This has been a particularly difficult fact to determine if it is true or not. It was actually beginning to look like it was more of an urban myth and not a verifiable fact. But we have the goods. Attempted suicide was punishable by death, usually hanging in Great Britain until 1961. Hanging was the usual method of executions during the 18th to 20th centuries in Great Britain. In saying that, the death penalty was rarely exercised as punishment for attempted suicide. This would seem a little backwards. Why hang a person as punishment who was trying to kill themselves?
Many religions and societies around the world have frowned upon suicide, while some see it as an honorable act. It has been deemed as a crime against God by most religions, and those who commit suicide forfeit their soles for eternity. In some cultures suicide was seen as an honorable act, juch as with the Kamikaze pilots of World War 2.
In Great Britain during the 19th century, suicide was considered a serious crime. As serious as murder and attempted murder. Those who survived a failed suicide attempt would face criminal charges. It has even been documented that some were even hanged for their crime of attempted suicide during the late 19th century.
In the early 20th century, attempted suicide became a misdemeanor and punishable by law. On most occasions the punishment was a fine or a period behind bars. In fact, there were even a few successful prosecutions of attempted suicide during the early part of the 20th century.
In 1961 Great Britain realized their errors and passed the Suicide Act (1961), and it was followed by the Criminal Justice Act (1966) in Northern Ireland. These two acts meant the act of suicide and attempted suicide no longer a misdemeanor and illegal. In 1993, the Republic of Ireland became the last European country to decriminalize suicide.