Forced suicide is where a person is persuaded or pressured into killing themselves. The person is either brainwashed into committing the act or they are provided with circumstances that leave them with little option but to commit suicide such as the threat of or act of torture, imprisonment or death to themselves, family members or other loved ones.
This practice has it’s earliest roots in Greece and Rome where it was considered to be an honor killing, especially in cases where noblemen or women were given the option when being faced with a death sentence. A death sentence was often accompanied by the seizure of assets and property by the government. By opting to commit suicide, a person could pass ownership to their family.
China and other Asian countries have also practiced forced suicide as form of honor killing for centuries. Sati is one of the most common means where women will throw themselves on their husband’s funeral pyre after his death. However, it is uncertain whether this can be classified as forced suicide as coercion is not always prominent.
Seppuku in Japanese culture allows for a samurai to commit suicide rather than face the dishonor or cause dishonor to his Daimyo (master) by being put to death. This practice has been extended to force soldiers into committing suicide on the battlefield in order to kill as many of their enemy in the process.
In modern times, forced suicide is mainly aimed at women in certain cultures, especially in some Middle Eastern countries, or with Middle Eastern immigrants where they are coerced into killing themselves. Normally a threat to friends or family is used as a means to force the woman into suicide rather than cause harm, imprisonment or even death to a loved one.
This can be considered to be a form of honor killing as the woman gains honor by saving her family. However, these cases are highly controversial and are currently under investigation by the U.N., especially in the Kurdish territory of Turkey.
While the Turkish Government is taking action to investigate and prevent these type of killings by promoting campaigns against violence and abuse of women, the acts are still quite common. There is a great push for every case of suicide to be investigated to ensure that it was not murder.
There are some cases where the forced suicide may also be suspicious meaning that a murder of a woman may be disguised as suicide. This happens mainly where coercion fails to force the woman to take their own lives. It is also controversial as to whether this type of suicide can be considered to be honorable.
In Western society where committing suicide is often viewed as a sign of weakness, honorable killings are still practiced although they are much more rare. In some situations, it may be considered to be more honorable to take one’s own life than continue to harm or live with the dishonor that a person has brought to their family.