This paper exposes an extension of an activation model previously published by the authors. When particles arranged along the compression axis of a sheared suspension, they may overcome the electrostatic repulsion and form force chains associated with shear thickening. A percolation-based consideration allows an estimation of the impact of the force chains on a flowing suspension. It suggests that similar to mode coupling models, the suspension becomes unstable before the critical stress evaluated from the activation model is reached. The percolated force chains lead to discontinuous shear thickening. The model predictions are compared with results from two experimental studies on aqueous suspensions of inorganic oxides; in one of them, hydration repulsion and in the other hydrophobic attraction can be expected. It is shown that the incorporation of non-Derjaguin-Landau-Verwey-Overbeek forces greatly improve predictions of the shear thickening instability. © Springer-Verlag 2009.