Suicide to harass others: clues from mythology to understanding suicide bombing attacks

Crisis. 2006;27(1):22-30. doi: 10.1027/0227-5910.27.1.22.


Suicide by revenge, the Samsonic suicide, and the suicide by devotio, all described in classical mythology and also reported in the ethnographic literature, belong to the same class of suicidal behaviors as kamikaze suicide and the suicide bombing attack: suicide to harass and burden others or suicide with a hostile intent. The lack of a social dimension to share in a positive manner may lead an individual to integrate him/herself in another social structure, e.g., a military organization, which allows the individual to express his/her desires and personal identity only by destroying others and themselves. The dynamics of these forms of suicide are also likely to work in other displays of life-threatening behavior, such as family annihilation, mass murder, and spree killing. A more thorough investigation of the dynamics operating in suicide bombing attacks could, therefore, contribute to preventative strategies against violence at large.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude*
  • Cognition*
  • Explosions*
  • Hostility
  • Humans
  • Mythology*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Suicide / psychology*