自杀式袭击包括以恐怖活动形式的自杀式袭击（通常被定义为“以恐吓为主要目的”或“意图造成平民或非战斗人员死亡或严重肢体伤害“的行动) ，也包括不针对非战斗人员的自杀式袭击。一名曾在伊斯兰激进分子中生活过的记者杰森 · 伯克提出了另一个定义，他认为大多数人还将恐怖主义定义为“使用或威胁使用严重暴力”来推进某种“事业”，并强调恐怖主义只是一种推进其“事业”的手段策略。 学者弗雷德 · 哈利迪曾写道，将“恐怖分子“或者“恐怖主义”这两个称谓来赋予一个群体的行为也是一种策略，而恰好一些国家或者政府就会使用这种策略来否认反对派或者异议组织的“合法性“。
对于“自杀”的定义则是另外一个需要主要的问题。受政府聘用的教授艾米 · 佩达祖尔将自杀式恐怖主义本身定义为”意识到活着回来的几率几乎为零的人所犯下的暴力行为”， 这里包括了有自杀式的攻击行为（如卢德国际机场扫射事件或战场上的自杀冲锋），如果只关注真正意义上的“自杀袭击”，那对于其生存几率应该不是“接近于零”，而是等于零，因为"实施者要求任务成功的所需前提是必须确保自己能够死亡。"。
- Kay, Jonathan. Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism. Islam Daily. 13 September 2005 [5 October 2015].
- Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism. Suicide Attack Database. Cpostdata.uchicago.edu. [24 March 2016]. （原始内容存档于24 January 2016）.
- Atran, Scott. The Moral Logic and Growth of Suicide Terrorism (figure 1, pg. 128) (PDF). sitemaker.umich.edu. [July 11, 2015]. （原始内容 (PDF)存档于June 23, 2015）.
- Hoffman, Bruce. The Logic of Suicide Terrorism. The Atlantic. June 2003 [4 October 2015].
According to data from the Rand Corporation's chronology of international terrorism incidents, suicide attacks on average kill four times as many people as other terrorist acts.
- Hassan, Riaz. What Motivates the Suicide Bombers?. YaleGlobal. Yale Center for the Study of Globalization. September 3, 2009 [November 2, 2012]. （原始内容存档于October 4, 2013）.
- (Click "Search Database", then under "filter by", click "location". Afghanistan (1059) Iraq (1938) and Pakistan (490) have a total 3487 attacks out of a total of 4620 worldwide.)Year: 1982–2015. Group. Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism Suicide Attack Database. [2015-11-20]. （原始内容存档于2016-01-24）.
- Hutchinson, W. The systemic roots of suicide bombing. Systems Research and Behavioral Science. March 2007, 24 (2): 191–200. doi:10.1002/sres.824.
- de la Corte Ibáñez, Luis. The Social Psychology of Suicide Terrorism. ict.org.il. International Institute for Counter Terrorism. 19 October 2014 [22 December 2015].
Terrorism involves the use of force or violence in order to instill fear as a means of coercing individuals or groups to change their political or social positions which means that social influence is the ultimate goal of terrorism. Obviously we could say the same about suicide terrorism. [...] An alternative perspective views terrorism, including suicide terrorism, as tool: a means to an end and a tactic of warfare that anyone could use.
- For example, 90% of attacks in Iraq prior to the civil war (starting in 2003) aimed at forcing out occupying forces. Pape's tabulation of suicide attacks runs from 1980 to early 2004 in Dying to Win and to 2009 in Cutting the Fuse.
- Scott Atran| The Moral Logic and Growth of Suicide Terrorism 互联网档案馆的存檔，存档日期June 23, 2015，. (pp. 131, 133); sitemaker.umich.edu; accessed July 11, 2015.
- Definition given by Kofi Annan, March 2005 in the UN General Assembly, while Secretary General of the UN.Story: UN reform. United Nations. [2010-02-24]. （原始内容存档于2007-04-27）.
- Jason Burke. Al-Qaeda: The True Story of Radical Islam. I.B.Tauris. 2004: 1–24 (22) [August 19, 2012]. ISBN 978-1-85043-666-9.
- F. Halliday. (2002). Two Hours that Shook the World: September 11, 2001 – Causes and Consequences, Saqi; ISBN 0-86356-382-1, pp. 70–71
- Number of suicide attacks and deaths from attacks 1982–2014. From Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism Suicide Attack Database
- Pedahzur, p. 8
- Yoram Schweitzer. Suicide Terrorism: Development and Characteristics. International Institute for Counter-Terrorism. April 21, 2000 [March 22, 2015].
... a very specific kind of attack. It does not deal with the very high-risk terror operations that leave only little chance of survival to their perpetrators. Such attacks as the Japanese Red Army's (JRA) attack at Lod airport in 1972, Abu Nidal's attack on a synagogue in Istanbul in 1986 and the PFLP-GC hand-glider attack on an army barracks in Kiryat Shmona in 1987 fall outside the scope of this paper. Also excluded were the self-inflicted deaths of members of terrorist organization, ... a politically motivated violent attack perpetrated by a self-aware individual (or individuals) who actively and purposely causes his own death through blowing himself up along with his chosen target. ... the perpetrator's ensured death is a precondition for the success of his mission."
- Dodd, Henry. A short history of suicide bombing. Action on Armed Violence. 23 Aug 2013 [6 October 2015].
First of all let's be clear what kind of attacks we are talking about. Suicide bombings are those that involve the deliberate death of the perpetrator. We’re not just talking about a reckless charge in battle. The focus is on those attacks where the perpetrator functions as a sophisticated guidance system for the weapon. They function as part human and part weapon. In this way they are suicide attacks rather than suicidal attacks.