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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, Mistaken for Brooding, for when a character thinks someone is sad but not suicidal, 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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    Anime & Manga 
  • 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.
  • A Couple of Cuckoos: Nagi sees Erika standing on a bridge railing, screams at her not to jump, and pulls her away, accidentally grabbing her boobs. After punching him, she says she was not jumping, she was taking a picture and was getting a better angle.
  • In Hasoda's The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, the main character tries to jump out of her bedroom window but is stopped by her concerned little sister. The thing is, she wasn't trying to kill herself; she was trying to time-leap, and hadn't quite figured out how to do it properly.
  • Invoked in Life (2002). 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.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid Life has a scene where Nanoha comes home to find Rio hanging up a noose for a New Year's party (because she doesn't know what a wreath is). It's easily the darkest joke in the entire franchise.
  • In the Mega Man Star Force anime's third episode, Tom Dubius makes his way to a canyon edge alone, and Geo Stelar arrives just in time to see him jump off the cliff... only to activate his Wing Pack and take flight.
  • Invoked by Homura in Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion during her fight with Mami. Knowing that Mami has the upper hand and seeking to catch her off-guard, she puts a gun to her own head and fires. Homura knows that she will survive; Mami does not. Homura capitalizes on Mami's panicked concern to gain the upper hand.
  • Ranma : 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • At the start of Seagull Villa Days, Mayumi is standing on a bridge, gazing out at the sea when Rin walks up to her, assuming that Mayumi wants to jump. The two end up accidentally falling into the water after Rin grabs Mayumi's wrist, and while neither of the women are hurt, they end up soaking wet, and Rin still thinks Mayumi was trying to kill herself. As depressed as Mayumi was at the time due to her boyfriend breaking up with her after cheating on her with her best friend, she had no intention of killing herself.
  • In a flashback of Sekirei, Chiho went out the roof of her hospital to get some air, and saw Uzume sitting on the handrail's edge. She mistakenly assumes Uzume's about to jump (not that it would kill her, anyway), but turns out she was just chilling out.

    Comic Books 
  • 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.
  • In one Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen story, Superman, hearing that Jimmy got jilted in public, turns up to offer his condolences. He arrives to see Jimmy tying a rope to an anchor and saying that all his problems will be over soon, and jumps to the obvious conclusion. Jimmy actually rigged the anchor to get rid of a disguise he used.
  • 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.

    Fan Works 
  • In Into This Wild Abyss, Shen Qingqiu jumps into the Endless Abyss out of fear that his martial siblings would kill him for being half a demon, aware of a secret exit that will ultimately let him escape. For three years after that, the Cang Qiong Mountain Sect believes one of their most beloved cultivators was so ashamed of being outed as partially nonhuman that he killed himself, and they are obviously traumatized when they are reunited with the missing Shen Qingqiu.
  • 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 angrily tells "Prince Ali" to jump off a balcony when he tries to charm her in the standard princely way. But when Aladdin actually does so, she suddenly freaks out for a moment, before Aladdin reveals that he just jumped onto his magic carpet.

    Film Live-Action 
  • 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 Catwoman (2004), a police officer mistakes the lead for trying to jump out of her apartment window when she really was trying to save a cat.
  • 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 her husband and is trying to dispose of his head at the time, this puts her in hot water.
  • In Ferry Cross the Mersey, Gerry jams a coat under his bedroom door so the music from downstairs won't distract him. Aunt Lil knocks on the door and gets no response, then sees the coat under the door and assumes he jammed himself in to kill himself. Mr Lumsden rams the door open to find Gerry listening to the radio under the covers, which is why he didn't hear Aunt Lil knocking.
  • 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 Say It Isn't So, Gilly sees Jo standing on the edge of a building with a gun and thinks she's going to kill herself because she thinks he's dead, but it turns out she was just giving the one-gun salute to what she thought were Gilly's ashes.
  • 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 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.
  • Tucker & Dale vs. Evil: As the college kids start killing themselves on Tucker and Dale's property in various hilarious accidents because they are Too Dumb to Live, Tucker and Dale are obviously horrified and believe the kids are engaging in some sort of twisted Suicide Pact that they want to force Allison into as well.
    Tucker: Quick, we have to hide all the sharp objects!
  • The Woman in Red: Teddy is thought to be considering jumping off the ledge he's been forced onto as a place he can hide since Charlotte's husband came back early.

  • 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.
  • Her Crown of Fire: Rose's friends and family believe she is trying to harm herself, playing with fire so much that she burns her jacket and nearly burns down her house. She is also drawn towards a dangerous river, which Tyson mistakes for her trying to commit suicide. In truth, she was being magically compelled towards a portal to another world.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In the "Posada" episode of El Chavo del ocho, at one point La Chilindrina thinks Don Ramón is about to hang himself, she freaks out and promises she won't misbehave again. Don Ramón then clears up he was just testing the rope to make sure it could hold the piñata.
  • Frasier, being no stranger to the Mistaken for Index, has a few examples of fake-out suicides Played for Laughs.
    • In "Are You Being Served?," Niles is distraught at the breakdown of his marriage and locks himself in the bathroom. Frasier passionately speaks to Niles through the door, telling him that his life isn't over. He and the others are then shocked to hear a BANG from inside the bathroom. Frasier cautiously opens the door... and sees Niles covered head-to-toe in foam because Martin's automatic shaving cream dispenser exploded.
    • In "Frasier's Curse," Frasier suffers a string of bad luck and is despondent for some time. Niles enters the apartment to see Frasier sticking his head in the oven and rushes over, assuming the worst. It turns out that Frasier was just cleaning it — and it's an electric oven, not gas, so it wouldn't have killed him anyway.
      Frasier: If I wanted to end my life, I'd choose something faster than broiling.
  • 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.
  • The Odd Couple (1970): In "The Ides of April", Oscar wakes up to find Felix still in bed at the time he usually makes breakfast, an empty bottle of sleeping pills beside him. Thinking he overdosed due to stress, he calls Dr. Melnitz. Once Dr. Melnitz gets the still-sleepy Felix to explain, it turns out that the bottle only had one pill.
  • 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.
  • In the Season 5 finale of Schitt's Creek, Stevie goes missing the day she's supposed to star in a community theatre production. She'd been seen crying after learning her ex-boyfriend and best friend are engaged, and her friends fear the worst. Turns out, she was just going to pick up a custom ordered engagement gift and got caught in traffic.

  • 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 stands at the edge of 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 wasn't suicidal and thought that the people who formed the mob hated him, it is explained that the pusher thought that they were actually doing him a favor.

  • 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 
  • In the Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia Lost Chapter introducing Setzer, the Gambler has a moment of feeling blue over not being able to fly in an airship. When the rest of the heroes ask about him, Setzer tells the group that he's "just tired of treading this earth". Laguna panics and thinks Setzer means to jump off a cliff with Yang trying to offer to talk to him about anything.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, if Link tries to jump off a bridge while a certain NPC is nearby he will stop him. Link has a paraglider in this game, and the game features Soft Water, so he's not in any real danger. Nevertheless, there's a certain subtle Fridge Horror to this given the After the End setting. How many other people must that NPC have met on that bridge who really have been Driven to Suicide?
  • This is how Kiyomi met Haruka in Yakuza 6; Kiyomi saw Haruka near the docks looking despondent, and thinking she was a troubled teen about to throw herself into the harbor Kiyomi stepped in to talk her down. Fortunately Haruka wasn't suicidal, and her conversation led to Kiyomi employing Haruka at her bar for the next year or so before Haruka disappeared again.

    Visual Novels 
  • At the start of Kindred Spirits on the Roof, after Yuna, the protagonist, eats a strange-looking piece of candy, Sachi and Megumi, two ghosts, assume she's about to commit suicide. When Yuna turns around and points out it's candy, the two ghosts reveal that they were only kidding before they realize that Yuna can hear them, thereby kicking off the plot.

  • Beloved: Wei Wei mistakes Ding Yi for suicidal when she stands on a railing.
  • Let's Get Divorced!: Chapter 12 features a flashback to Baek-hui and Han-gyeol's school years. After his grandmother's death, Baek-hui found him leaning over a tall bridge. She instantly assumed he was going to kill himself and ran to pull him from the edge, only for him to tell her that he was only trying to retrieve a family photograph. This event prompts her to realize she has a crush on him.
  • A few years into Sluggy Freelance, Torg is forced into bankruptcy, which finishes off his freelance web design business for good. Riff rushes in on Torg standing on a stool, seemingly about to hang himself, and demands that Torg "put that noose down." It turns out that Torg is simply changing a lightbulb while wearing a shirt and tienote  and is preparing for a job interview, but Riff still thinks Torg seeking a full-time job is akin to suicide.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY has an in-universe subversion in the first season, when 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 
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • The Simpsons: Near the end of "Two Dozen and One Greyhounds", Marge enters the basement and sees Homer's shadow apparently hanging from the ceiling by a rope. It turns out that he was actually standing on a stool and pawing at a lightbulb to make himself feel better for selling race-winning hounds to Mr. Burns.
  • The Xavier: Renegade Angel episode "Xavier's Maneuver" begins with Xavier seeing a construction worker on a platform and assuming that he's planning to jump off. His attempts to convince him not to jump (despite the worker loudly telling him that he's just there to work) are so poorly-worded that the man winds up actually deciding to kill himself.


Video Example(s):


Farnsworth with a Memoray

In his shame over having caused the greenhouse effect, Professor Farnsworth points a ray gun at himself, which turns out to be a memory ray.

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Example of:

Main / MistakenForSuicidal

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