The balance between cell death and survival is a critical parameter in the regulation of cells and the maintenance of homeostasis in vivo . Three major mechanisms for cell death have been identified in mammalian cells: apoptosis (type I), autophagic cell death (type II), and necrosis (type III). These three mechanisms have been suggested to engage in cross talk with each other . Among them, autophagy was originally characterized as a cell survival mechanism for amino acid recycling during starvation . Whether autophagy functions primarily in cell survival or cell death is a critical question yet to be answered . Here, we present a comprehensive review of the cell death-related events that take place during autophagy and their underlying mechanisms in cancer and autoimmune disease development.