On suicide in older men with cluster B personality traits (like Jeffrey Epstein)
Of course it’s always possible a homicide of someone high profile was made to look like a suicide. Conspiracies happen. Political murders, silencing witnesses, jailhouse frame-ups — sure, it’s all possible.
But the idea that Jeffrey Epstein could not possibly have killed himself, and that a conspiracy is self-evident, is really unfounded.
Honestly, to the contrary: as a mental health professional, it would’ve been surprising to me if he didn’t try suicide — and he’s the kind of person who would try hard and probably succeed.
Let me explain:
- Epstein was already in the high risk group: single older men.
- Any dramatic life change, especially a significantly negative one, ups suicide risk.
- Epstein was facing indefinite incarceration, and his odds of beating every charge were slim. But even if he did beat them all, denied bail and under investigation for numerous serious charges, the criminal trials alone would have taken him well into his 70s.
- Prison sucks. Especially for child sex offenders. He knew what awaited him.
- Epstein was likely a narcissist and a sociopath. Both groups have elevated suicide risk. Both groups are less impulsive and more likely to actually succeed in a suicide attempt than other demographics.
- Suicide risk is particularly high with these groups when they experience failure, humiliation, loss of power or freedom, helplessness and ongoing frustration, especially when their usual means of gratification (exploiting others) is blocked.
- Epstein lost his means of gratification, friends, power, and reputation and stood to lose his fortune, which he’d never have had a chance to spend anyway.
- Maintaining control is crucial to a man like Epstein and this was about his only option for exercising control.
- If there really had been a plot to kill him, odds are he’d have suspected that and beat them to it. Again: control was paramount. Suicide > homicide.
Not only is it not obvious that he didn’t kill himself, in fact he displayed numerous well-known risk factors and fits the profile to a T.
None of this is to say that there couldn’t have been people who wanted him dead, or even that he might have been left alone to do the deed he knew he had to do, a victim of malicious neglect, under duress.
But please stop saying he wasn’t the type, or that suicide makes no sense. It was as predictable as all the baseless, authoritative conspiracy theories that made this tedious analysis of a vile man necessary.
Thankfully, that analysis is now complete.