My Japanese friend used the term 自殺志願者 jokingly in a journal entry, saying she sometimes wondered if she qualified for such a position. I could not find a specific dictionary definition for this word, but found it translated as:

suicide wanna-be

those who want to kill oneself

would-be suicide

suicide volunteer/ suicide candidate (the latter being the most literal translation)

In common context is this word ironic? Is it a comedic term in and of itself? If it is a common word, is it used mostly in a clinical or in a jocular way?


自殺志願者 usually means its literal meaning: “a person who has a desire to commit suicide.” Although anything can be used in an ironic way, I do not think that it is particularly common to use this word ironically.

I have seen the word 自殺志願者 or similar words in a derogatory sense, “a person who does such a stupid and dangerous thing that it cannot be explained unless he/she wants to kill him/herself.”

  • Ok thanks. I asked because most dictionaries listed 志願者 as "applicant; candidate" (i.e., those applying for school entry or a job). I also saw "volunteer" but in a less verifiable source. So I thought maybe someone "applying" for the opportunity to commit suicide would be somewhat ironic. But maybe I am reading too much into it?
    – yadokari
    Dec 23 '12 at 21:11
  • @yadokari: Ah, I see. 志願する is indeed usually used for applying for school or job, but 自殺志願者 is a usual term to refer to a person who has a desire to commit suicide. The “desire to commit suicide” itself is 自殺願望, and I do not know why a person who has such desire is usually called not 自殺願望者 but 自殺志願者. (By the way, thanks for the edit!) Dec 23 '12 at 21:34
  • You're welcome, and thank you for the further elucidation. That answers my questions.
    – yadokari
    Dec 23 '12 at 21:41
  • Do you think 自殺志望者 is a more common term?
    – yadokari
    Dec 24 '12 at 2:11
  • @yadokari: I do not know, but without checking anything, my guess is no. This may be just me, but the word 自殺志望者 sounds a little funny to me because of a possible pun between 志望 and 死亡. Because of this, I probably avoid using the word 自殺志望者 in any serious situation. Dec 24 '12 at 2:23

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