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Understanding Suicide: One Theory of Many

June 6, 2024

Based on one theory, there are 6 stages of escalation in reaching the breaking point.* According to Roy Baumiester, a social psychologist, being aware of these stages may help anyone identify when and what kind of support to receive or provide:  

  1. Trigger 
  1. Self-blame and shame 
  1. Isolation 
  1. Self-destructive behaviors 
  1. Apathy and numbness 
  1. Belief in no other options  

Learn more about Baumiester's clinical research here: Baumiester's model isn’t the only theory, but it offers us one way to understand what to look for.  
*If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out to support services such as your physician, the local ER, or the 988 hotline in ASL ( and click ASL NOW). 

Stay Informed in ASL: We’ve got you covered! Sign up with your email at or follow us on social media for new and current health updates. 

Transcript and Video Description

[Video Description: The post has a video thumbnail with a teal shading overlaid. The middle has a text bubble that reads “Stages of escalation” in white text with rose background. In the video: a young woman with clear glasses wears a white striped shirt. 

Transcript: How does one reach the breaking point? There are several theories. One explanation is based on Roy Baumiester’s research, shows that there are 6 stages of escalation. At each point of escalation, the severity increases. Individuals can receive help at any stage but knowing these stages may help us understand what kind of support to receive or provide. The six stages are: 1. Trigger. This occurs when someone’s life does not match their expectations. Triggers can be major life changes such as a divorce or job loss. This event leads to the second stage. 2. Shame and self-blame. The individual feels like a failure blaming themselves for what has happened. Self blame leads to the third stage: 3. Isolation. The individual emotionally distances themselves from others and the meaning of life. They begin to lose hope that things will change, and their brain is unable to recognize how their absense will impact others. 4. Self destructive behaviors. The person may start to participate in self-destructive behaviors. This can look like drinking, substance abuse, or self-harm. 5. Apathy. The person begins to feel numb and apathic. The person goes through the motions of life but is not present in their body. 6. Belief in no other options. This sage is the final and most dangerous stage. The person has made up their mind, and they have decided that there are no other available solutions. Death feels like the only solution. As one progresses through each stage, problem solving and discussion becomes much harder. It is important to be aware of the signs at each stage, and use this knowledge to identify when and how we need to reachout or provide support. Remember, you are not alone. Your pain and emotions, while it can be overwhelming, is temporary.  [The screen fades to show a thumbnail of a faded white background of a doctor holding hands with another individual] Deaf. Healthy. DeafHealth. Learn more at] 

Mental Health

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