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Why People Die by Suicide

Thomas Joiner, Ph.D.
Distinguished Research Professor & The Bright-Burton Professor of Psychology
Department of Psychology, Florida State University

What makes an individual most at risk for death by suicide? According to Dr. Thomas Joiner, there is an important distinction between desiring death by suicide and being capable of death by suicide. First, Dr. Joiner explains that the capability for self-injurious behaviors is learned. Second, he describes that the desire for death by suicide is two-fold: an individual must 1) perceive that he is a burden to friends and family and 2) feel that he or she is isolated and/or does not belong. Dr. Joiner concludes that the capacity and desire for death by suicide are the proximal factors that contribute to successful suicide. He also resolves that these factors must be developed and that few individuals have both capacity and desire for death by suicide.