It is commonly known that the probability of surviving after slitting your wrists is much higher if you cut horizontally and that you should cut along the forearm to cut a longer portion of the artery and bleed quicker if you plan to commit suicide.

However, people are often depicted in movies slitting their wrists horizontally.

Is this done on purpose to increase the probability that somebody imitating the movie will survive for example, or is this just a mistake or a coincidence that a majority of movies follow this convention?

  • Your question sounds more answerable from the perspective of "Is this to prevent successful suicide imitation?" than from the general way that it's ended now ("or is this just a mistake or coincidence?").
    – user9733
    Commented Jun 22, 2014 at 20:57
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is not about movies/tv shows. For a question of this nature to be answered in an objective way, one would need be a medical professional, not a movie buff, therefor it is off topic, in my opinion.
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Jun 22, 2014 at 22:44
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    This isn't off topic; its about a cinematic convention of depicting suicide in an inefficient way: whether there was some kind of consensus on showing it this way. With a little research, this could produce a fantastic answer... Commented Jun 23, 2014 at 13:48
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    I'm with @JohnSmithOptional here, this can be an interesting look into something that is commonly depicted in films, as well as opens up a whole avenue of question types dealing with typical movie tropes/conventions Wording needs a bit of cleanup, however
    – Tablemaker
    Commented Jun 23, 2014 at 14:32
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    Thanks for the comments; I'm sorry for the wording of the question, but I'm not english, so it wasn't very clear. I thougth this question to be on topic here because there could be historical reasons (ie: a movie depicted suicide this way and everybody else copied it) or practical ones as I hinted in the question, either way it seems to be a convention for movies and there could be an interesting reason behind it
    – user8901
    Commented Jun 23, 2014 at 14:48

2 Answers 2


Movies are for telling stories and entertaining. To do that effectively, it is sometimes easier to repeat an incorrect but widely held belief. Showing a more factual version may be more difficult, may take more screen time, or may break up the flow of the story.

For example, many ways that firearms are depicted in movies are factually wrong (or impractical or both) but have become familiar enough that they can be repeated and everyone watching understands what is supposed to be happening. Likewise, movies regularly show elevators failing and falling down. When elevators fail, they fall up (I have experience with it. I know. Also a recent news story shows a video of it happening). It would take to much screen time to explain this to viewers, and that gets in the way of the story (unless the story is about elevators or guns and how they work).

Also, I am sure that no one wants to make the movie that helps anyone commit suicide. If they're determined, they'll find out on their own, but I don't want to help them.

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    Surprised no one mentioned The Big Chill yet, which is the exception to the rule: as can be seen in the opening credit sequence (around 3:14), the deceased Alex has slashed his wrists vertically.
    – Walt
    Commented Aug 10, 2014 at 13:57
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    The elevator issue highly depends on what fails. If the cable on the counter weight fails, both the cab and the weight fall down. Even when the brakes fail and the counter weight falls, the cab does fall "up", but then the counter weight hits the floor and shatters, so the cab also falls down.
    – cde
    Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 4:50
  • @cde If you've seen that happen, then I can only accept that you're right. I've seen the opposite. The car stayed at the top of the shaft until it was manually lowered by repairmen. Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 11:49

Statistics show that most people who try to commit suicide don't really want to die. That should be enough for their being unsuccessful in the attempt. In addition, even those who really want to die don't have any knowledge of anatomy so as to perforate the right artery. Movie makers aren't any experts either.

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