Osbourne said in 1991 that the song was about the alcohol-related death of AC/DC's Bon Scott in 1980, but Bob Daisley revealed in 2002 that he had Osbourne himself in mind when he wrote the lyrics. A live version of the song from Osbourne's 1987 album Tribute is notable for an extended guitar solo midway through by guitarist Randy Rhoads. A very similar solo can be heard on the song "Laughing Gas" by Quiet Riot, the band Rhoads had founded in the 1970s. Rhoads had originally used the main guitar riff to "Suicide Solution", which opens the song, in the verse of the Quiet Riot track "Force of Habit".
On 12 January 1986, a lawsuit against Osbourne was filed by the parents of John McCollum, a depressed teenager who committed suicide allegedly after listening to this song. The plaintiffs, however, failed to prove that Osbourne had any responsibility for the teenager's death. The plaintiffs' attorneys alleged that a line in the song stated, "Why try? Get the gun and shoot!" Lyricist Daisley and Osbourne himself both claimed that the line actually says, "Get the flaps out". "Flaps", they insisted, was an English vulgar slang term for female genitalia. Don Arden, Black Sabbath's former manager and the father of Sharon Osbourne, is on record as having said of the song's controversial lyrics: "To be perfectly honest, I would be doubtful as to whether Mr. Osbourne knew the meaning of the lyrics, if there was any meaning, because his command of the English language is minimal."