Simon eventually manages to kill him.
  • This pops up in Ultimate Fantastic Four as part of deconstructing the Thing's Blessed with Suck/Cursed with Awesome powers. He's a huge, freakish rock monster, stands out anywhere, has to be careful about crushing anything he touches, and has almost no sense of touch. In the 616 Marvel Universe, this is played for drama now and then but sometimes falls into Wangst territory. In the Ultimate Marvel universe, which is both Darker and Edgier and is earlier in the characters' timelines, he tried to kill himself several times but has not found anything that can break his skin.
    • In a similar vein, Sharon Ventura in the 616 Marvel-verse tried to kill herself after being mutated into She Thing. And failed for the exact same reason.

    Comic Strips 
  • Cracked's 6 Insane Disney Comics You Won't Believe Are Real shows some 1930 Mickey strips where breaking up with Minnie causes him to attempt suicide several ways but fail each time.
  • In one very early Garfield arc, Jon considers getting the tubby tabby in question declawed. Garfield decides to stick his head into the oven and end it all.
    "Stupid electric stove."
  • Gahan Wilson did a few strips on this theme; a typical example being a woman giving a sour look at a man who is hanging quite alive and tangled up in a makeshift noose from the room's old-fashioned light-fixture: "Can't you do anything right?"

    Fan Works 

  • A little guy is sitting at the bar just staring at his drink for half an hour when this big trouble-making biker steps next to him, grabs his drink and gulps it down in one swig. The poor little guy starts crying. "Come on man. I was just giving you a hard time," the biker says. "I didn't think you'd CRY. I can't stand to see a man crying." The little guy sniffs and says "Today is the worst day of my life, I can't do anything right. I overslept and was late to an important meeting, so my boss fired me. When I went to the parking lot, I found my car was stolen and I don't have any insurance. I left my wallet in the cab I took home. I found my wife in bed with the gardener and my dog bit me. So I came to this bar trying to work up the courage to put an end to my life, and then you show up and drink the damn poison."
  • A Dumb Blonde arrives at the hospital with a severed finger.
    Receptionist: How did that happen?
    Blonde: I tried to commit suicide!
    Receptionist: By cutting off your finger?
    Blonde: No, I bought a gun, and I pointed it at my chest, but then I remembered that I just recently got breast implants and they were very expensive, so I didn't want to ruin them. So then I put the gun in my mouth, but then I remembered all the expensive dental work I've had done over the years and I didn't want to ruin that either. So then I put the gun up to my ear, but then I realized that the gun was going to make a loud bang... so I put my finger in my other ear.
  • There's a joke, which may or may not have been originated by The Two Ronnies, in which the world's most unsuccessful soccer goalkeeper attempts to throw himself under a bus, and misses.
  • Then there's the one with the elderly lady who tried to shoot herself in the heart, which she'd been told was directly below the left breast. She's being treated for a gunshot to the kneecap.
  • Then there's the story of the man who tried to kill himself with an overdose of ten thousand aspirin. After he took the first two he felt better.
  • A man has had enough of everyone calling him stupid and decides to hang himself. His wife comes home to find him standing on a stool with a noose around his shoulders. When she asks him why, she explains, and when she points out it's supposed to go around his neck...
    I tried that, but then I couldn't breathe!

  • Mitch Benn's "I'm Still Here" is about a rock star who wants to go out in a big dramatic rock'n'roll style, but nothing he tries works. His attempts include drug overdose, heavy drinking, starving himself, blow-drying his hair in the bathtub, running naked down a railway line, swimming with sharks while bleeding, and playing Russian Roulette with bullets in all the chambers.
  • Depeche Mode's "Blasphemous Rumours":
    Girl of sixteen, whole life ahead of her
    Slashed her wrists, bored with life
    Didn't succeed, thank the Lord
    For small mercies
    • It became even Harsher in Hindsight when singer Dave Gahan attempted suicide the same way a few years later.
  • Dave Mustaine once introduced Megadeth's "Skin o' My Teeth" in concert with "This is a song about how many times I tried to kill myself and just couldn't get the fucking job done."
  • The Monkees did "Goin' Down" where Micky Dolenz sings of trying to drown himself in the river over a spurned love. When he gets over his anxiety he decides he's better off without her and takes the river out of town.
  • Neutral Milk Hotel's "Three Peaches", in a similar vein:
    You're in the bathroom carving holiday designs
    Into yourself, hoping no one will find
    You, but they found you, and they took you
    And you somehow survived
  • The music video for "Los Malaventurados No Lloran" by Mexican group Panda, switches between various scenes of people trying to kill themselves via various different methods, but each of them fail in one way or another (with the possible exception of the guy jumping through the window for a second time). The song is not about suicide, but it deals about someone mourning his lost love and one lyric does mention that "finding the way to go to the unknown and be at your side" would be impulsive.
  • Suicidal Tendencies' "Suicidal Failure" is sung from the perspective of a 19-year-old who has tried many different means of killing himself, but he just can't get it right.
  • In the video to Milaya by Filipp Kirkorov at 1:27 the cat takes poison, puts his neck in a noose and tries to shoot himself and pull the stool from under himself. And everything fails. The song doesn't mention suicide, though. Possibly inspired by an urban legend below.
  • Vocaloid: Nashimoto-P's "Suicide Song" sung by Hatsune Miku is a parody of this, if it doesn't outright avert it. The narrator first says she is going to hang herself, only to give up once she realizes that she doesn't have a rope. She then decides to commit briquette suicide, only to realize that her lighter is out of oil. Finally, she chooses to [chug a bottle of pills, but gives up on killing herself entirely once she realizes that she has no water to take the pills with because she forgot to pay her water bill. It is clear that she doesn't really want to kill herself because her excuses are rather flimsy; if she could go out and buy a bottle of pills, what's stopping her from buying a rope, or a new lighter, or a bottle of water?
  • Joe Iconis: "Try Again" from Album is about an artist going nowhere with their work, with the chorus imploring them, "if at first you don't succeed, try again." When all hope is lost, they jump out their apartment window, only to land on a fire escape they didn't know was there. The chorus then shifts to call it a sign, imploring the subject of the song to not try again for once.
  • "Fenibut" by neksusha* is about a young man who tries to overdose by downing two packs of the drug Phenibut and is thinking about how his mom will find him dead in the bathtub. When she does find him, it's revealed that he accidentally downed laxatives instead.
    • The original version of the song (then known by the working title "Suicidal") is even more overt with this.
    Мама бежит проверить квартиру *
    При этом кричит что воспитала дебила *
    "Проснись долбоеб" *
    "Ты съел две пачки Бисакодила" *

  • In one episode of The Men from the Ministry, after loosing 600 000 pound win on the football pools, Mr. Lamb repeatedly attempts to hang himself on his braces, naturally failing because they're too elastic.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Gamma World adventure GW6 Alpha Factor. The Rakees are flying squirrels with the mutation of being almost unkillable. Going crazy because they've lived so long, they constantly attack any creature they can in the hope that the opponent will put them out of their misery by killing them.

  • In the stage version of Amadeus Salieri attempted to commit suicide by slitting his throat, but survived.
  • Per The Zeroth Law of Trope Examples, Shakespeare did it with Antony in Antony and Cleopatra. He does die eventually, it just takes a lot longer than he thought it would. Allegedly Truth in Television.
  • We're told throughout Dear Evan Hansen that Evan broke his arm by falling out of a tree. In reality, he willingly jumped off.
  • In Wolfgang Borchert's play The Man Outside, a Shell-Shocked Veteran returns home to Germany after World War II only to find that everyone wants to pretend Those Wacky Nazis never happened and refuse to have anything to do with him. Eventually, he tries to jump in the river, but even the river won't take him.
  • Konstantin in The Seagull attempts to shoot himself in the head in Act Two and survives, then succeeds in Act Four.
  • The play Spared by Israel Horovitz is all about this trope. The protagonist has been trying to kill himself for years, but somehow he's been unlucky enough to live.
  • In Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Lucy's failed self-poisoning following her rape by Judge Turpin provides important plot, in the person of the Beggar Woman, who is Lucy after her failed suicide and imprisonment in Bedlam drives her insane. The character in question winds up dying at husband Sweeney/Benjamin's hands, and his realization afterward of who she is leads to his killing his partner in crime and allowing his own murder.

    Visual Novels 
  • In the backstory of Hakuouki, Harada Sanosuke (like his real-life counterpart) attempted to commit seppuku after being mocked by a retainer who accused him of being a peon who wouldn't know how to do it properly. He survived the experience, and occasionally shows off the scar at drinking parties.
  • Kanon: In Sayuri's backstory, she tried to commit suicide after the death of her little brother but didn't cut deeply enough. As she couldn't have been older than 12 at the time, this is probably understandable.
  • Yaginuma's sister in Kara no Shoujo attempted suicide and failed, but there was too long of a time without air getting to the brain and she was left brain damaged.
  • What happens to Aeka in Yume Miru Kusuri if you aren't on her path (or if you get her bad ending). She survives, and spends the rest of her life comatose in the hospital.

  • In Ape, Not Monkey the anti-vaccine pig attempted to commit suicide using homeopathic sleeping pills.
  • Because I'm Depressed: Diego's frequent attempts to end his life end either in complete failure or with him getting cold feet.
  • Get Schooled: Sang-wook attempts but fails a Bath Suicide after his bullies' suspension ends and they mock him for snitching on them. Warden Im takes up his case, setting the bullies straight and protecting Sang-wook from retaliation before the second disciplinary hearing.
  • In Jungle Juice, Suchan tries to commit suicide by throwing himself off building after he becomes a freakshow for having dragonfly wings, only for said wings to leave him hovering in mid-air instead.
  • In #Killstagram, Doyeon Kim and her family had a Suicide Pact by pills after her botched plastic surgery ruined their livelihoods. Doyeon was the only one who survived, so she transitioned to Doha to get revenge on Remi, whom she held responsible for the botched surgery.
  • Happens often in Mr Square, the main character once tried to hang himself but he was too top heavy.
  • Penny Arcade: In a Cardboard Tube Samurai storyline, a warrior named Tobun found himself possessed by a blade and forced to murder indiscriminately while unable to do anything about it. When the blade weakened its grasp on him for a moment, he tried to kill himself via dagger to the eye, but the blade kept him alive. When the Samurai finally faces down Tobun, his body was already decaying with the dagger still stuck in the eye.
  • Rosianna Rabbit had its first strip consist of a suicide joke where Rosianna tries to jump off a building to her death due to being unable to take the humiliation of people laughing at her after she tore her panties bending over to pick up some money she found. She instead is left hanging from a corner of the building by her panties, resulting in more people laughing at her exposed butt.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal has a comic with a guy trying to cut his wrist with a scalpel, which bent thanks to a "suicide vaccine."
  • Happens several times in the early strips of the "Suicide Girl" storyline of the extremely NSFW comic Sexy Losers, though she eventually does end up offing herself when she mistakes a handgun that she bought to protect herself from the lecherous Shiunji (who wants to have sex with her dead body) for a hairdryer. Things get worse from there.
  • In S.S.D.D. Julien, the squad's apparent Only Sane Man, turned out to have some telltale scars on his wrist. After his wife died he tried to join her, but fortunately no one had told him that it was "down the road, not across the street".
  • The whole premise behind Suicide Noun is that there is nothing Ethan can do that won't result in one of these. He is literally immortal, in the most painful Healing Factor induced way, and first learns this when he tries to kill himself by jumping off a bridge.
  • Unsounded: in Quigley's backstory, he managed to bungle a Suicide by Cop, with ugly results:
    He strapped his boy to his back and raided the municipal office on a suicide mission. Trouble was they survived it. No one else did.
  • Warbot from Warbot in Accounting throws itself from the roof of the office building it works at. As it's a decommissioned combat robot, it survives.
  • Whomp!: Ronnie tries to kill himself over Bakuman。 ending, but he just bounces off the pavement and back onto the roof.
  • Wonderlab: During Catt's backstory, they lose it after seeing the senior they looked up to beat an employee to death. Because of this, they try and eat the cake on top of the Abnormality "Bottle of Tears", which causes the room to flood. However, Catt didn't die because they were too physically and mentally strong to die, according to Word of God.
  • This causes the entire plot of YU+ME: dream . The protagonist found her mothers old suicide note, decided to "finish" what she started, and got into a car accident. She survived but was put into a coma which is where the series begins...

    Web Video 
  • During one of his Combine Harvester freakouts on Atop the Fourth Wall, Linkara attempts to kill himself with the Magic Gun... by using it to try and slash his wrists.
  • The Autobiography of Jane Eyre: Mr. Rochester's explanation of the nightmarish scream and mysterious accident number two from episode "Blood". Jane tries talking about it in episode "Mr. Mason". She thinks Mr. Mason tried to commit suicide and that Mr Rochester stopped him. Forgone Conclusion of the book however makes it clear that it did not in fact happen.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Attempted Suicide


"THAT SWORD COST $5,000!!"

Zoidberg sets Fry up as a scapegoat for breaking the Professor's model ship, and despite feeling guilty blames Fry again when he accidentally breaks the Chairman's very expensive sword. The latter case is played for laughs.

How well does it match the trope?

4.54 (24 votes)

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Main / Seppuku

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