1. Gothic_Gary
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    Gothic_Gary New Member

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    Are suicidal female characters believable?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Gothic_Gary, Jan 11, 2009.

    I realize that suicidal female characters are nothing new in fiction, from my googling it seems that they are somewhat more common than suicidal male characters. However when I changed my character's sex her suicide attempt seemed less convincing.

    Is the imagery of a woman aiming a gun to her head unnatural?#


    ~~~~~~~~
    I'm gonna repost this in character development where it should be ooops :)
     
  2. Arthur_Rimbaud
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    Arthur_Rimbaud Member

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    Perhaps the gun is what makes it seem unnatural. Though I think there is probably a way to pull it off.

    I think that a woman would not be very likely to use a gun. It seems more natural for them to use drugs, or razors, or other kinds of blades.

    Anybody have thoughts on this?
     
  3. Gothic_Gary
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    Gothic_Gary New Member

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    thanks that is an option I have considered, those methods are somewhat slower and give ample time for one to change one's mind. She's quite committed :)
     
  4. Arthur_Rimbaud
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    Arthur_Rimbaud Member

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    I see. I see. :p

    Hm... so I guess we're looking for something fast then, aren't we?
     
  5. Gothic_Gary
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    Gothic_Gary New Member

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    I'd imagine that hanging and jumping from a building are among the quickest
     
  6. Arthur_Rimbaud
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    Arthur_Rimbaud Member

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    Yeah. From what I understand hanging pretty much just snaps the hangees' neck right from the spinal column. Pretty fast, too.

    Let's see... what else...

    Drowning, electrocution, blunt trauma to head. Those might seem believable.

    The gun thing could probably work though.
     
  7. Gothic_Gary
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    Gothic_Gary New Member

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    I was mainly wondering if it was only me that form of suicide as unnatural for a woman.

    I think jumping and drowning are good alternatives :) thanks
     
  8. Ziku
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    Ziku Member

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    *Grimaces at this* My girlfriend writes all this stuff about times when she was suicidal.

    Yes, ohhhhhh yes. It's not that difficult to do if you know how.... You just need to know how to give them REAL problems and REAL reasons to want to kill themselves....
     
  9. Gothic_Gary
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    Gothic_Gary New Member

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    developing her motivation sounds like a great idea too
     
  10. Ziku
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    Ziku Member

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    Also, depression alone is not motivation and don't mistake it as such.

    Well, it is not that it isn't motivation, but it doesn't stand alone. Back on my lady for a moment, she suffers from depression at times. But depression does not just happen, at least it isn't as easy to believe when it does. If depression is your focus, it has to have not just apeared. Usually, hidding and masking inner pain is a good route, just so you know.

    Ah, excuse me, I seem to have thrown off the topic a bit.
     
  11. Gothic_Gary
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    Gothic_Gary New Member

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    what are outward signs of masking and suppression of inner pain?
     
  12. Ziku
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    Ziku Member

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    Inner pain is best shown by not showing it at all. These characters will generally keep their cool in intense situations, and will either be estatic or very quiet (yes, the two are opposites, inner pain works like that suprisingly).

    If the character doesn't have anyone they can go to, or is not willing to speak or go to. They think showing their emotions make them weak and makes them vulnerable. Some people literally need a shoulder to cry on, and if they don't have it, they just bottle up their sadness, until that turns to depression, and that has a possibility to turn to suicidal feelings.

    I am speaking both in character and based on my love's life right now, but my points hopefully remian valid.... I've never been suicidal or had depression, so I can't vouge for how it works in a mental state, but it's devistating in personal life.
     
  13. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can't remember where I read that women are more inclined to take overdoses, whereas men tend to use a weapon. IMO it would take a certain unusual type of woman, and one who had access to a weapon, to commit suicide in this fashion--but you are the one who knows your character.
     
  14. Daedalus
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    Daedalus Active Member

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    I know some women who are fanatical gun-lovers, but I would venture to guess that the majority of women don't like guns, and those that do would be less inclined to blow their brains out with them.

    To answer your question: Yes, it is entirely feasible and believable that a female character would commit suicide using a pistol.
     
  15. BitPoet
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    BitPoet Member

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    Two years ago, shortly after such a case had happened, some German newspapers featered statistics that nearly all gun-involving female suicides in Germany are commited by police offers. I don't know if that's true for other countries, as German weapon laws are quite rigid and only few females likely to be familiar with hand guns. But for a German reader there'll be some explanation needed why she has picked a gun, at least if she's not using it for work or has been introduced as a criminal.
     
  16. Brio
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    Brio New Member

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    While taking a sociology course in University (titled Deviance and Society) I learned that statistically females attempt suicide more than males, but males have a higher suicide rate overall. This is because females tend to use methods (sleeping pills, cutting wrists etc.) that are slower and the person has more time to change their mind/be found by a loved one and rushed to the hospital. Males more often use quick and lethal methods (firearms, hanging, jumping in front of trains etc.) resulting in the higher male suicide rate.
     
  17. lipton_lover
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    lipton_lover Contributing Member

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    Brio said exactly what I was thinking. That being said, your character may be different. But if it still doesn't feel right, either change the way the character commits suicide, or somehow somewhere show that the character is the type to use a gun instead of just overdosing herself.
     
  18. CommonGoods
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    CommonGoods Senior Member

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    It's really not about the statistics. Is about your writing. Tolkien made us believe in elves and dwarves, Dan Brown managed to make us believe Christ had a daughter.

    If you can make us believe it, we will believe it. Make sure to cover the basis though;
    - Where did she get the gun?
    - Why chose to shoot herself instead of hanging/ODing?

    Cover the basics, write it up.
     
  19. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Perhaps her father was in the military and she was raised around guns.
     
  20. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Of course it is. I mean, you can look at all the studies that you want to show the rates of who does what, but the bottom line is that we're all individuals. So what if women are less likely to choose that method. If you believe it, we will believe it.
     
  21. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Suicide in a car is also a possibility. Suicide by gun is more characteristically a male choice, and lately is most often seen in murder-suicide scenarios.

    It only takes a few seconds to floor the accelerator and turn the wheel to slam into a bridge support.

    But the reason so many suicides involve deliberate overdoses is avoidance of pain. A massive overdose in a secluded place is virtually painless, and the seclusion can virtually guarantee that no one will intervene in time. People survive gunshots and slit wrists, even falls from high places. Worse yetm they can survive as invalids, forced to face their failure with little opportunity to finish the job. That's also a reason that suicide by automobile is not very common.

    You should probably research suicide statistics to get a better idea of what is plausible and what is less so, and also the personal conditions that lead to suicide. Suicide is largely escape, but many suicides (more commonly among males) also contains a big "F*** you!" component, where the person wishes to do as much collateral damage as possible on the way out. Then there are the many suicide attempts that the person HOPES will fail - the desperate "Help me!" scenarios.

    If you can, speak to workers in the local hospitals' Mental Health units and organizations like the Samarians.

    (Moderator note: Next time, please ask a moderator to move the thread, rather than duplicating it)
     
  22. Brio
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    Brio New Member

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    I didn't mean to imply that the character in question couldn't or shouldn't use a firearm to commit suicide. The OP had mentioned that something didn't seem right with the image of a female raising a gun to their head. That it is less common may be the reason why it seems not quite right. As said previously as long as you make a plausible reason why she would use a firearm (e.g. hunter, military/police background, easy access to friends/family's firearms) then your story will be fine.

    I suffer from depression and at times have been suicidal. If anyone needs help developing characters with these attributes I'd be more than happy to answer any questions.
     
  23. Gothic_Gary
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    thanks I'll remember that in future :)

    Thanks for all the great replies :) you've certainly given me lots to think about

    Ok Brio would you prefer a PM to a thread message?
     
  24. othman
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    othman Member

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    Yeah but has she planned it? As depressed people who have a certain personality will plan it to an extent, like some light candles, do new wallpaper and then suicide, like to die in nice surroundings. Whilst other personality will just do it in the moment.
     
  25. jwilder
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    It's been said above, but females usually don't choose such violent ways of committing suicide. Overdoses, cutting, etc are their preferred methods. Chalk it up to whatever you want - unfamiliar with guns, innately less flashy than men, no collateral desire, etc etc. But, if your character is created in such a way that she has the desire and motivation to put a gun to her head, it's absolutely plausible. I had a friend in high school who killed herself with a gun, so it's not unheard of. Just be sure the motivation to die matches the choice of death, otherwise you'll find a very weird dissonance. I've dealt with that problem with several characters I've written. A sad, depressed, mildly OCD character blowing her head off isn't going to "feel" right to the reader, but OD'ing on pills or slashing her wrists would make more sense. A violently or manic depressed character in a prolonged intense, stressful situation could very well choose a gun. Know your character and her desires, and try writing the scene with different methods of suicide to see which fits best. Guns are flashy and do give that 'bang' factor (pun intended) to a scene, if that's what you're looking for.
     

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