A suicide pact is an agreed plan between two or more individuals to commit
suicide Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death Death is the permanent, irreversible cessation of all biological functions that sustain a living Living or The Living may refer to: Common meanings *Life, a condition t ...

. The plan may be to die together, or separately and closely timed.

General considerations

Suicide pacts are an important concept in the study of suicide, and have occurred throughout history, as well as in fiction. An example of this is the suicide pact between
Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria Archduke Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria (Rudolf Franz Karl Josef; 21 August 1858 – 30 January 1889), was the only son and third child of Franz Joseph I of Austria, Emperor Franz Joseph I and Elisabeth in Bavaria. He was heir apparent to the Impe ...

Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria
Baroness Mary Vetsera Marie Alexandrine ''Freiin (; male, abbreviated as ), (; his wife, abbreviated as , literally "free lord" or "free lady") and (, his unmarried daughters and maiden aunts) are designations used as titles of nobility in the German-speaking ...

Baroness Mary Vetsera
. Suicide pacts are sometimes contrasted with
mass suicide Mass suicide is a form of suicide Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death (1906) Death is the permanent, Irreversible process, irreversible cessation of all biological process, biological functions that sustain a ...
s, understood as incidents in which a larger number of people kill themselves together for the same ideological reason, often within a religious, political, military or paramilitary context. "Suicide pact" tends to connote small groups and non-ideological motivations, as do bonding as married or romantic partners, as family members or friends, or even as criminal partners.

Legal aspects

England and Wales England and Wales () is a legal jurisdiction covering England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom, parts of the United Kingdom. England and Wales forms the constitutional successor to the former Kingdom of England and follows ...

England and Wales
, suicide pact is a partial defense, under section 4 of the
Homicide Act 1957 The Homicide Act 1957 (5 & 6 Eliz.2 c.11) is an Act of Parliament, Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It was enacted as a partial reform of the common law offence of murder in English law by abolishing the doctrine of constructive mali ...
, which reduces
murder Murder is the unlawful killing of another human without justification (jurisprudence), justification or valid excuse (legal), excuse, especially the unlawful killing of another human with malice aforethought. ("The killing of another person w ...
manslaughter Manslaughter is a common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ''Black ...
. In
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label=Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster- ...

Northern Ireland
, this defense is created b
section 14
of the
Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 1966 The Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 1966 (c 20) (NI) is an Acts of Parliament in the United Kingdom, Act of the Parliament of Northern Ireland. It makes similar provision to the Homicide Act 1957 and the Suicide Act 1961 for Northern Irelan ...
(c. 20) (N.I.).

Regional considerations

One of the first Internet suicides in Israel occurred in 1997, when Eran Aderet, a 19-year-old soldier, died after expressing his desire to commit suicide online, and received detailed instructions on how to accomplish this with an M16 rifle in his possession. Following this case, in 1999, a new Israeli association, SAHAR, sought to suicide prevention, prevent suicide by providing supportive conversations and referrals to relevant resources. In 2005, following an increase in the number of Internet suicide cases, the police established a special unit which consists of six policemen and specializes in helping people who confess online to wanting to commit suicide. The unit keeps in contact with forum moderators, who are asked to look out for posts from suicidal users. About 200 cases are detected each year, preventing dozens of suicides. Following the success of the Israeli model, similar units have been founded in Sweden, Germany and France.


Although the majority of such Internet-related suicide pacts have occurred in Japan (where it takes the name of ''netto shinjū,'' ネット心中), similar incidents have also been reported from other countries including China, South Korea, Germany, Australia, Norway, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. The first known Internet-related suicide pact occurred in February 2000, when one Norwegian man and one Austrian woman plunged 300 metres down the famous cliff Preikestolen, in Rogaland county, Norway. Later, a Norwegian woman came forward stating that the Norwegian man had met her on an Internet forum, and planned to commit suicide with her too, but he had instead chosen to go with the Austrian woman. Both victims were in their 20's. Despite the alarmed response of the media, Internet-connected suicide pacts are still relatively rare. Even in Japan, where most of such pacts have occurred, they still represent only 2% of all group suicide-pacts, and less than 0.01% of all suicides combined. However, they have been increasing in the country: 34 deaths from such pacts occurred in 2003; at least 50 are estimated to have occurred in 2004; and 91 deaths occurred in 2005. One notable example would be Hiroshi Maeue, who on March 28, 2007, was Capital punishment, sentenced to death by hanging, alleged to have murdered three participants in a suicide pact. An article published in the ''British Medical Journal'' in December 2004, by Dr Sundararajan Rajagopal, Consultant Psychiatrist from St. Thomas' Hospital in London, highlighted the emergence of the relatively new phenomenon of cybersuicide pacts, addressing it from a psychiatric perspective. Dr Rajagopal commented "The recent suicide pacts in Japan might just be isolated events in a country that has even previously been shown to have the highest rate of suicide pacts. Alternatively, they might herald a new disturbing trend in suicide pacts, with more such incidents, involving strangers meeting over the Internet, becoming increasingly common. If the latter is the case then the epidemiology of suicide pacts is likely to change, with more young people living on their own, who may have committed suicide alone, joining with like-minded suicidal persons to die together".

Internet suicide pacts

An article published by the ''Canterbury Suicide Project'' makes some notable comparisons between the nature of "traditional" suicide pacts and more recent Internet-related suicide pacts (or, as described in the article, "cyber-based suicide pacts"). It points out that traditionally suicide pacts: * Have been extremely rare. * Involve older individuals (50–60 years old) and very few adolescent, adolescents. * Tend to be between individuals with family or marriage-type relationships and differing, but complementary, psychiatric pathologies. On the other hand, the growing number of Internet-related suicide pacts are almost the exact opposite: * They involve young people almost exclusively. * Tend to be between complete strangers or individuals with platonic friendship-type relationships. * The common characteristic among them would seem to be clinical depression. The article also points out that the trend of Internet-related suicide pacts is changing the way that Mental health, mental-health workers need to deal with depressed and/or suicidal young people, advising that it is "prudent for clinicians to ask routinely if young people have been accessing Internet sites, obtaining suicide information from such sites, and talking in suicide chat rooms". A person who enters into an Internet suicide pact can also be lying intentionally. William Francis Melchert-Dinkel is an example of a person who made multiple Internet suicide pacts, in which he falsely promised to hang himself after the other person died by suicide. Melchert-Dinkel was later convicted of criminally assisting or attempting to assist in two suicides by providing detailed information about a suicide method.

See also

* Internet homicide * Kumatarō Kido and Yagorō Tani * Lover's Leap * Online predator * Shinjū * Social media and suicide * Suicide and the Internet * Suicide prevention contract, the opposite of a suicide pact. * "The Constitution is not a suicide pact," a recurring concept in American jurisprudence * The Love Suicides at Sonezaki (1978 film), ''The Love Suicides at Sonezaki'' (1978 film) * ''The Virgin Suicides'' * Yanaka Five-Storied Pagoda Double-Suicide Arson Case


Further reading


External links

"UK records first online suicide pact"
''The Age'', September 30, 2005 {{DEFAULTSORT:Suicide Pact Suicide types Suicide and the Internet Joint suicides,