I read so many stories including characters who got captured, sometimes they are trained soldiers etc., sometimes they are just an average person. And I always asked myself if a person would be able to kill itself when:

  1. beiing held in a room without anything in it, without even clothes
  2. beiing held in a room without anything in it, with clothes
  3. average cell with things like a bed, toilet, ... inside

A thing I thought of would be that the character could try and choke himself with the food he gets. Is that possible?

Thanks in advance!

  • Welcome to Writers. I'm afraid this question isn't a good fit for our site, whch is about the craft of writing and not the actual content itself. You're asking a question about what a character might be able to do, as opposed to a question about how to write (or research) it, so I'm going to put this on hold. Please check out our short tour. Thanks. Sep 10, 2017 at 20:04
  • Starvation? Water deprivation? Sep 11, 2017 at 15:31
  • @MonicaCellio I'm sorry, I thought this site also includes questions about scientific topics needed in story worlds. Please pardon the missunderstanding.
    – Lumix
    Sep 12, 2017 at 18:25
  • @Lumix I know it can be challenging to figure out the sometimes-fuzzy scope boundaries. I'm sorry for the inconvenience. If you earn 20 reputation you'll be able to use Writing Chat to brainstorm ideas with people; that might work better. Sep 12, 2017 at 18:32
  • @MonicaCellio No, sorry totally my fault. Just noticed I mixed up Writers- and Worldbuilding SE, makes sense now. Sorry again! Thanks
    – Lumix
    Sep 12, 2017 at 18:35

2 Answers 2


I think you have the wrong question. Yes, people can, if motivated, kill themselves with very little equipment e.g. bash your head on the floor enough times, or stand on a bed and dive head first into the concrete floor. I imagine, but haven't tried, that you could, given something to wedge yourself against, break your own neck by twisting it. In the end people can starve themselves to death or refuse drink so that they die of thirst (which is much quicker than starving).

However, there are two reasons why anything other than an easy death (say, by pistol) is not taken. Firstly, pain and other inconvenience. Personally, I am not a big one for pain and so avoiding it is one of my priorities. Therefore, some characters are going to want to avoid pain to end their own lives.

Secondly, and this is related to the first point, why do they want to die? Is it to avoid pain? Is a less painful method available? Do they have no hope? At least in stories, many main characters have hope. Related, is there no chance of escape?

  • I don't think it's possible to kill yourself bashing your head on the floor or jumping of the bed because I think you will pass out before dying. Yes, you are right, killing a character with hope to escape would be odd, I know that. But a character can get into situations (torture, revealing information which is secret,..) in which he or she knows its better to be dead. Thank you for your answer.
    – Lumix
    Sep 12, 2017 at 18:09
  • You can cause yourself irreprable brain damage, particularly jumping from height onto your head. You do pass out if you do something like hold your breath, but I am not sure you do if you bash your head. Sep 13, 2017 at 19:01

Seems to me that any kind of hanging will work - so so many examples in movies and TV - where the character gets creative (if the captors take away the obvious belt) - tearing up the sheets and creating a noose. (or their pants) - a woman wearing nylon stockings used them to hang/choke herself. - etc.

OK -if no clothes...well, if the character is violently suicidal, they can always try to bash their head into the wall, sink etc.

Or - the character incites the guards (or fellow prisoners) to the point where the character gets killed.

One TV show ("House MD") had an interesting scenario where a death row character got himself placed in a temporary "solitary" holding cell (which was an office storeroom- copy paper and supplies) - and he ended up drinking the liquid copy toner-fluid.

Sharpening the toothbrush edge (against the concrete wall) could sharpen it enough so the character can slice his wrists.

If the sink/toilet is made of porcelain, then the character can smash it so there are sharp pieces, and slit his wrists.

Generally however, the method needs to be a quiet one (otherwise the guards will find him and get medical attention).

But if you are writing ... then you have creative license to introduce some interesting scenarios: The character stealing an implement from a guard or lawyer. Character making a deal with another inmate beforehand.

Choking with food? very much a stretch. However, you could subtly introduce a backstory where, for instance, the inmate was very allergic to some common ingredient (like pepper, or milk) ... but instead of telling anyone, he requests a meal with the ingredients.

  • I like the allergic reaction idea. I'm not sure you could sharpen a toothbrush enough to slice your wrists fatally (something that takes skill and a great deal of time). Sep 10, 2017 at 18:44
  • If you were really determined, you wouldn't bother trying to slice your wrists with a sharpened tooth brush. It's already relatively pointy, just ram that straight into your brain.
    – user18397
    Sep 10, 2017 at 23:17
  • I thought about the hanging thing as well, but I don't know if it's that easy to create a noose of sheets or pants which work well enough to kill yourself. Using liquids is a good idea! The allergy thing as well. Thank you very much.
    – Lumix
    Sep 12, 2017 at 18:19

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