There are a number of behaviors which can prime a person towards suicidal tendencies. "Past experience of any sort that will get you used to pain or injury or death has the potential to make you more and more fearless," says psychologist Thomas E. Joiner, author of Why People Die By Suicide. (Springen, 2010) In a paper on the subject, he and colleagues write that "engaging in painful and provocative experiences, including past suicide attempts, increases an individual's acquired capability for self-harm." (Van Orden et al., 2008) Therefore things like cutting or eating disorders, which desensitize a person towards physical discomfort, can increase a person's propensity towards suicide. Cutting can also increase the risk because some cutters push the envelope too far, and may underestimate the risk of death.
Any type of drug or alcohol abuse raises the risk of suicide several times over. This is because alcohol and drugs of all types increase impulsiveness and also mess with the brain's emotional regulation system. So a person tends to develop more interpersonal and emotional problems, and regular drug or alcohol use not only provides plenty of opportunities where impulse control is low, but it numbs them as to the act and consequences of suicide. "They use alcohol as the lubricant that allows them to take action," says Marvin Seppala, chief medical officer at Hazelden, a nonprofit addiction treatment program. (Springen, 2010)
Environmental risk factors for suicide