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A suicide note is a message left by someone who later attempts or commits suicide. It is estimated that 12-20% of suicide victims leave a note. However, incidence rates may depend on race, method of suicide, and cultural differences and may reach rates as high as 50% in certain demographics.
According to Dr. Lenora Olson, the most common reasons that people contemplating suicide choose to write a suicide note include:
- To ease the pain of survivors by attempting to dissipate guilt
- To increase the pain of survivors by attempting to create guilt
- To set out the reason for suicide
- To gain sympathy or attention
- To give instructions as to disposition of remains
Rarely, those who have committed a crime or other offence will confess their acts in a note.
The most common reasons people contemplating suicide fail to write a note are:
- They are functionally or completely illiterate, or uncomfortable with written language.
- They have nothing to say or nobody to say it to - common with respect to the elderly or those without surviving loved ones.
- They feel they cannot express what they wish to say.
- Their choice to commit suicide was impulsive, or at least hasty enough that there was no time for a suicide note.
- They hope the suicide will be written off as an accident or homicide (common in those who wish to be buried in consecrated ground or who hope their families will be able to collect on insurance, for instance).
- They simply do not wish to write about their choice.
- Mark Etkind: ...Or Not to Be: A Collection of Suicide Notes, Riverhead Trade, ISBN 1-573225-80-0
- Lenora M. Olson, The use of suicide notes as an aid for understanding motive in completed suicides, Proquest/UMI, ISBN 0-542162-85-7
- Famous suicide notes - dying words of famous people
- Suicide note
- Sam Paul: Why I Committed Suicide, iUniverse, Inc., ISBN 0-595326-95-1
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