Suicide attempts have the same psychological menchanisms as other behaviours. They are pathways to fulfilling psychological needs.

As with all other behaviours, there is no one-to-one correlation between a suicide attempt and a specific psychological need. However, there are common patterns.

Suicide is related to poor problem solving skills (Linehan & Shearin, 1988), with problem-solving deficits predicting suicide attempts (Dieserud et al. 2003). Why? Because people who are poor at problem solving are more hopeless (less able to see a viable path to fulfil their psychological needs) (Brown et al. 2000)

Relatedness Psychological Needs

Suicide attempts focussed on fulfilling relatedness

Agentic Psychological Needs

People who attempt suicide while attempting to fulfil agentic psychological needs see suicide as a way to take control. They’re attempting to alleviate their emotional pain through action.

Validate this with stories from:


Brown, G. K., Beck, A. T., Steer, R. A., & Grisham, J. R. (2000). Risk factors for suicide in psychiatric outpatients: A 20-year prospective study. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 68(3), 371-377.

Dieserud, G., Røysamb, E., Braverman, M. T., Dalgard, O. S., & Ekeberg, Ø. (2003). Predicating repetition of suicide attempt: A prospective study of 50 suicide attempters. Archives of Suicide Research, 7(1), 1–15.

Linehan, M. & Shearin, E. (1988). Lethal stress: A social-behavioral model of suicidal behavior. Handbook of Life Stress, Cognition and Health. 265-285.