Suicide in the Wilderness

I’ll assume committing suicide in the wilderness is not your goal when venturing out into the forest or desert, but an excitingly anticipated adventure can easily turn deadly in the wild. How? Well, accidents of course, falling from a cliff while attempting a selfie. Being mauled by the bear you didn’t notice because you were busy taking selfies, or being crushed by the huge branch that broke off the dead tree at a most inopportune time. These and probably another fifty accidental occurrences could result in death or severe injury. However, depending on how you view it, a death could be the result of a suicide in the wilderness.

The point I’m trying to drive home here is, going into the wilderness unprepared can end in tragedy. If you know this and still venture out into hostile unexplored areas, it could be viewed as a suicide should tragedy occur. Let’s look at a few examples or tools which could be construed as contributing to ones own demise.

Suicide Tips:

Venture into the wilderness without shelter. This stat does not include accidental deaths, but one must remember @98% of reported deaths from being lost in the wilderness are the result of exposure, which translates into the person died of hypothermia or heat stroke. The best method to avoid this type of potential deathly situation is to protect yourself with a shelter. That does not necessarily mean you need to pack a tent on your back, although that’s a good idea, but you must have the knowledge to use natures materials to construct a suitable shelter.

Originally this may sound ridiculously simple, but …. next time you’re in the wilderness stop and survey the immediate area. Then from what you see, imagine constructing a primitive shelter that would at least partially protect you from heat and cold. You may find yourself astonished at how difficult that may be. You require a certain amount of knowledge, adaptability and construction savvy to utilize several different available materials to build a primitive shelter.


Amazing what can be built

Suicide in the Wilderness Tips:

Most people, by nature, don’t want to face or think about an unpleasant experience occurring, much alone a life or death scenario. This is a person’s first potential fatal mistake. Have you ever read or heard of a person intentionally going into the wilderness totally unprepared just to see if they could survive the harshness of nature? “Just for kicks let’s see if I come out alive.”

99.9% of wilderness survival situations begin quite innocently. A canoe trip down the lazy river, a day hike with friends, or a father son hunting or fishing trip, all innocent adventures. However, we miscalculate the risk involved and are suddenly faced with a life and death scenario. The canoe tips over in the river and all the supplies are swept away in the middle of nowhere. An unexpected storm hits while you’re hiking at high altitudes with no shelter or the father accidentally shoots himself in the foot. These and a hundred other things could happen which turns the fun day trip into a nightmare.

The only thing you can do is take a reality check of your plans before you leave… after is far too late. No, you can’t think of everything nor could you carry everything needed to address all types of situations. But … you can do the basics.

  • Nice sunny day … take a jacket just in case the weather turns

  • Drinking fountains along the hiking trail … take a bottle of water anyway

  • Tell someone where you are going and when you’ll return…. Hard to find someone you don’t know is missing

  • Have a well supplied bug-out bag in the trunk of your car

Suicide Tips:

Dressing stylish. A day hike will probably mean meeting other hikers and one must be dressed stylish in order to impress. Short shorts, a sports bra top and flip flops, maybe sandals, creates an exciting appearance. It’s also an excellent way to die prematurely. Wearing the wrong clothes is an open invitation for disaster. There are a few Cardinal rules which should be adhered to even if you think they’re stupid.

  • As a rule always dress one layer warmer than you anticipate you’ll need. If its a 90 degree morning, wear a tee-shirt, but tie a windbreaker around your waist or around your shoulders. You may grumble all day about towing this annoying jacket around with you, but if the temperature drops by 20 degrees F, you’ll be very glad you have it to put on.

  • Along this same line. Forgetting your second layer of clothing in the car, or closet or at the front door hopefully would not come back and bite you in butt. There’s little worse than shivering in the cold and knowing your warm jacket is in the backseat of your car, 20 miles away.

  • Clothing of the right type of material. If you are an outdoors person you have probably heard the slogans “cotton kills” “cotton is rotten” and “friends don’t let friends wear cotton.” Once cotton clothing becomes wet it loses all its warmth retaining qualities and actually contributes to making you colder. Wear wool clothing when possible.

  • Have a shell jacket and pants tucked away somewhere. These articles can be squeezed into small packs and will help protect you from snow and rain.

  • Keep in mind …. most cases of deadly hypothermia occur in temperatures above 40 degrees F. You don’t need to be at the North Pole to die of exposure.

Suicide in the Wilderness Tip:

It Can Happen

Many people feel if they are hiking or what not in a public area or that they know the area, there is no need to know how to navigate. Just follow the trail. A potentially deadly mistake.

  • A short version. The entire summer I was helping my father-in-law log his 600 acre parcel of land before returning to school. I knew every inch of that 600 acre parcel. While deer hunting that winter I climbed to the top of a hill I knew very well. The entire mountain top had the appearance of an Apocalypse. The winter gray sky and devastation bewildered me and left me totally lost. What happened was loggers had clear cut the area since I had last been there leaving me confused and slightly panicked.

Anybody, experienced or not can easily enter a thicket of trees and brush and get turned around. You will swear you know where you are going, the entire time traveling deeper into the wilderness. It’s important to remember the survivalist saying “Two is one and one is none.” Meaning if you only have your cell phone GPS to guide you and it stops working you have no navigation help. If you count on your GPS also take a compass or a map. Familiarize yourself on how to navigate by the sun and/or stars. You may encounter a situation you had no time to plan for. Knowledge doesn’t break or gets lost.

Suicide Tip:

The wilderness is a strange thing. If you’re lost in a stand of timber and brush, you can hear the rescue workers yelling for you, but they can not hear you yelling back at them. Defies logic, mine anyway, but its true, So you can be yelling your head off and the rescue personnel will trek right on by. Moral of the story is you need to know how to signal for help.

Any well supplied sports store or gun shop will have an area dedicated to devises to be used to signal for help. They will include whistles, mirrors, flare guns, emergency beacons, radios, GPS locators, etc. etc. Know how to signal from natures bounty. Remember the number Three (3) which is an internationally recognized signal for distress. Pile three piles of rocks where they can be seen. Build 3 fires, one fire may be mistaken for another campers campfire. Use SOS in the snow. Learn how to draw attention to yourself.


Suicide in the Wilderness Tip:

They say that without fire man would have never evolved into what we are. The ability to cook our food offered us an advantage over other animals. I don’t know…I wasn’t there, but I do know what fire means to me:

  1. Warmth. There’s nothing better than a roaring fire to warm the body and soul.

  2. Protection. A raging fire will keep wild animals and a lot of insects at bay providing protection in a hostile world

  3. A fire can be used to signal for help. Few things can be seen for miles like a fire at night and smoke during the day.

  4. Can be used to purify life giving water.

  5. And can be used to cook wild meat

  6. Can be a companion on a pitch black night

Always have more than one method of creating fire. Matches can get wet, lighters run out of fluid, rubbing 2 sticks together work once in a lifetime. Carry a fire starter, flint and steel, and tinder.


Where’s the water? We all know, or should know, we are mainly made of water, @70% I think, therefore the idea that going without water for only a few days, (3) will result in death should come as no surprise. The issue may not be where is there water, it may be all around, river, lake, stream or pond, but the issue is where is safe water?

Water running along a babbling brook, clear as a bell, may contain waterborne organisms such as Giardia or Cryptosporidium which will inflict severe suffering on the drinker. You won’t die, but the severe diarrhea and vomiting will make you wish you’d die. Additionally the constant fluid loss only compounds the problem of dehydration, which is what you were attempting to avoid in the first place.

There are many methods for purifying contaminated water, but we’ll look at only a few. The first is obviously boiling the water over a fire, which will destroy any harmful bacteria. There are chemical tablets designed specifically for this purpose. Water filters, which look like a straw will filter dirty water. Bleach will also make potable water as will filtering through charcoal ash. Learn as many of these water purification methods as possible. Your life may depend on it.

Final Suicide in the Wilderness Tip and Summary:

Be Prepared” the famous motto of the Boy Scouts was not created to be a catchy or cute term. It’s a life long lesson that everybody should follow, but many who venture blindly into the wilderness do not. For some reason they think the hardships are only on the TV set, or they are immune to such situations. I can’t answer for them, but I can tell you “Nobody is exempt or protected from the unexpected.”

Know these 5 Keys to surviving in the wilderness:

  1. Know how to build a shelter

  2. Know how to start and maintain a fire

  3. Know how to find and produce potable water

  4. Know how to signal for help

  5. Know how to locate food

Suicide in the Wilderness should probably read how not to commit suicide in the wilderness, but I thought I’d try a different approach and maybe reach more people.


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