Leaving a narcissist is never easy – and it almost always comes with repercussions. There are a lot of typical behaviors demonstrated by a narcissist after you end a toxic relationship with them.
But many survivors don’t expect the narcissist to threaten suicide if they won’t come back or do what they want.
This is one of the most egregious ways a narcissist can emotionally blackmail you.
That could be why the biggest question I hear from survivors who have had a narcissist threaten suicide is, “would they really do it, or are they just manipulating me?”.
Do narcissists commit suicide?
The short answer is yes, but probably not. Let me explain.
There is a long-lasting debate on whether NPD is associated with suicide or not. It’s important to remember that narcissistic personality disorder is not a mental health issue but a personality disorder.
It is an enduring pattern of maladaptive behavior and traits that can coexist with other mental health issues such as depression, bipolar, or substance abuse.
Over the years, I’ve had a few clients dealing with confusing emotions about a narcissist who had taken their own lives. That said, it’s a relatively rare occurrence. For the most part, narcissists are afraid of death.
On some level, the more grandiose types seem to believe they are immortal, especially in their youth. Most cannot imagine the possibility of their own death.
In at least a couple of the cases with which I helped my clients, it seemed that the narcissist had committed suicide almost to spite or hurt their partners.
In contrast, the narcissist had done it in one case because he’d come to the end of the road with his lies and manipulation and would be held legally accountable otherwise. In all cases, it was clear that they never once considered how this would affect their partners long-term.
Are narcissists more likely than others to commit suicide?
Research tells us that people who suffer from narcissism are no more likely to commit suicide than anyone else. But unfortunately, while they’re less likely to have a failed attempt, they’re more likely to succeed if and when they try.
“While there was no bivariate relationship of NPD on suicide attempt, in the logistic regression patients with NPD were 2.4 times less likely to make a suicide attempt, compared with non-NPD patients and controlling for possible confounding variables,” study authors said, adding that, while the topic is understudied, “The modest body of existing research suggests that NPD is protective against non-fatal suicide attempts, but is associated with high lethality attempts.”
“Another study found that depressed older adults with narcissistic personalities were at increased suicide risk (Heisel et al., 2007). It has been observed that patients with NPD can be at elevated suicide risk not only during periods when they are depressed but also during periods when they are not suffering from depression (Ronningstam & Maltsberger 1998).”
Are some narcissists at a higher risk for suicide than others?
Among the narcissistic personality disorder-affected study subjects, the researchers noted that those who attempted or succeeded in suicide were “more likely to be male, to have a substance use disorder, and to have high aggression and hostility scores…The lower impulsivity of NPD patients and less severe personality pathology relative to other personality disorders may contribute to this effect.”
So, men with NPD and a drug or alcohol addiction who are aggressive and hostile toward the people in their lives are MORE likely to commit suicide than other narcissists.
What causes narcissists to commit suicide?
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder that causes people to have an inflated sense of their importance and a deep need for admiration and validation.
This means that narcissists can become highly vulnerable to painful feelings of shame, humiliation, and defeat when criticized or rejected.
This shame, along with the underdeveloped self-esteem that narcissists possess, can lead them to suicidal threats and even suicide attempts when they are let down or even when they are being humiliated in front of others.
However, other psychological factors are involved in this phenomenon, such as low self-esteem, history of suicide attempts, and family history of suicide.
What do you do if a narcissist threatens suicide?
Sometimes, narcissists make threats of suicide as a scare tactic. It’s a way for them to further manipulate the people around them. In this situation, it’s essential not to take the threats lightly, but it’s also crucial not to be intimidated by them.
For the sake of your well-being and safety, it is best to stay calm and disengaged when your narcissist threatens suicide. Either way, remember that even if they attempt to kill themselves, they are still actively trying to manipulate you.
Stay Calm and Assess the Situation
You have a few options when dealing with a narcissist’s suicide threat. First, if it’s clear that the person intends to take their own life and can follow through, consider contacting the police immediately.
First, take a deep breath and ask yourself how capable the narcissist is of killing themselves – do they have the means and ability to take such a significant action? Remember that narcissists are excellent at making threats but not at following through.
That said, remember that it’s entirely possible that the narcissist might actually attempt suicide and that if they succeed, you might end up (unfairly) blaming yourself.
Contact the Authorities
My suggestion is to go ahead and contact the police and let them know what the narcissist is saying. Then, they can go over and do a wellness check on the narcissist.
While this might feel extreme, it can not only prevent suicide but also remove any responsibility you may feel you have. You can also, if appropriate, tell the narcissist you’re sending the authorities – but please consider this carefully as it may cause them to expedite any efforts toward suicide.
Give the Narcissist Resources and Information
You can offer the narcissist the phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.*
Say something like, “I’m sorry you’re struggling, but I am not sure I’m qualified to help you. Please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately at 1-800-273-8255. They’re available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and their services are free. If your life is in imminent danger, call 911 or go directly to an emergency room.”
Bear in mind that narcissists are good at manipulating others, so there’s no guarantee that they’ll listen to reason from someone else either – but you should also remember that they are no longer your responsibility and that their behavior is NOT your fault – no matter how much they try to make you take responsibility for it.
Other options include encouraging them to seek psychiatric help or getting them to agree to stay with a family member or friend until they feel better. If you know them well, you could even contact the narcissist’s friend or family member and let them take it from there.
In any case, please do NOT risk your safety (mental or physical) by going back to the narcissist to prevent their suicide.
This can not only endanger you, but it might be nearly impossible to get away from them again – especially once they know that this kind of exploitative emotional blackmail has been an effective way to manipulate YOU.
Also, remember that if the narcissist is willing to threaten suicide, they may be at “rock bottom” and might not consider the consequences of seriously injuring you – or worse. They could feel like they’ve got “nothing to lose,” and you don’t want to make it easier for them to access you.
Narcissists and Suicide: Resources & Information
- *Note this recent announcement from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: The Lifeline and 988 – 988 has been designated as the new three-digit dialing code that will route callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. While some areas may be currently able to connect to the Lifeline by dialing 988, this dialing code will be available to everyone across the United States starting on July 16, 2022.
- Visit the QueenBeeing.com Suicide Prevention Center
Get Help With Your Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
- The QueenBeeing SPANily, Official – We consider this the best narcissistic abuse recovery support group on the web. It offers several subgroups and features a vigilant, compassionate admin team full of trained coaches and survivors, supporting more than 12k members. SPAN is an acronym created by Angie Atkinson that stands for Support for People Affected by Narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships.
- Other Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups – We also have separate groups for each stage in your narcissistic abuse recovery and some for those who have moved past recovery and are evolving into the next phase of their own life. Survivors have unique and individual needs, even when they’ve moved on – so we’re still here for you.
- One-on-One Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching – If you prefer to get more personalized support in your recovery, you might like to schedule a session with one of our coaches to plan and execute your narcissistic abuse recovery plan.
- Find a Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Therapist – If you’re looking for a therapist for narcissistic abuse recovery, either because you cannot afford coaching and want to use your health insurance or because you have additional issues you need to address that do not fall within the realm of coaching, you will want to find the right therapist for you – and as far as we’re concerned, that therapist must understand what you’ve been through. This page offers assistance to help you do exactly that.
- Where Are You in Recovery? You might not be sure exactly where you fit in and what level of recovery you’ve achieved. If that’s the case, you’ll want to check out this self-assessment to help you determine precisely where you fall in the stages of recovery from narcissistic abuse. Once you finish and submit the assessment, you will be given resources for your situation, along with recommendations of which groups to join.
- Which Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Program is Right for You? If you aren’t sure which program you want to utilize to facilitate your recovery from narcissistic abuse, this self-assessment will help you decide.