Hidden suicide: what is it, characteristics and examples

Suicide is currently one of the main health challenges in the world, as it is a serious public health problem. And it is that, according to statistical studies of the World Health Organization (WHO), the annual number of suicides in the world is between 800,000 and 1,000,000 households; which is one case of suicide every 40 seconds.

When a secret suicide has occurred, it is difficult to detect whether a death was actually caused by an accident or whether it was suicide. In the case of a hidden suicide, the person has chosen a means to kill themselves in a way that makes them suspect that it was an accident.

In this article we will see what secret suicide is and some details on how it’s usually done.

    What is hidden suicide?

    Sigmund Freud once spoke of secret suicide, postulating that in addition to suicide that responds to an action that has been deliberate by the subject himself, there is also another type of suicide induced in order to meet ends at the subject’s unconscious level, and that is suicide hidden.

    We talk about a covered suicide like those cases where it is difficult to know if the person died in an accident or if it was a suicide. And the boundaries of a hidden suicide are very blurry, so in most of these cases it is very difficult to differentiate whether a death was caused by a hidden suicide or an accident.

    It is very important for professionals in the field do very rigorous tests in order to clarify the differences between a secret suicide case from those where the deceased was prone to exposure to high-risk situations, and it is common for those people, who like to engage in risky activities, there are some objectives of domination is a search for reaffirmation of oneself above the search for death, then in this second case we would speak of accident and not suicide.

    Cases in which people engage in very high-risk activities (for example, climbing skyscrapers, engaging in dangerous activities without adequate protection, or participating in illegal motorcycle or car racing without being a professional or do it in a circuit prepared for this purpose) have been nicknamed “suicide raids”. In these cases, if there was a death, it would be very difficult to tell whether it was an accident or a hidden suicide.

      Most Common Forms of Secret Suicide

      There are many ways in which a secret suicide may have been committed, but it is difficult to detect whether it was caused intentionally or if, on the contrary, it was an accident. We will explain below some of the most common ways to commit secret suicide.

      1. Unexplained traffic accidents

      There have been numerous cases in which a traffic accident has occurred and it is difficult to explain how it could have happened under these circumstances, prompting investigators to consider the hypothesis that it could be due to secret suicide. .

      Many cases have been found in investigations of suicides which have been caused by the victim’s intention to commit suicide, which is also the case. was described as autocidal.

      In case of suicide, it is officially reported that there has been a traffic accident in order to protect the family of the deceased from social stigma.

      Studies estimate that autocides or suicides account for more than 5% of deaths in road accidents, which could reach 15% in the United States.

        2. Overdose

        When an overdose death occurs, experts say it’s not easy if the person has accidentally exceeded the dose of the substance or if they have committed suicide with intent to kill themselves; as happened a few years ago in two well-known affairs such as actresses Marilyn Monroe and Romy Scheneider.

          3. Poisoning

          In the event of death from poisoning, something similar happens with an overdose. And it is in these cases too it is very complex to know if the death is the result of an accident or if it is a latent suicide.

          4. Domestic accidents

          There are cases of domestic deaths which have been caused by an accident at home which may raise suspicion that behind it could be the cause of secret suicide, being a very difficult hypothesis to prove.

          5. Drowning

          There are studies that have investigated multiple cases of drowning in several countries, concluding that behind many drownings could lie secret suicide, which offered a preliminary hypothesis for psychological autopsies on drowning suicide.

          He caught her attention high number of drownings suspected to be caused by secret suicide among older people in Japan, with an average rate of 13.5 cases per 100,000 women among older Japanese women, which is higher than other age groups. However, it was also found that the number of cases of concealed suicide by drowning was lower than that of drowning by accident.

          In all these cases, the experts who will carry out the autopsy and forensic examination, after having carried out the corresponding tests, will be responsible for clarifying the cause of death, and may consider the hypothesis that it is acts of latent suicide. .

          For all this, experts in the field claim that not all recorded suicides are really suicidal, but are the result of an accident. At the same time, it is not possible to prove all the deaths that have occurred as a result of suicide, as in the case of many secret suicides.


            In addition to hidden suicide, there are other forms of suicide in which it is very complex to know whether the cause was the result of suicide, as is the case with pseudo-suicides.

            There are a number of behaviors the end result of which is the death of the person performing those behaviors, but in these cases, the samples collected and the evidence point instead to the hypothesis that the person did not intend to commit suicide..

            Pseudo-suicides cover all situations in which the cognitive abilities as well as the volitional abilities of the deceased subject are seriously affected, such as in cases where the person has been diagnosed with schizophrenia or confessional, which rejects the hypothesis that this person may have committed suicide.

            However, part of the scientific community agrees that such cases could be suicides in these cases. Therefore, statistical diagnostic manuals of great importance in the field of mental health, such as the DSM-5, they propose “suicidal behavior disorder” as a diagnosis for future editions, although more studies are still needed on this subject.

            In suicidal behavior disorders, criteria D and E specify that the act which caused the death was not performed in a state of confusion or delirium, nor that it was not performed for a purpose. political or religious in nature, so these clarified serve to rule out medical causes and spiritual and social motivations, so in these cases we could be talking about another hidden suicide or a pseudo-suicide.

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