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Driven to Suicide

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"Got bit,
Fever hit,
World's gone to shit,
Might as well quit"
— Message etched into a tree with a zombie hanging from it, The Walking Dead

Whatever the reason, (a guilty conscience, the world is simply too much to bear, self-hatred, whether reasonable or unreasonable, or simply having seen some really weird shit,) a character may be driven to commit suicide. This may be as little as pondering their existence or as much as holding a gun to one's head. Most times, the character will have second thoughts, or will be talked down by a friend, but in shows where Anyone Can Die, the character may go through with it. In any case, this is a powerful way to underscore the desperation of the character. In a backstory, being Driven To Suicide can illuminate the character's Dark and Troubled Past. On desperate occasions, this can be a happy ending, but only if a majority of the viewers agree, and this is very rare.

In some cases, the reason for suicide may not be depression, but honor, as with ritual suicide. This is obviously more common in Japanese works (as in Japanese culture, traditionally suicide can be done to cleanse one's honor) than in Western ones (as in most Christian sects, suicide traditionally is a shameful act — but classical settings allow it to be presented as honourable, e.g. in Shakespeare). It was also accepted by various ancient Greek philosophies, particularly that of the Stoics, as well as the ancient Romans and Egyptians, both of whom lauded it as a dignified and timely alternative to illness, dementia, or disgrace. Some Proud Warrior Races, such as the nomadic Scythians, preferred suicide as an alternative to dying in bed, thus making this trope Older Than Feudalism. By contrast, Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, et al.) abhor suicide, believing that only God is permitted to say when a life may be ended — however, there is considerable debate over issues like euthanasia, capital punishment, and killing in war.


Sometimes this is done to deliver An Aesop about teen suicide by having Long-Lost Uncle Aesop show up in a Very Special Episode.

At the other extreme, victims of The Corruption, Compelling Voice, or other forms of compulsion may resort to this to prevent the monster they are about to become from being unleashed on the world. This may allow Dying as Yourself.

This is regularly played for laughs, despite the risk of falling into "Dude, Not Funny!" territory. Also incidentally, deliberately pushing someone into suicide is treated the same as premeditated first-degree murder in many countries. Unfortunately, minors can be total monsters to each other, and grave bullying at school or elsewhere often can have very sad consequences (the bully more often than not also gets off with a simple slap on the wrist, too).


Subtrope of Murder by Suicide. Super-Trope of Leave Behind a Pistol. Sister Trope to Psychic-Assisted Suicide, Ordered to Die, Tricked to Death, and Suicidal Sadistic Choice.

See also: I Cannot Self-Terminate, Suicide by Cop, Suicide by Sea, Ate His Gun, Barefoot Suicide, Bath Suicide, Better to Die than Be Killed, Goodbye, Cruel World!, Gayngst-Induced Suicide, Suicide by Sunlight and Murder-Suicide.

Contrast Face Death with Dignity, where one chooses to face the music (and the bullets); Bungled Suicide and Interrupted Suicide, where the character's attempt fails or is stopped by somebody else; Happily Failed Suicide, where the character is grateful to be alive after all, Mistaken for Suicidal, where a character is mistakingly thought to be suicidal when they're not, and Suicide Is Painless, where the character has no reason to commit suicide, but does so anyway. Also contrast Seppuku, a form of suicide usually associated with Samurai, which is done to retain honor if all other choices mean violating it.

Tragically, this is an all too common occurrence in Real Life, but due to the extremely sensitive and personal nature of this trope, please do not add real life examples.

This is a Death Trope, so expect spoilers, marked and unmarked.


  • In the last painting of Marriage A-la-Mode, already ashamed of having brought about her husband's death in a duel, the Countess is broken completely by the news that Silvertongue has been hanged at Tyburn for the crime. She poisons herself with laudanum which she has bribed a dim-witted manservant (the man in the loose-fitting, incorrectly-buttoned coat) to buy for her. Since this makes what remains of the Earl's money forfeit to the state, the only money her father can get back from her dowry is from selling her wedding ring, which he is busy removing.

    Other Sites 
  • SCP Foundation:
    • SCP-405 ("Telepathy Virus"). SCP-405 is a contagious effect that causes the victim to gain the power of uncontrollable Telepathy. The constant mental "noise" and resulting sleep deprivation cause most victims to attempt suicide.
    • SCP-1230 ("A Hero is Born"). SCP-1230 is a book that produces full-immersion dream worlds where the reader is the main character. These dream worlds are primarily adventure settings which are tailored to the reader's tastes and expectations and years can pass inside them even though the reader usually sleeps no longer than normal. One researcher, an avid tabletop and video game player, used SCP-1230 and fell asleep in his office for fifteen hours (which prompted a security alert); he re-awoke under medical care, immediately excused himself into the bathroom and committed suicide. When another researcher went inside the book to ask what happened, the book's consciousness (taking the form of a benign old man) tearfully informed him that the guy got completely enamoured in his fantasy world and tried to pull an I Choose to Stay, and kept it going for two centuries before the book simply could not keep the dream going any longer.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Kung Fu Chicken Noodle, seen in Kaiju Big Battel, is the result of a suicide attempt gone wrong. He eventually became a hero though.
  • Samuel Shaw tried to commit suicide in TNA when he realized Christie Hemme, whom he had been stalking, did not share his affections. This eventually lead to him being put in a padded cell.


Video Example(s):


Leisure Suit Larry 1: In the Land of the Lounge Lizards

In the EGA version of the game, if the night ends and Larry is still a virgin, he commits suicide with a gun.

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