One of the examples in my English composition book (for learning to write my language's sentences in English) was "Why he committed suicide under such a good circumstance is an unsolved question.", but what I would have written would have been "Why he suicided...".

What's the difference between "commit suicide" and "suicide"? (I think I saw 'commit suicide' more than just 'suicide', and the spell checker of Google Chrome says that 'suicided' is not a word, even though I think it isn't wrong.)

  • 2
    Compare this with "committed murder" and "murdered". Again synonyms, and both of these usages are fairly common. Jun 26, 2011 at 14:38
  • 1
    Maybe because suicide require such a strong intention so we have to use commit ? Jun 26, 2011 at 14:54
  • 7
    @Peter: Far from common. 'Murder' has been a verb since time immemorial; suicide has never been used as a verb by any educated native speaker in my experience.
    – Noldorin
    Jun 27, 2011 at 21:13
  • 2
    As a native speaker, I've never heard suicide used as a verb. I looked it up just now and it seems it is, but I and most teachers I know would mark it wrong if it were used that way on a test! Suicide = noun, Commit suicide = verb, at least in common American English usage.
    – Fariha Naz
    Aug 9, 2016 at 7:02
  • 3
    Note that we also don't say "he regicided [the king]," "She matricided [her mother]," or "they genocided [the aboriginal population]." We have set of nouns here that are not generally treated as verbs, so any explanation for why suicide hasn't made the transition to verb use should be general enough to explain why other -cide nouns haven't made the transition either.
    – Sven Yargs
    Aug 9, 2016 at 7:20

9 Answers 9


There is no difference semantically. The only difference is that "suicide" as a verb is so rare I have never seen it before; whereas "commit suicide" is common. I would advise against unusual usages in general: You might confuse people, which is ill-advised, and in this case it is totally non-constructive to the language.

  • 5
    Agreed, I've never heard or read the verb form of suicide. Jun 26, 2011 at 15:40
  • 4
    "She suicided in a very ugly manner."
    – apaderno
    Jun 26, 2011 at 16:35
  • 3
    "Suicide" as a verb is not that uncommon.
    – MT_Head
    Jun 26, 2011 at 19:21
  • 3
    @MT_Head: That depends on what that means. I can understand the verb in context, obviously, but I've never heard it used to mean "to commit suicide". On the other hand, I have read another usage where it means to drive someone [else] to suicide... books.google.com/… Jun 27, 2011 at 2:46
  • 3
    @Chan-HoSuh, Whatever the dictionary says, I never heard suicide as a verb until I started volunteering on a telephone crisis line. Even there, it is used as a verb only in an informal context, either as shorthand, or just because it doesn't sound like normal educated speech and can create some gallows humor just by usage. Jan 19, 2013 at 18:41

Both the NOAD and the OED (the electronic version available on my Mac) reports that suicide is also a verb, and it means "intentionally kill oneself."
The example given by both the dictionaries is the following:

She suicided in a very ugly manner.

This meaning of suicide is not reported to be literary, archaic, or poetic.

The same dictionaries report that commit in commit suicide means "carry out or perpetrate (a mistake, crime, or immoral act)."

He committed an uncharacteristic error.

  • 1
    Suicide may be reported as a verb by the OED, but I've never heard nor read anyone say: "He suicided" or "He suicided himself", it's either: "He committed suicide" or "He killed himself". I'd be interested to hear the date of "She suicided in a very ugly manner", does OED say it is archaic/obsolete/rare/informal?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 24, 2015 at 19:11
  • The citation is from a Star Trek novel?!
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 24, 2015 at 19:18
  • They don't say anything, except "verb; intentionally kill oneself: she suicided in a very ugly manner."
    – apaderno
    Sep 24, 2015 at 20:25
  • I'd say that if anyone does use suicided it would be a restricted sort of jargon to save words - like using KIA in military casualty reports. It is absent from normal speech or writing.
    – Oldcat
    Sep 24, 2015 at 21:46

While there is no difference between "to commit suicide" and "to suicide" [1]. Note that "suicide" can also be used to refer to the subject of the suicide. So while you can say "He committed suicide" you could also say "He is a suicide".

([1] Although I would always use the first as it is, as has been said, far more common. )

As to why it is "committed" and not something else, I suspect it's one of two reasons.

The word, committed, has a finality associated with it. If you commit to something, you are making a pledge to do that thing and not go back on your pledge. Or, you may commit something to memory; the thought being that rather than it being a passing thing you have remembered, it is there for the long term.

Either that, or perhaps it is that "commited" is also often used in place of "perpetrated" in regard to crime. And until very recently (the 60's I think) in the U.K at least, suicide or attempted suicide was considered a crime. (Whether this was/is true in other parts of the world I don't know.)

  • 'Suicided' as a verb is heard as an insinuating comment. 'He was suicided,' meaning that the preponderance of evidence point to a homicide .
    – user3847
    Aug 14, 2015 at 0:06

"Commit Suicide" is falling out of usage since we use commit to infer a crime. eg: As others have mentioned "commit murder". Those in Suicide intervention and mental health advocacy do not use the phrase because it implies an illegal act. It is not illegal to die by suicide (a preferred phrase). Suicide is seen as a failure of society's safeguards more than an act of a crime by the person who has died.

  • This is an interesting point, but it doesn't touch on the difference between "commit suicide" and "suicide." Sep 24, 2015 at 18:35
  • 1
    Commit is hardly restricted to use with crimes. Just ask your girlfriend, she always wants you to commit.
    – Oldcat
    Sep 24, 2015 at 21:47

I think the difference between suicide and other verbs is that suicide used to be a crime, and so has the same form as other crimes or things that used to be crimes.

Commit has the meaning to perpetrate, so any verb that is/was a crime, can be committed.

In this sense, suicide is not being used as a verb, but a gerund.

So, you can commit

  • suicide
  • murder
  • theft
  • fraud
  • treason
  • blasphemy
  • etc.
  • 1
    According to another question I just read, a gerund in English MUST end in -ing.
    – GEdgar
    Jun 27, 2011 at 15:30
  • @GEdgar: Well, that seem counter intuitive to this particular situation where if murder or suicide were nouns they would be preceded by an article e.g. "commit a murder", but they aren't, so they must be gerunds. I don't believe there is any rule in English that can be prefixed with MUST. They all have exceptions. Jun 28, 2011 at 7:30
  • They are not gerunds. They are abstract nouns when used with "commit" and hence do not take any article. Some can be used as count nouns in other contexts but that is irrelevant. Others like "fraud" and "treason" and "insubordination" are not count nouns anyway.
    – user21820
    Jun 27, 2015 at 10:28
  • And you may ask why we say "commit a crime" instead of "commit crime" since "crime" can be used as an abstract noun... It is because "crime" is not an action whereas we say "commit X" when "X" is an abstract action. That is also why we say "commit an offence" and "commit an error" and "commit an act of murder".
    – user21820
    Jun 27, 2015 at 10:32

The verb suicide doesn't necessarily convey intent, while commit suicide does. Other than that, they mean exactly the same thing.

  • 6
    Suicide is always defined as intentional.
    – Daniel
    Jun 27, 2011 at 0:24
  • 2
    How about a suicidal mission, or any other situation where death is almost certain but the actor doesn't 100% intend to die
    – Louis Rhys
    Jun 27, 2011 at 8:48

I have a different perception: Primarily, an intention is always involved in an act of suicide. It means that no suicide can ever take place without one's intention. If anyone dies without his/ her own intention, it is regarded as a natural death or accidental death and if the same person dies at the hand of others, then it is a murder. Hence, all the above arguments are baseless at this context. If you apply a little more logic, you could see in this case 'commit suicide' is a phrase widely used in legal contexts implying that one commits a crime of suicide by the act of killing one self. If anyone talks about suicide, he is speaking, knowingly or unknowingly, about the crime of committing suicide. Otherwise, he would say 'one killed himself'.


"Commit suicide" is commonly used but eschewed by the thanatologists. It perpetuates legal and religious overtones to the act of killing oneself. Commit refers to mortal sins (as defined by the Catholic church) prior to St. Augustine, it was seen as a laudable act of fidelity to god to be a martyr. Additionally commit refers to a legal act. Suicide is no longer considered a crime punishable by law.

  • Also worth noting: To the extent that suicide may proceed from feelings of sorrow or despair, it is linked to Tristitia (sorrow) and Acedia (dejection), two of the early Church's eight deadly sins. Somehow, when Pope Gregory combined Trisititia and Acedia in 590, he ended up with Sloth, which today is viewed as being centrally concerned with neither sorrow nor dejection (and as not being particularly likely to be implicated in suicide).
    – Sven Yargs
    Aug 9, 2016 at 5:55
  • 2
    "Commit refers to mortal sins" - citation needed. "Additionally commit refers to a legal act" - citation needed.
    – AndyT
    Aug 9, 2016 at 11:06

The distinction is important for people who are suicidal. To use 'commit' has a terrible implication to people who feel that way and those around them, as if they were committing a crime.

In Japanese language - they do not put 'commit' with 'hari-kiri' but simply the verb 'do'.

Commit seams to imply a 'wilfulness' or 'determination'. I feel it is quite insensitive to believe that people are determined to suicide - as they may feel they have no choice.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.