Failed suicide attempts comprise a large portion of suicide attempts. Some are regarded as not true attempts at all, but rather parasuicide. The usual attempt may be a wish to affect another person by the behaviour. Consequently, it occurs in a social context and may represent a request for help. The distress is misdirected: The behaviour is an act of desperation. Some suicide methods have higher rates of failure than others; e.g. wrist-slashing has a much higher failure rate than use of firearms, which has only a 10% failure rate. 75% of all suicide attempts are by the use of drugs, a method that is often thwarted by using nonlethal drugs or nonlethal dosages. These people are found alive 97% of the time. There is an often-told but probably-apocryphal story of a man who failed to kill himself by hanging, poisoning, drowning, self-immolation and gunshot wound simultaneously. About one-third of people who attempt suicide will repeat the attempt within 1 year, and about 10% of those who threaten or attempt suicide eventually do kill themselves.
Failed suicide attempts may lead to permanent injury and disfigurement, as when A.J. Reed attempted to kill himself with a shotgun and destroyed most of his face. 300,000 (or more) Americans a year survive a suicide attempt. A majority have injuries minor enough to need no more than emergency room treatment. However, about 116,000 are hospitalized, of whom 110,000 are eventually discharged alive. Their average hospital stay is 10 days; the average cost is $15,000. Seventeen percent, some 19,000, of these people are permanently disabled, restricted in their ability to work, each year, at a cost of $127,000 per person.
On the other hand, a study has found that after people attempt suicide and fail, their incomes increase by an average of 20.6 percent compared to peers who seriously contemplate suicide but never make an attempt. In fact, the more serious the attempt, the larger the boost—"hard-suicide" attempts, in which luck is the only reason the attempts fail, are associated with a 36.3 percent increase in income.
In popular culture
- The book and eponymous film titled Girl, Interrupted, relate the experiences of American author Susanna Kaysen as a young woman admitted to a psychiatric ward to be treated for borderline personality disorder, following an apparent suicide attempt.
- Multiple characters bungle suicide attempts on HBO's series, The Sopranos:
- Artie Bucco - perhaps Tony Soprano's best friend - attempts suicide by mixing pills and liquor (in "Everybody Hurts") but announces his intentions by phoning Tony, who saves his life by keeping Artie awake and phoning 911.
- A.J. Soprano - Tony Soprano's son - unsuccessfully attempts suicide by drowning (in "The Second Coming") but is discovered and saved by his father.
- The Sopranos episode, "Boca", reveals that Ally Vandermeed, a high school and grade school friend of Meadow Soprano, is having a sexual relationship with the girls' high school soccer coach, Don Hauser. The relationship causes Ally to become anti-social and withdrawn from schoolwork and Meadow. Ally practices cutting and, ultimately, tries to kill herself by slicing her wrists after the coach takes another job elsewhere, but her friends find her and she survives.
- Michael Crocetti; Michael A. Barone; Frank A. Oski (2004). Oski's essential pediatrics. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. pp. 206–. ISBN 9780781737708. http://books.google.com/books?id=I3Kh1cNJxyUC&pg=PA206. Retrieved 18 December 2010.
- Schwartz, Allan N. (Apr 12th 2007), Guns and Suicide, http://www.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_index.php?idx=119&d=1&w=5&e=28649
- You Can't Darwin Them All, Snopes, http://www.snopes.com/horrors/freakish/suicide.asp
- Suicide and Suicidal Behavior, New York Times, http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/suicide-and-suicidal-behavior/overview.html
- Single Shot, Second Chance, Discovery Channel, http://www.yourdiscovery.com/singleshot/
- Suicide is pointless, man testifies, The Augusta Chronicle, 2007, June 9, http://chronicle.augusta.com/stories/2007/06/09/rel_131547.shtml, retrieved 2010, November 8
- Stone, Geo (September 1, 2001). Suicide and Attempted Suicide. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0786709405.
- Duhigg, Charles (Oct. 29, 2003), The Economics of Suicide, Slate, http://www.slate.com/id/2090424