Markinson kills himself rather than testifying for a multitude of reasons. First, he was facing the death penalty if convicted, and he believed that his death would be preferable to spending the rest of his life in prison being deprived of freedom. Second, testifying meant admitting guilt and thus accepting responsibility for his actions. He felt immense guilt and shame over what he had done, so much so that he found it easier to die than live with the knowledge that he had taken someone’s life. Third, Markinson felt like he had failed at life since all of his professional aspirations had been derailed by his criminal activities. He could not bear the thought of living with such failure any longer.
Why does Markinson kills himself, rather than testifying?
Fourth, Markinson feared retribution from those whose lives were affected by his crime—especially the victim’s family members who may have wanted revenge against him. His fear was likely compounded by knowing that society views murder as an unforgivable crime and tends to ostracize those convicted of it; this made it nearly impossible for him to envision a future in which anyone might forgive or accept him again after confessing under oath on trial. Lastly, suicide seemed like the only way out from an increasingly hopeless situation where there seemed to be no other option but imprisonment or execution (and potentially facing animosity from both society at large and specific individuals). Suicidal ideation is complicated but often involves individuals feeling overwhelmed or trapped as well as experiencing extreme fatigue or despair; all these factors applied in Markinson’s case leading up to his decision to commit suicide rather than testify before court proceedings began.