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Mistaken for Suicidal

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A character is standing on a ledge or behaving in a somber manner when someone else notices them. The person starts worrying that the other person is going to try and kill themself, but it turns out it's Not What It Looks Like. This trope is Played for Laughs just as often as it's Played for Drama. It may result in an Unwanted Rescue.

This occuring between two strangers often turns into a Meet Cute: One mistakes the other for trying to kill themselves, helps them, learns that the other was just fine, and they spark a bond.

Compare to Interrupted Suicide, which is when someone is actually stopped from committing suicide, and Make It Look Like an Accident, which can result in the murderer trying to make a murder seem like a suicide. This can occur if a character looks like they're having a Prelude To Suicide.

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Examples:

Anime & Manga

  • Played with in the manga of School-Live!. When Kurumi and Miki end up finding a gun in rubble, Kurumi decides that it would be a good way to fight zombies, however Miki discards it. She says that it's because they have no training and thus the gun would likely be more dangerous to them, though it's also implied she believes Kurumi would use it on herself someday. The ambiguous part is whether if it was this trope or if Kurumi would really use it to kill herself if she ever felt suicidal or if she began turning into a zombie again.
  • Invoked in Life. The Alpha Bitch Manami originally pretended to be Ayumi's friend. After her boyfriend left her, she became so distraught that she tried to jump in front of a train. Ayumi saved her from dying. It's later implied that Manami wasn't really suicidal and was just trying to play with Ayumi's head.
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  • Everyone in Angel Beats! is Dead All Along. After discussing her troubling and depressing background involving Survivor Guilt with the main character, Yuri insists that despite what it sounds like she didn't die due to suicide.
  • Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei: Inverted. Kafuka Fuura always misinterprets the eponymous character's suicide attempts as something more positive, such as his hanging himself as attempting to become taller.
  • Ranma ½: Akane is standing next to a pool thinking about how she can't swim. Suddenly principal Kuno appears shouting "Don't do it!", while knocking her into the pool. Then he cries that he was too late to save her while she's struggling in the water. She soon gets out using a life ring then angrily shouts that she wasn't trying to do anything.

Comic Books

  • In Superman: Secret Origin, Superman thought Jimmy Olsen was going to jump off a roof. In reality he was just saying goodbye to Metropolis before leaving it.
  • One Very Special Episode of Young Justice had the team investigating a hate crime involving Traya, the adopted daughter of Red Tornado. This leads them to seek out one of her classmates, a girl whose parents had recently been killed in a terrorist attack, and they find her on the edge of a bridge, and naturally assume that she's planning to jump. She tells them she just came out there to be alone.
  • The first issue of the post-52 iteration of Justice Society of America sees Power Girl and Mister Terrific going to recruit Maxine Hunkel, the granddaughter of the Golden Age Red Tornado, and they find her about to jump off the roof of her dorm. Since she has a history of depression, they are naturally concerned, but It turns out that she is just practicing her new wind-control abilities.
  • The Smurfs: One strip has a Smurf ask Smurfette out, and walk away looking dejected when she refuses. She later walks by and sees him casting a rope over a tree branch. Horrified at what she did, she runs towards him... and it turns out he was making a swing.

Fan Works

  • In Thieves Can Be Heroes!, Izuku pulls up a chair to see if a ceiling beam in his new room would be sturdy enough to use as a pullup bar. Sojiro then walks in to find Izuku suspended off the ground with a chair under his feet.
    Sojiro: Holy shit, kid... You're not trying to...

Film — Animated

  • In Aladdin, Jasmine suggests to "Prince Ali" that he should jump off a balcony. But when Aladdin actually makes motions to do so, she suddenly freaks out for a moment, before Aladdin reveals that he just jumped onto his magic carpet.

Film — Live Action

  • In Catwoman, the lead is mistaken for trying to jump out of her window when she really was trying to save a cat.
  • This is invoked by Andy in The Shawshank Redemption, where he talks about dying and requests for a good length of rope from Heywood, in order to mask his plan to escape from Shawshank.
  • In Crazy in Alabama, while on the Golden Gate Bridge, Lucille finally decides to move on from her abusive husband and get on with her life, only to be accosted by a police officer who mistakes her for a jumper. Given that she had killed said husband and is trying to dispose of his head at the time, this puts her in hot water.
  • In Kate & Leopold Stuart is standing on the edge of the still-under-construction Brooklyn Bridge when Leopoldo arrives. Leo thinks that Stuart is about to jump to his death, but it just happens that the time portal that Stuart needs to go through to get home requires such a jump. Leopold tries to wrestle Stuart back, but ends up falling into the portal with him.
  • In The Avengers (2012), after Selvig wakes up from Loki's brainwashing, Natasha finds him looking over the edge of Stark Tower's roof, like he's thinking about jumping. Natasha tries to talk him down, only for him to reveal that he's not looking at the ground; he's looking at Loki's scepter a few stories down, which is the key to closing the portal.
  • In Bye Bye Birdie, Rosie "saves" Albert from jumping out of a window. In reality he was just out there feeding his pet pigeon.
  • In Sherlock Holmes (2009), nearing the end Watson finds Holmes apparently having hung himself in his apartment. However Watson is confident that Holmes is too proud of himself to commit suicide. He then taps Holmes who sure enough is revealed to be just asleep. Holmes then explains he's trying to figure out how Blackwood was able to fake his own hanging.

Literature

  • In the Animorphs novel The Reaction, Rachel mentions in her narration that Chapman thinks that she's suicidal when he talks about some terrible events in her life (he thinks that her jumping into a crocodile pit to save a little boy and her inadvertently morphing to elephant and destroying her living room were suicide attempts).
  • Troy from Fat Kid Rules the World insists that Curt met him this way. Troy was waiting for a subway train when he started thinking what would happen if he jumped in front of it. Curt notices his look and ends up small talking with him. It's left vague on whether Troy was actually going to jump or was just pondering the concept.
  • In Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel, the Traveling Symphony mistakenly believes the missing clarinet is suicidal after finding a note in her bag reading, "Dear friends, I find myself immeasurably weary and I have gone to rest in the forest." Turns out she was just trying to write a manuscript and never got past the first sentence.
  • In Mr Monk Is A Mess, after a rough day full of instances of his world being shaken, Monk gulps down the remainder of a bottle of allergy pills in the victim's house. Lt. Devlin nearly tries to force him to vomit them back out, and Stottlemeyer tries to tell him that overdosing is not the answer to his problems. It turns out Monk swallowed them to prove his assertion that the victim's pharmacist killed him — he knew they were placebos

Live-Action TV

  • In Great News, Carol takes a wax figure of Chuck up to the roof of the station, where she has taken much of the stuff she has been hoarding. The others see the figure and think it's Chuck about to jump.
  • In Awkward., the main character Jenna Hamilton is mistaken for having attemped suicide after falling and breaking her arm while trying to get rid of a letter.
  • One episode of Reno 911! has Trudy Weigel placed on suicide watch after sitting in her car in her closed garage while the car was running (she was trying to teach herself French via a foreign language tape, but the only tape player she had was in her car.) After realizing that her fellow officers would go to great lengths to alleviate her supposed suicidal tendencies, she plays along.
  • Briefly occurs on Road Rules in season 3 (Europe). While the cast stays in a castle in France, Belou breaks up with her boyfriend. She's very emotionally distraught over the breakup and ends the conversation by going towards an open window. Patrice thinks she's about to jump and grabs her. She then explains she was just going to close the window.
  • Subverted in Betty en NY. The series starts with Betty on a boat to Manhattan. She stands at the front of the book to look at NYC, but is told to step away. Betty thinks that the man is concerned for her safety but he just wants her away from the front of the boat.

Music

  • Courtney Barnett's song "Elevator Operator", about a twenty-year-old office drone who has a conversation with a woman when they're both taking an elevator to the roof of a tall building:
    Don't jump little boy, don't jump off that roof
    You've got your whole life ahead of you, you're still in your youth
    I'd give anything to have skin like you
    He said "I think you're projecting the way that you're feeling
    I'm not suicidal, just idling insignificantly
    I come up here for perception and clarity
    I like to imagine I'm playing SimCity"
  • In the song "Spring" by Rammstein a man goes on a bridge to admire the view but a crowd forms believing he is trying to jump. The protagonist gets pushed off by an impatient bystander.
    • Though the man in the song was clearly not suicidal and thought that the people who formed the mob hated him, it is explained that the pusher was "redeeming him from his shame", so their mentality was probably not so much ill willed, as he most likely perceived it, but consider together suicide is a mental issue and from their perspective he was mental, though he was not, and wanted him no longer to live in this "shame", so consequently thinking that they were actually doing him a favor. I wonder what the reactions would have been though, if he told him that he was not trying to kill himself, but just wanted to embrace the view, sad but at the same time poignant.

Theatre

  • Implied in Ordinary Days: Deb seems to think that Warren is preparing to jump off the top of a building after he walks dangerously close to the edge while singing about how meaningless the flyers he's created are. He's actually just about to throw the flyers off the edge.

Video Games

Webcomics

  • Beloved: Wei Wei mistakes Ding Yi for suicidal when she stands on a railing.

Web Animation

  • In RWBY, there's a scene in the first season where Jaune thinks Pyrrha's mistaken him for suicidal: she brings him to the roof of the school, and he awkwardly says, "I know I'm going through a hard time right now, but I'm not that depressed..." After she realizes how he interpreted it, she quickly leads him away from the edge and explains that that's not what she meant; she'd intended it as a private place for them to train together.

Western Animation

  • DuckTales (1987), "Hero for Hire": Doofus notices a man standing on the edge of a building and assumes he's a jumper. Launchpad dashes to talk him out of it, only for the guy (a window washer) to tell him to get lost.
  • In Minx's A Day in the Limelight episode of Jem, she initially was suicidal. After being kicked out of her band and shoved off by Rio, she tried to jump off a building. Rio ends up saving her and she becomes indebted to him. After Rio and his friends get annoyed at her repeatedly, Minx gets fed up and goes to the roof again... Only to throw Rio's instrument off the building and go back to The Stingers.
  • Ginger from As Told by Ginger wrote a poem for school called "And Then She Was Gone" that is heavily implied to be about a girl who killed herself. After her teachers read it, they worry about her mental health and make her go to the school psychologist. Ginger insists that it's just a poem but all her friends think she's suicidal (though they don't use those words).
  • The Simpsons: Near the end of "Two Dozen and One Greyhounds", Marge enters the basement and sees Homer standing on a stool. It turns out he likes to paw at a lightbulb to make himself feel better.
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