Sociopaths and Suicide

Although some see sociopaths as too emotionally deficient to experience the despair necessary to suicide, I see suicide as offering a viable option for some sociopaths, and I’m going to explain why.

Let me start with a bit of crude, brutal logic: for many sociopaths, as we know, life is very much a game; hence, when game over, life over. No more game, what’s left? The answer may be, nothing.

And yet it may be less “despair” and “depression” with which the sociopath is left when his act has been shut-down than his preferring no longer to deal with an existence he  knows will cease supplying the gratifications to which he’s grown accustomed, perhaps addicted and certainly privileged.

In the face, then, of this massive problem, the sociopath, with his notorious penchant for escaping inconvenient situations, may consider “checking-out” out of life—suiciding—when it, too, becomes insolubly inconvenient.

Some sociopaths, recognizing that their run of exploitation has ended, may use suicide as a final act of rebellion and contempt, as if to express, “See! You may have apprehended me, but watch! I’ll kill myself, and so I’ll escape again! Nobody gets me. Nobody makes me account! I am accountable to myself only, and now I choose to disappear, permanently. Ha!

Of course, we’re all acquainted with the incarcerated sociopath who seeks his death, and may even generate publicity around his quest to be capitally executed. His is the case of the imprisoned sociopath asking the state, in effect, by proxy, to assist him in his suicide. What are we to make of this?

For some, the specter of the prisoner seeking execution arouses a certain sympathy; the prisoner may be seen as pursuing a form of ennobled self-justice, which may be interpreted (or rather, misinterpreted) as reflecting his belated humanity.

But what is the incarcerated, suicide-seeking sociopath really doing? Where is he really coming from? The answer is that he’s doing what he’s always done—exploiting for an edge, an advantage.

In such cases his spirited self-advocacy for death-by-state reflects some very basic sociopathic tendencies, among them his audacious grandiosity and arrogance. For even in his wretched, no-status state, here he is making noise and refusing to recognize limits—that is, he’s still attempting to exercise omnipotent control; he’s determined to determine even the way he dies!

But the incarcerated sociopath’s pursuit of assisted suicide-by-state is also, and probably principally, about his desire to escape a life intolerably devoid of gratifications.

Remember that, for many sociopaths, life without an ongoing infusion of gratification is like living in prison. For some of these sociopaths, this just is not a life worth living.

It is possible that despair, finally, is a driving factor when sociopaths attempt or commit suicide. However, it is the source of his despair that’s probably most noteworthy and  distinguishing: the sociopath often feels his despair as an existence intolerably devoid of sufficient gratifications, and the promise of future gratifications. And so his despair derives, ultimately, from the frustration of his greedy, insatiable demands.

Adding to his despair is the probable sense of his shattered omnipotence—that is, the sense that he can no longer exercise the kind of control over others, and control over (and satisfaction of) his gratification-habit to which he developed a deep, arrogant sense of entitlement.

The sociopath’s belief in his omnipotence, a belief deployed in the service of producing continual gratifications, gives him his superficial, if not only, purpose in life. Deprive him of it, and all bets are off.

(This article is copyrighted © 2010 by Steve Becker, LCSW. My use of male gender pronouns was for convenience’s sake and not to suggest that females aren’t capable of the attitudes and behaviors discussed.)

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Yeah, BBE, Skylar

My spath did the same thing. He lead me on, but didn’t pursue me, expected ME to pursue him. And that I did. Until I didn’t.


“I’m not willing to risk even the tiniest bit of progress that I make. No partners. No “I love you.” No THANK you!”

me too, Truthspeak! Now that I have some peace in my life, I refuse to risk it by being fooled/conned by an SP. SPs can fool even experts, so what chance do I have?


Actually, my s-path was more the pursuer. After the drama of my third date with him, I swore to myself I would not contact him again. Several days later, he contacted me. My mistake was getting involved.

A bit later, he provided more drama which: 1) had me thinking he was hiding something; 2) back away. Again, he upped the ante.

It real does seem like a game now.

I google anything about sociopathy or ASPD, and I get this site. This article, like many here is biased and hateful, and I do not understand how you can complain so much about a large group of people as being evil based on a few you have known.

“hence, when game over, life over. No more game, what’s left? The answer may be, nothing.”

This very closely reflects what the sociopath told me about belief in human existence. As an atheist, the sociopath had no belief in any sort of higher power or afterlife. Once you are dead and gone, who cares what everyone else thinks or does? You aren’t there to worry about it. I can easily see the sociopath committing suicide if all other options lead to no more fun and games.

It is not easy to read these hateful comments about spaths and suicide. One month ago, my spath husband shot himself in the head and died two days later. He was a horrible person who physically, emotionally, and sexually abused me. I finally cut him out of my life and one week later he was dead. I had to try and explain to our 5 year old why her daddy was gone. I’m sorry my husband had no impulse control and was miserable most of his life and sought to make others miserable too. But I, my daughter, and his family loved him and cared what happened. If we all focused on positive mental health care and knowledge instead of hate bashing, maybe no one will have to go through what I have or the bad experiences you have had again. Spath IS a mental health issue after all.

Inlovenlost – I am very sorry for your experience. However, I would be willing to bet that Steve Becker’s original article precisely described your husband’s motivation. I assure you, if he was a sociopath, he did not commit suicide out of depression or feeling overwhelmed. He no longer controlled you, so the decided to take himself out, hoping to make you feel guilty for the rest of your life.

Sociopathy is not a mental illness, it is a personality disorder. Sociopaths know exactly what they are doing. They know that their behavior hurts other people; they just don’t care. There is no positive mental health care for sociopaths once they are adults. Trying to find it just sets us up for more exploitation.

I’m so sorry you are having to go through these emotions. Mine shot himself in September as well. I feel like an absolute crazy person most of the time.

This may seem a bit of an unusual question, but how would one help prevent this suicide? My younger brother has always shown sociopathic tendencies and has recently become suicidal. I want to help him with both problems but obviously suicide must be solved first. How can I break through his apathy and save him?

tcouplan – the best thing you can do is suggest that he get professional help.

If he threatens to commit suicide, call 911. If he is serious, you need professionals to deal with it. If he is trying to manipulate you, calling 911 may put a stop to it.

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