Green’s Dictionary of Slang

Dutch act n.

also Dutch route

(Can./US Und.) suicide; thus do the Dutch act v., to commit suicide.

[US]Sun (NY) 26 Dec. 5/2: Whimiver anny one wants ter do th’ Dutch act — commit suicide — they just drink carbolic [...] the standard Dutch pisen.
[US](con. 1890s) H. Hapgood Autobiog. of a Thief 112: A week later Dal was found dead in his cell, and I believe he did the Dutch act (suicide).
[US]A. Berkman Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist (1926) 444: Both French leave and the Dutch act are out of the question now. I have decided to stay – till I can walk through the gates.
[US]J. Callahan Man’s Grim Justice 198: I think I might have done the ‘Dutch act’ (committed suicide) that day.
[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks 35/2: Dutch route, suicide.
[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 6 Nov. [synd. col.] Three men attempt the Dutch act for every woman trying it.
M. Spillane Vengeance Is Mine in Mike Hammer Coll. (2001) 473: A girl pulled the Dutch act.
[US]T. Runyon In For Life 98: Aw, he tried the Dutch Route.
[US]T. Berger Reinhart in Love (1963) 19: Reinhart derived nothing but an urge to escape, by any means less final than the Dutch act.
[US]J. Susann Love Machine (1997) 182: Last month my wife — my ex-wife, we’ve been divorced for five years — did the Dutch act: pills.
[US] Kojak New York City 19 Feb. [WNEW-TV] Some woman did a Dutch act at the Shepherd Arms [R].
[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 105: Dutch Act also Dutch Route Committing suicide in prison.
[UK]D. O’Donnell Locked Ward (2013) 92: Albie intended do do the Dutch act that night [...] Albie would have strangled himself.

In phrases

do a/the Dutch act (v.)

in fig. use, to run away, to flee.

[US]Eve. Star (Wash., DC) 21 May 39/1: ‘All right ’bo [...] Better do the Dutch.’ In a moment the tramp had disappeared.
Mt. Sterling Advocate (KY) 7 Dec. 5/4: There are occasions when a father of a grown daughter wishes Romeo would do the Dutch act.
[US]Maledicta III:2 157: Dutch act, do a v phr Flee, escape.
take the Dutch route (v.) (also go the Dutch route)

(US prison) to commit suicide.

[US]Morn. Examiner (Ogden, UT) 9 May 8/1: Life in the penitentiary would kill me in a week or ten days and rather than submit to this, I would take the ‘Durtch route’.
[UK]D. Lowrie My Life in Prison 105: I never thought he’d go th’ Dutch route.
[US]Wash. Times (DC) 9 Oct. 14/8: Recalling the days of 1911, when it downpoured for eight days without a break and came near driving all connected with the pastime to the Dutch route.
[US]J. Lait Put on the Spot 197: [He] heard his mob was massacred, and he had that confession hang-over, he took the Dutch route — the CKX — hung himself in his cell by his suspenders.