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Basic Information

Suicide is the act of voluntarily ending one's own life.

In most jurisdictions it's not seen as a crime, but as a tragedy. However, in England prior to 1870, some suicides were ruled felo-de-se, and punished quite nastily.

Euthanasia or Assisted Suicide remains criminal in many jurisdictions.

However, there have, historically, been a significant number of cultures where suicide has been far more acceptable - and even, on occasion, praiseworthy. Many Asian cultures regard (or have regarded) suicide as a legitimate form of protest in the face of a wide range of issues and many other cultures - including most of those in pre-Christian Europe - consider(ed) it a perfectly honourable alternative when faced with a series of options which were all bad (and/or dishonourable). Being publically acknowledged as having caused a suicide - especially that of an otherwise righteous person - might well be a significant source of disgrace and social stigma in its own right, even without any supernatural effects. When you factor in the possibility of powering a curse with your suicide, and/or your ghost haunting the person you hold responsible then it becomes even more so. Ironically, factors like this might well make a culture more insistent upon forbidding suicides.

A sub-trope is the "involuntarily assisted suicide", usually involving engaging in combat with an (apparently) unbeatable opponent - the modern version is suicide by cop, the old fashioned one the deathride. Suicide bombing is very much related to this. Where someone attempting this misjudges their opponent, they have a tendency to become the death seeker, especially if it keeps happening.

Noteworthy Suicides

See Also



Game and Story Use

  • Imagine a world where committing suicide resulted in becoming a ghost. This could be either a curse - especially if the ghost is tied to a specific location - or a quick way to become a powerful supernatural entity.
    • If an enemy was determined to kill you, you might commit suicide first, so you'd become a ghost and could haunt them for vengeance.
  • In some stories, users of magic commit suicide to empower a mighty spell or a magical artifact. What would a world look like where all magic items required the self-sacrifice of their creator?
  • Combining the two entries above, it might well be possible to enact an extremely powerful curse by fuelling it with your suicide.
    • This might produce a useful adventure hook - a given location is haunted by a particularly feral and vicious ghost. It turns out to be someone who gave their life for a death curse that turned out to be both unjustified in its targetting and brutally excessive in its scope. The ghost cannot be laid until the curse is lifted and until it has had some kind of opportunity to make amends for its crime … and possibly see whatever wrong caused it to take such drastic action in the first place addressed. Unfortunately, either death or the revelation of its crime has stripped the ghost of its memory (or just driven it mad) and it may react badly to attempts to help it. Step one, therefore, is figuring out what is causing this mess and the rest follows.
    • You could actually spin quite a long campaign out of this - as an idea, the BBEG is a lich. A long time ago, she managed to trick one rival into invoking a death curse on another … this curse has ruined (but not completely annihilated) the entire family of the target on the basis of the false assumption and is the reason that most of the playing area for the campaign is a (localised) crapsack world. The insane ghost of the curse creator guards its ancestral home (perhaps a dungeon) and, ironically, the lich's phylactery since a quirk of its undead state prevents it from taking any action against the person actually responsible. The PCs encounter the fringe of the ghost's domain early on in their careers (it's the local bad place and needs regular patroling to clean out the low level undead and other nasties) but can't penetrate deeper as it is too hazardous. Eventually the GM should arrange for one of the more alert PCs to get a clue and find out some background to the place - they then trace the case, investigate the cursed family and, once they are much higher level, follow the trail back to the lich. After a while, they are ready to tackle the ghost dungeon, junk the phylactery and move to the final, epic showdown with the BBEG.
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