This question is a bit more complicated than it night seem. Given the seriousness of the topic I’m going to break it down and address several aspects individually.
DISCLAIMER: I am not trained or qualified to advise anyone on this topic and I do not advocate suicide. The information in this answer is my own understanding based on my own research, thinking and planning and it is intended only as a resource to help others think about issues and consequences of their actions.
General comments about a few common methods
Note: my use of the pronouns “you”, “your”, etc., refer to a hypothetical person attempting suicide.
People’s bodies, and their reaction to drugs can vary significantly. Furthermore the interactions of various drugs can have significant effecs.
A drug or combination of drugs that is capable of killing you is also capable of causing permanent damage without actually causing death. Most people are not even remotely qualified to accurately assess these factors in a specific case.
Honestly, I personally would never consider using this method.
- Toxic Exposures
Fatal exposure to various gasses is a common method. It can be quite effective, but there are risks, not only for the you but for ANY OTHER PERSON who happens to have the bad luck of arriving on the scene and being inadvertently exposed to the gas.
For you, one risk is suffering permanent damage to your body—your brain especially—without dying. This has happened to thousands of people with appalling negative impacts on their lives.
Perhaps the most tragic scenario is when someone tries to rescue you before your death but after permanent brain damage has occurred, and they are killed or permanently impaired in the proccess. This has happened many times.
- Massive Impacts (solo)
This would be something like jumping off a bridge or building, driving your car into a large tree, concrete wall, etc.
This can be quite effective at killing you, or just maiming you, but is surprisingly unpredictable. If the bridge or building is high enough then the impact from the fall will almost certainly kill you, but there have been an astonishing number of cases where people have survived “unsurvivable” falls, though their injuries tend to be horrific. I believe that the most amazing case is that of a flight attendant who was in the tail section of a commercial airliner that exploded while at cruising altitude. The tail section, with her in it, fell for five or six miles before smashing into the ground. Rescuers disvovered her alive! But she was badly injured.
This method (jumping) would probably involve very little actual pain, but you would spend the last few seconds of your life in absolute terror.
If you planned to run your car into a massive object for the purposes of killing yourself, then I imagine that you want to leave your seatbelt unbuckled. The thing is, one of the things that your seatbelt does, is try really hard to keep you from being ejected from the vehicle, so if you don’t buckle it then you risk that, and now we’re back to “do you feel lucky?”
The seatbelt is also supposed to help keep you positioned properly so that the airbag(s) can protect you while not (too) seriously injuring you themselves. Without the seatbelt, well, who knows? Maye the airbag kills you, or maybe it breaks your kneck and you become a quadroplegic, or perhaps it detaches your retnas and you spend the rest of your life listening instead of seeing. If the universe happens to be in a particularly nasty mood then maybe you break your neck and lose your sight.
All of the things I’ve said about this are true, to the best of my knowledge, but there is another truth that, by itself, makes this method of suicide one that I would never, ever consider attempting.
There are likely to be witnesses, quite often young children get to see this happen, and more than once someone has had the incredible luck of becoming the landing pad for some thoughtless human missle, or perhaps some little girl will get to watch her mommy or daddy get destroyed in this manner.
Whoever might be reading this, please, don’t be that asshole. I care about you and your pain and am very sorry that you hurting so badly. I don’t judge people for ending their own suffering, but you know how horrible you feel, and it’s really important that you carefully consider and utterly refuse to take, or ruin someone else’s life. They feel pain too.
- Massive Impacts (coerced/exploited)
This is stuff like “suicide by cop”, jumping in front of a train or bus, etc. I don’t believe in hell, and if I did there is absolutely no one that I would wish consigned to it, but people who force other people to be their executioners would be near the top of my list of candidates if I did.
Jumping in front of a train will probably kill you, or might just take off a limb, or four, and once in awhile it cuts a person in half and leaves just enough of them intact to survive.
I’ll admit, the photo I saw was horrific, but the guy was smiling. I wasn’t smiling as I looked at it though; I was crying.
That’s a perfect image for us to consider before moving on to . . .
- Self Inflicted Injuries
This would be cutting your wrists, slashing your throat, opening a femoral artery, etc. It’s hard for me to be as objective about this as I can be for at least some of the other methods I’m discussing. Part of it is just that as a kid I loved microscopes, and the books I had would invariably have a section on looking at blood cells. I remember one of them where the chapter title was “We Stab Ourselves for the Love of Science.” By “stab” the author meant “prick the end of your finger with a sterilized needle.” I got as far as sterilizing the needle, then I was done.
However, there is another reason that I tend to avoid this subjcet, and taken with the one I just mentioned, this will be hard to believe, it’s really true though. Once, as a twenty-year-old young man, with no health insurance, I decided to stich up a gash in my own palm. for anesthesia I used ice cubes. I actually did manage to get five stiches in and it healed up pretty well. Later it occured to me that I had not thought to sterilize the thread—but I got away with it.
You may have realized that I got all chatty here because, as I said, I tend to avoid this subject, and it’s hard not to. But What I have to say is pretty short anyway.
If you understand human anatomy very well, and are quite knowledgable about the effects of blood loss, etc., then perhaps you could make a good job of it, but if you are actually that knowledgable then I should probably be reading your answer. I am sure that it could be very painfull, and that a botched job could have permanent consequences. I suspect that it could be done with very little pain and in such a way that it would be very likely to work.
What I will assert is simply that you really want to make sure you know what you’re doing, and how to do it properly, and you want to THINK VERY VERY HARD about making sure that the person that finds your body is an adult, and is one who can handle it emotionally. If it were me, I would probably arrange things in such a way that the person who found my body was a paramedic, or at least someone who had read a note that I wrote, suggesting that they call someone that is qualified and trained to handle that.
I’m going to address these two together because many people don’t seem to appreciate that they are actually—technically—completely different methods of making a person dead. That is very tragic because true hanging, done properly, results in a cleanly broken neck followed by a very quick death with little or no pain.
On the other hand, strangulation can talk as long as fifteen minutes and is extremely painful. As an added bonus, thanks the way the human mind is wired, you will spend most of that time desperately wishing to live. That wish is an ingrained, instinctual thing that you will feel, regardless of what you might think, when you consider your situation logically. Also, it is quite common for people to get themselves into this prediciment, but not quite far enough into it to actually die, or, someone finds them and “saves” them before they have managed to die, and brain damage is quite likely, along with various other types of injuries.
Nevertheless, people—many of them teenagers—often decide to “hang” themselves, and most of them who actually go though with it, are actually strangling themselves.
Hanging is used for executions in many places where executions are performed, and back when the US and the UK used to practice it, a big part of the point of it was to minimize suffering of the condemned. To that end they put quite a lot of effort into figuring out how to do it right. The three most vital elements are:
- Tying the knot (typically the “Hangman’s Noose”) correctly.
- Placing the loop, and most importantly, the knot, in exactly the right position.
- Calculating and arranging for the correct “drop” distance. There are formulas for calculating it but several different variations (long drop, short drop, etc.) The calculation is simple, but figuring out which calculation to make is more difficult. It’s easy enough to find all sort of information about this specific thing, but the down side is that there are a lot of differences of opinion on what’s best.
If you can get those three things right then, as I understand it, things should go pretty well in terms of quikness and minimal pain.
Personally, there is no way in hell that I would ever consider attempting this. The line between success and horrible failure is simply way, way too thin.
Keep in mind, different types of rope have different stretch characteristics, and the knot will function better when tied in some materials, and worse in others. Also, it’s one thing to know how far to drop, but arranging to do it is harder.
One last very important thing.
I hope that you, reading this right now, are not actually planning to end your life. The reason I hope that, is because I know what that feels like. Whether taking your own life or not is your best option is not my call to make, and I won’t presume to know that. But if you are seriously considering doing it, then I want you to know that I’m truly sorry that you are hurting so badly, and I hope hope that things get better for you, one way or another.
Twice in my life I have decided to end my life. I would have done it too, I didn’t change my mind out of fear, I changed it because, quite by accident, I had a realization; I figured out a cheat, and it has gotten me through another twenty-five years, and counting. It’s not God, or some book I read, or something someone told me over the telephone.
It helps me tremendously and after I wrote an answer that told the story, I heard from quite a few other people that it helped them as well.
In any case, I have really tried to do a good job of answering this question, and it has taken me a lot longer than it would take you to read that other answer; I would appreciate it if you would. Either way, I hope the universe will lighten up on you, at least a little bit.
John Hardegree’s answer to It’s not that I want to die, it’s that I am miserable and can’t stand living; what’s wrong with ending my own life, and why won’t anyone help me do it without screwing it up?