Ántonia's father, Mr. Shimerda, commits suicide by going into the family's barn and putting the barrel of his shotgun in his mouth. He uses his big toe to pull the trigger. His despair and homesickness overtake his responsibility to his family.
A second suicide in the novel is described by Ántonia. She tells the story of a tramp that she encounters; he opens up to her and talks about drowning himself, noting that the ponds are too shallow to do so. Instead, he throws himself into a threshing machine.
Wick Cutter is another character who commits suicide in the novel, and he does it by fatally wounding himself after he has shot his wife to death. Cutter is attempting to subvert a law that would have allowed his wife's family to inherit his estate. His suicide is his ultimate spiteful act after living a life of exploiting others for his own gratification and a final attempt at control, something that was of prime importance to him in life.
By including the three suicides in My Ántonia, Cather may be observing that self-destructive tendencies can overtake people for different reasons. By contrast, Ántonia is a survivor; she is able to absorb and eventually process the reasons these men have opted to end their lives.