Mentions of Suicide on M*A*S*H

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Bryan e-mailed me a few days ago with an interesting, if somewhat morbid, question:

While the episode guide is very helpful I’m still trying to find an episode in the series where a character either talks about or commits suicide. With a theme song like “Suicide is Painless” you’d think there would be more mention of it! The film had a rather large scene but I’m finding it hard to nail down one from the series. In “End Run”, Billy Tyler briefly mentions wanting to die if he loses his leg, but I can’t find any others.

Please let me know if something comes to mind. I’d love to know.

In addition to “End Run,” I’ve come up with three other episodes in which someone mentions, considers or actually tries to commit suicide:

  • The Chosen People” (Season 2, Episode 43)
    An overworked and overwrought Henry asks Sam Pak (played by Pat Morita) what the Korean word for suicide is. According to Pak, “that’s the Japanese. We don’t do that shtick.”

  • End Run” (Season 5, Episode 113)
    Billy Tyler (played by Henry Brown), a football player, contemplates suicide after losing his leg and asks for pills. Hawkeye talks to him but it is Radar who ultimately convinces him that life is still worth living even with only one leg.

  • The Smell of Music” (Season 6, Episode 135)
    Saunders (played by Jordan Clarke) has been wounded in the face and feels nobody will ever want to look at him again, especially his girl back home. So he tries to kill himself, first by overdosing on sleeping pills and then by inhaling an anesthetic (perhaps nitrous oxide). Colonel Potter uses a particularly harsh brand of reverse psychology that forces Saunders to come to realize he doesn’t want to die.

  • Goodbye, Cruel World” (Season 8, Episode 190)
    Sgt. Yee (played by Clyde Kusatsu) tries to commit suicide by slashing his wrists after learning that he’ll be sent home due to being wounded. Sidney Freedman is called in and determines that Sgt. Yee feels guilty for fighting an Asian enemy. He hypnotizes Sgt. Yee so that whenever he feels guilty he’ll twitch his hand rather than try to end his life.

Can anyone think of other episodes in which suicide plays a role?

12 Replies to “Mentions of Suicide on M*A*S*H”

  1. There are a few comments made related to suicide.

    One instance that stands out in my mind was an episode where Frank is showing either BJ or Trapper (can’t remember which episode!) his knife which is a Hara-kiri dagger (Japanese Samurai ritual suicide). Frank is asked to “break it in.” It was a very obscure reference.

  2. There is one episode where Hawkeye mentions “walking (or backing) into a chopper blade” but I can’t remember which one (maybe one of the Dear Dads).

    1. That segment was right after Mulcahey punched the one patient. He was outside and when Hawkeye trued to calm him diwn, he kept repeating what a minister says and thst he is to actually do. Them Hawkeye says sobhe hit a guy and comments on how it’s a wonder everyone doesn’t walk into a chopper blade.

  3. Klinger douses himself with gasoline (which is supposed to be water, but Colonel Potter has replaced it with actual gasoline) – “Hey! Who put gasoline in my gasoline?” – “Nobody light a match! Stay away from me!” (Season 5 – The Most Unforgettable Characters).

  4. This is kind of stretching it a bit, but in the “Officer of the Day” episode, Hawkeye mentioned in his “I will not carry a gun” scene about committing hari kari “if you show me how…”….which is incidentally one of my favorite quotes/scenes…

  5. In ‘Carry On, Hawkeye’, when everyone has the flu, Hawkeye give Margaret and says, “On page six you’ll see my resignation. If you skip every word you’ll also see it’s a suicide note.” I may not be quoting exactly correctly, but that’s the gist of it, at least.

  6. In Merchant of Korea – opening sequence, Hawkeye and BJ are making gin, and Radar comes with the mail. They taste the gin (it is terrible) and Radar says “How can you sirs do that to yourselves?” – and BJ replies “Everybody needs a hobby. Ours is committing suicide.”

  7. Hi!

    Well, theoretically it isn’t a suicide, but practically it is. In the episode “Who Knew”, lt. Millie Carpenter takes a walk to try to clear her mind of Hawkeye, and she steps on a landmine and dies.

  8. Just thought of another one from ‘Dear Sigmund’

    When BJ and Hawkeye are talking to Sidney about his letter, Sidney talks about one of his patients, a sweet young boy, who kept hearing voices in his head telling him to kill himself and then one night, he did…..Im paraphrasing.

    1. Sidney tells that to Mulcahey and says when he loses a patient hebloses a mind. Mulcahey responds that when he loses someone he loses a soul. “I guess it all depends on how you look at it.”

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