Inside the Mind of a Suicide Jumper

People who jump to their death may do it because it's convenient.

ByABC News
July 2, 2008, 1:31 PM

July 2, 2008 — -- Twenty-year-old European model Ruslana Korshunova and 44-year-old New York attending physician Douglas Meyer had little in common until the very moment they decided to take their own lives.

Both Korshunova and Meyer jumped out of Manhattan high-rises within days of each other earlier this week, the model plummeting from her ninth-floor apartment and the doctor from a window at the city hospital where he worked.

Their method of suicide is relatively unusual. The latest statistics recorded in 2005 show that firearms made up for 52.1 percent of all suicides, hanging for 22.2 percent and poison for 17.6 percent.

Jumping from tall buildings or high bridges seems to be reserved for those who are determined to die.

"People who think about committing suicide fear that they're going to hurt themselves but not kill themselves, and just make their situation worse," said Adam Kaplin, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical Institute, who estimates that only five to ten percent of all suicides are committed by jumping. "Jumping is sort of like using a gun – once you make that decision to [kill yourself], it's pretty much a done deal."

"When people don't have access to firearms and get it into their head that they don't think pills are going to work, they think there is something about the finality of [jumping] and think 'If I just do this it will be over,'" said Kaplin, who told that while men and women are equally likely to attempt suicide by jumping, women are less likely to die after the fall because of their lighter body weight.

How lethal the chosen method is, said Richard McKeon, a clinical psychologist at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is likely to reflect the person's degree of ambivalence about dying.

"Many people who die by suicide, as best we can determine, may have had some level of ambivalence right up until that final moment," said McKeon. "If you use a less lethal means like an overdose, there is still a possibility of taking it back [by calling for help]."