Prolonged suicide: what it is, how it happens and why it creates controversy

The concept of prolonged suicide, As a result of several unfortunate events in recent years, he became known. It is the act of first killing a loved one and then committing suicide.

Below we will define in more detail what this expression is, what diagnostic criteria experts use in the subject to delineate when dealing with a case of prolonged suicide, the risk factors and comment on why it is a controversial expression.

    What is prolonged suicide?

    Extended suicide is a tragic event in which the individual he first ends the life of a loved one, usually a son or daughter, and then commits suicide. The victim of the person who will eventually kill himself is usually someone he loves, and feels that, far from taking his future, she is saving him from an unfavorable future.

    In this type of homicide, it is not that the mother, or the father in any situation whatsoever, hates her children or other loved ones, or has been most often negligent towards them. We are not talking about a case in which the homicide-suicidal person has already been abused. Suicide is not an act of repentance for the murder of a loved one, But they coincide in time. First, she makes sure to kill herself and then pulls out.

    Usually the person who commits this act is deeply depressed, having a very pessimistic idea about the future of him and those close to him. Because of this pattern of thinking, and considering that there is no way out of the dead end he believes he is in, the mother or father decides, as an act he considers altruistic, to put end of her child’s life. clean.

    The way in which the life of the child or loved one ends is usually faster or slower and, in most cases, as painless as possible. The murderer tries to prevent his child from suffering, even if he does him the greatest harm of all evils: to murder him. Among these “soft” and less traumatic methods of murder, there is the use of psychotropic drugs, the release of gas, stabbing in strategic areas and rapid bleeding, throwing yourself from a great height …

    According to Save the Children, around 24% of child deaths recorded since 2012 have been murders committed by their mothers, 36% by their parents and 7% as a result of suicide by bullying. The remaining 33% of child deaths were due to reckless homicides or murders committed by people outside the family. About a third of mothers who subsequently kill their children attempt suicide, and 23% of them succeed.

    What signs indicate that you are facing this type of homicide?

    There are diagnostic criteria to determine if you are dealing with a case of prolonged suicideOr that the person is at risk of trying to take the life of a loved one and then trying to kill themselves. The most notable are the following:

    • Intention of the perpetrator to die.
    • Inclusion of a second person in the suicide act without their consent.
    • Suicide is not a consequence of homicide. They happen at the same time.
    • Altruistic or pseudo-altruistic motivation (eg, “Save suffering for my child”).
    • Spontaneous decision, without realizing the consequences of his act.

    Risk factors

    Different explanations have been given to understand why a person, in most cases women who commit homicide-suicide, commits prolonged suicide, although in most cases the explanation resorts to psychopathology, especially when in pain. of greater depression.

    In most cases, they are depressed womenEither because of mistreatment or other factors such as relationship break-ups and financial problems. They find themselves so desperate that they don’t believe there should be a better alternative than death. It is especially common when the person has psychotic or delusional symptoms, such as those that can be found in paranoid schizophrenia.

    Suicide history prior to making this prolonged suicide attempt, whether successful or not, has been shown to be a risk factor. Furthermore, have a serious personality disorderJust like the TLP, is something that can dramatically influence the accomplishment of this type of homicide-suicide. Substance use and intoxication can also contribute.

    For all that, we must not fall into the error of stigmatizing mothers those who have gone through or are going through a depressive episode, have been diagnosed with schizophrenia or, in the past, have attempted autolytic drugs. As we have seen, abuse and marital problems, as well as work and economic problems, can cause a person to feel so overwhelmed by events that they see no way to protect their children and decide everything. end both.

      A controversial concept

      Killing a child or other loved one, regardless of the motivation that drives them to commit this type of act, is something despicable and of course cannot be justified in any way, whether it is about a man or a woman.

      The concept of prolonged suicide has been criticizedBecause sometimes, and as some media reveal, rather than dealing with what it is, homicide followed by suicide is presented to the perpetrator very differently. According to the ideology of the medium, what a mother murders her child can be seen either as a heroic act against sexist society or quite simply the opposite, underscoring the lack of criticism of the behavior of those he has killed.

      It is important to note that there is little information on the number of cases in which, in effect, one would be faced with a prolonged suicide proper. In other words, the mother terminates the life of her offspring because she does not see a promising future.

      In these cases, we would be dealing with a person who suffers from a psychological problem, mainly of a depressive type combined with psychotic symptoms and delusions. This does not forgive the homicidal act, but allows us to understand that the one who did it does not do it out of revenge or out of hatred towards the husband or the victim, But he thinks he’s selfless.

      On the other hand, there would be the idea that indeed there are cases, although few in number, in which the mother would not have a mental disorder and the homicidal act would have been committed in a context domestic violence, in a situation that would have gotten out of hand.

      The recordings in which cases of prolonged suicide are considered are made a posteriori, that is to say after they have occurred and the suicidal person can no longer explain his reality because he is deceased.

      This means that the investigation, while effective in most cases, does not always know exactly what the motivation for the homicide-suicide was. If the person was depressed but did not see a professional, there will be no medical or psychiatric history. which helps contextualize the murder and, if it was her who committed the abuse but the husband did not report it, it becomes unclear whether the husband’s statements after the event are true or fabricated.

      final thought

      Faced with all this, a final reflection is required, and this is what mood disorders and domestic violence should not be underestimated, Regardless of the aggressor and the victim.

      Anyone can experience depression at some point in their life, which can be made worse depending on the individual’s personality characteristics and factors outside of them, such as the experience of abuse that hundreds of people experience. of women suffer every day and that concern most of the cases of prolonged suicide that are seen in the media. It has to do with the situation he had to live in and some factors that made him believe that the best thing he can do is end everything that way.

      Anyone can live in a situation which, far from seeking a realistic solution or to seek the support of relatives and authorities, believes that the best end is death. The victim should be helped as soon as possible, Respond to symptoms of extreme sadness that may indicate psychopathology, see if gradual isolation occurs, or if the person shows no signs of enjoying what he once enjoyed.

      It is for all this that it is essential to understand that specialized psychiatric units must be created and encouraged to see how the mother-child (or father-child as the case may be) bond is given to be observed. whether there is a risk of committing this type of homicide-suicide. In addition, interventions in the event of a suicide crisis should be refined and care should be taken to ensure that, in particular, the child or loved one involved in the suicide act is not harmed.

      The intervention must be multidisciplinary, In which psychiatrists, social workers, psychologists and physicians work collaboratively and in a coordinated manner to ensure the well-being of the mother / father and their children in the event of a mental disorder. Greater sensitivity is also needed from other professionals who do not work directly with psychiatric patients or cases of abuse, such as gynecologists, family physicians and pediatricians.

      Bibliographic reference:

      • Meszaros, K., Fischer-Danzinger, D. (2000). Extensive suicide attempt: psychopathology, personality and risk factors. psychopathology, 33 (1), 5-10. doi:

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