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Encyclopedia > Philosophical views of suicide
Suicide
Types of suicide
Teenage suicide
Euthanasia / Assisted suicide
Murder-suicide
Suicide bombing
Ritual suicide
Cult suicide
Mass suicide
Suicide pact
Internet suicide
Copycat suicide
Forced suicide
Suicide by cop
History and Methodology
History of suicide
Famous suicides
Parasuicide (threats of suicide)
Suicide methods
Suicide note
Suicide watch
Views on suicide
Cultural
Legal
Medical
Philosophical
Religious
Right to die
Resources for dealing with suicidal thoughts
Crisis hotline
Assessment of suicide risk
Suicide prevention
Crisis hotlines by country
Medical views of suicide
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In ethics and other branches of philosophy suicide poses a difficult question, answered differently by philosophers from different times and traditions. Suicide (from Latin sui caedere, to kill oneself) is the act of willfully ending ones own life. ... The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view. ... Euthanasia (from Greek: ευθανασία -ευ, eu, good, θανατος, thanatos, death) is the practice of terminating the life of a person or an animal because they are perceived as living an intolerable life, in a painless or minimally painful way either by lethal injection, drug overdose, or by the withdrawal of life support. ... A murder suicide is an act in which an individual kills one or more other persons immediately before, or while killing himself. ... A suicide attack is an attack in which the attacker or attackers intend and expect to die (see suicide). ... Ritual suicide is the act of suicide motivated by a religious, spiritual, or traditional ritual. ... Cult suicide is that phenomenon by which some religious groups, in this context often referred to as cults, have led to their membership committing suicide. ... Mass suicide occurs when a number of people kill themselves together with one another or for the same reason and is usually connected to a real or perceived persecution. ... A suicide pact describes the suicides of two or more individuals in an agreed-upon plan. ... An Internet suicide is a suicide pact made between individuals who meet on the Internet. ... A copycat suicide is defined as a duplication or copycat of another suicide that the person attempting suicide knows about either from local knowledge or due to accounts or depictions of the original suicide on television and in other media. ... Forced suicide is a method of execution where the victim is given the choice of committing suicide or facing an alternative they perceive as worse, such as suffering torture; having friends or family members imprisoned, tortured or killed; or losing honor, position or means. ... Suicide-by-cop is a suicide method in which someone deliberately acts in a threatening way towards a law enforcement officer, with the main goal of provoking a lethal response (e. ... Suicide has been part of the history of the world - people of all walks of life had committed suicide over the years. ... // Famous People Who Died by Suicide See also: deaths by accidental drug overdose, people by cause of death This is an incomplete list, which may never be able to satisfy certain standards for completeness. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... now. ... Kurt Cobains alleged suicide note. ... Suicide watch is the act of a prison officer making sure that a prisoner does not commit suicide because they show intentions of doing so. ... Various human cultures may have views on suicide not directly or solely linked to religious views of suicide. ... This page concerns suicide. ... Modern medical views on suicide consider suicide to be a mental health issue. ... There are a variety of religious views of suicide. ... For the 1987 film, see Right to Die (film) The term right to die refers to various issues around the death of an individual when that person could continue to live with the aid of life support, or in a diminished or enfeebled capacity. ... Wikipedia contains a list of crisis hotlines by country. ... The routine assessment of suicide risk is an important clinical skill. ... Various suicide prevention strategies have been used: Promoting mental resilience through optimism and connectedness. ... List of crisis hotlines by country USA - 1-800-784-2433 (1-800-SUICIDE) National Hopeline Network USA - 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK) National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Links http://www. ... Modern medical views on suicide consider suicide to be a mental health issue. ... Ethics (from the Ancient Greek ethikos, meaning arising from habit) is one of the major branches of philosophy, one that covers the analysis and employment of concepts such as right, wrong, good, evil, and responsibility. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Suicide (from Latin sui caedere, to kill oneself) is the act of willfully ending ones own life. ...

Contents


Arguments against suicide

There have been many philosophical arguments made that contend that suicide is immoral and unethical. One popular argument is that many of the reasons for committing suicide, such as depression, emotional pain or economic hardship, are transitory and treatable through therapy and lifestyle changes. A common adage in the discourse surrounding suicide prevention sums up this view: Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Ken Baldwin, a depressed 28 year-old who attempted suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, recalls his first thoughts after he jumped: "I instantly realized that everything in my life that I’d thought was unfixable was totally fixable—except for having just jumped" [1]. However, the argument against this is that while emotional pain may seem transitory to most people, and in many cases it is, in many other cases it may be extremely difficult or even impossible to resolve, even through counseling or lifestyle change, depending on the severity of the case and the persons ability to cope with their pain. Examples of this are incurable disease or severe, lifelong mental illness. Suicide (from Latin sui caedere, to kill oneself) is the act of willfully ending ones own life. ... Clinical depression is a state of sadness, melancholia or despair that has advanced to the point of being disruptive to an individuals social functioning and/or activities of daily living. ... An adage (IPA ) is a short, but memorable saying, which holds some important fact of experience that is considered true by many people, or it has gained some credibility through its long use. ... Various suicide prevention strategies have been used: Promoting mental resilience through optimism and connectedness. ... The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate, the opening into the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean. ...


Classical Liberalism

It is important to note that the liberal view above is not associated with classical liberalism; John Stuart Mill, for instance, argued in his influential essay On Liberty that since the sine qua non of liberty is the power of the individual to make choices; any choice that one might make that would deprive him or her of the ability to make further choices should be prevented. Thus, for Mill, selling oneself into slavery or killing oneself should be prevented, in order to avoid precluding the ability to make further choices. Concerning these matters, Mill writes in On Liberty: Classical liberalism (also called laissez-faire liberalism[1]) is a term used to describe the following: the philosophy developed by early liberals from the Age of Enlightenment until John Stuart Mill and revived in the 20th century by Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman. ... Classical liberalism (also called laissez-faire liberalism[1]) is a term used to describe the following: the philosophy developed by early liberals from the Age of Enlightenment until John Stuart Mill and revived in the 20th century by Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman. ... John Stuart Mill (May 20, 1806 – May 8, 1873), an English philosopher and political economist, was an influential liberal and socialist thinker of the 19th century. ... On Liberty is a philosophical work in the English language by 19th century philosopher John Stuart Mill, first published in 1859. ... Sine qua non or conditio sine qua non was originally a Latin legal term for without which it could not be (but for). It refers to an indispensable and essential action, condition, or ingredient. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ...

Not only persons are not held to engagements which violate the rights of third parties, but it is sometimes considered a sufficient reason for releasing them from an engagement, that it is injurious to themselves. In this and most other civilized countries, for example, an engagement by which a person should sell himself, or allow himself to be sold, as a slave, would be null and void; neither enforced by law nor by opinion. The ground for thus limiting his power of voluntarily disposing of his own lot in life, is apparent, and is very clearly seen in this extreme case. The reason for not interfering, unless for the sake of others, with a person's voluntary acts, is consideration for his liberty. His voluntary choice is evidence that what he so chooses is desirable, or at the least endurable, to him, and his good is on the whole best provided for by allowing him to take his own means of pursuing it. But by selling himself for a slave, he abdicates his liberty; he foregoes any future use of it, beyond that single act. He therefore defeats, in his own case, the very purpose which is the justification of allowing him to dispose of himself. He is no longer free; but is thenceforth in a position which has no longer the presumption in its favor, that would be afforded by his voluntarily remaining in it. The principle of freedom cannot require that he should be free not to be free. It is not freedom, to be allowed to alienate his freedom.

Utilitarianism

William Godwin showed his extreme optimism by stating that suicide was almost always a mistake, as more pleasure is to be gained by living. As he was a utilitarian, who saw moral judgements as based on the pleasure and pain they produced, he thus thought suicide to be immoral. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... William Godwin William Godwin (3 March 1756 – 7 April 1836) was an English political and miscellaneous writer, considered one of the important precursors of both utilitarian and liberal anarchist thought. ... This glass is half full. ... Utilitarianism is a suggested theoretical framework for morality, law and politics, based on quantitative maximisation of some definition of utility for society or humanity. ...


Deontologism

Immanuel Kant, considered by many to be the father of deontologism, argues against suicide in Fundamental Principles of The Metaphysic of Morals. In accordance with the second formulation of his categorical imperative, Kant states that "He who contemplates suicide should ask himself whether his action can be consistent with the idea of humanity as an end in itself." Kant then argues that if the person chooses to commit suicide that he/she is using themselves as a mean to satisfy him/herself. But a person can not be used "merely as means, but must in all his actions be always considered as an end in himself." Therefore, it would be unethical to commit suicide to satisfy oneself. In moral philosophy, deontology is the view that morality either forbids or permits actions, which is done through moral norms. ... Immanuel Kant (22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804), was a German philosopher from Königsberg in East Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia). ... The categorical imperative is the philosophical concept central to the moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant and to modern deontological ethics. ...


Yet a criticism of this rebuke of suicide can be found in Kant's view of sexuality. The reason that sex in marriage is acceptable (and in Kant's eyes, this is the only acceptable place for it) is because there is no other person to use as a means, so it is impossible to take advantage of a non-existent person, and it is not capable to take advantage of oneself. Thus it would seem that suicide to satisfy oneself must be unacceptable to Kant on other grounds than self-satisfaction.


Existentialism

The French existentialist philosopher Camus saw the goal of existentialism in establishing whether suicide was necessary in a world without God. For Camus, suicide was the rejection of freedom. He thought that fleeing from the absurdity of reality into illusions, religion or death was not the way out. Instead of fleeing the absurd meaninglessness of life, we should embrace life passionately. Fellow existentialist Sartre described the position of Meursault the protagonist of Camus' L'Entranger, who is condemned to death in the following way: "The absurd man will not commit suicide; he wants to live, without relinquishing any of his certainty, without a future, without hope, without illusions [...] and without resignation either. He stares at death with passionate attention and this fascination liberates him. He experiences the 'divine irresponsibility' of the condemned man".[1] Existentialism is a philosophical movement that is generally considered a study that pursues meaning in existence and seeks value for the existing individual. ... Existentialism is a philosophical movement emphasizing individualism, individual freedom, and subjectivity. ... Albert Camus (pronounced ) (November 7, 1913 – January 4, 1960) was a French author and philosopher and one of the principal luminaries of absurdism. ... Existentialism is a philosophical movement that is generally considered a study that pursues meaning in existence and seeks value for the existing individual. ... An illusion is a distortion of a sensory perception. ... This article or section is not written in the formal tone expected of an encyclopedia article. ... Albert Camus (pronounced ) (November 7, 1913 – January 4, 1960) was a French author and philosopher and one of the principal luminaries of absurdism. ... Jean Paul Sartre Jean-Paul Sartre (June 21, 1905–April 15, 1980) was a French existentialist philosopher, dramatist, novelist and critic. ... Meursault is a French commune, situated in the département of the Côte-dOr and the région of Burgundy. ...


Social Contract

Social Contract, according to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, argues that every man has "a right to risk his own life in order to preserve it." Social contract theory (or contractarianism) is a concept used in philosophy, political science, and sociology to denote an implicit agreement within a state regarding the rights and responsibilities of the state and its citizens, or more generally a similar concord between a group and its members, or between individuals. ... Jean-Jacques Rousseau (June 28, 1712 – July 2, 1778) was a Geneva-born philosopher of the Enlightenment whose political ideas influenced the French Revolution, the development of socialist theory, and the growth of nationalism. ...


Hobbes and Locke, reject the right of individuals to take their own life. Hobbes claims in his Leviathan the natural law forbids every man "to do, that which is destructive of his life, or take away the means of preserving the same". Breaking this natural law is irrational and immoral. Hobbes also states that it is intuitively rational for men to want felicity and to fear death most. Hobbes redirects here. ... John Locke (August 29, 1632 – October 28, 1704) was an influential English philosopher. ... Destruction of Leviathan. 1865 engraving by Gustave Doré. Leviathan ( Twisted; coiled, Standard Hebrew Livyatan, Tiberian Hebrew ) was a Biblical sea monster referred to in the Old Testament (Psalms 74:13-14; Job 41; Isaiah 27:1). ...


Other arguments

The writer Dorothy Parker, who attempted suicide several times, wrote a famous blackly comic poem contemplating and ultimately rejecting suicide, entitled "Résumé". Dorothy Parker (August 22, 1893 – June 7, 1967) was an American writer and poet best known for her caustic wit, wisecracks, and sharp eye for 20th century Urban foibles. ... Black comedy, also known as black humour or dark comedy, is a sub-genre of comedy and satire where topics and events treated seriously – death, mass murder, sickness, madness, terror, drug abuse, rape, war etc. ...


Arguments for suicide

There are arguments in favor of allowing an individual to choose between life and suicide. This view sees suicide as a valid option.


This line rejects the thought that suicide is always or usually irrational, but is instead a solution to real problems; a line of last resort that can legitimately be taken when the alternative is considered worse. No being should be made to suffer unnecessarily, and suicide provides an escape from suffering.


Idealism

Some thinkers have had positive or at least neutral views on suicide. Some pessimist philosophers, such as Goethe and Schopenhauer, view suicide as the greatest comfort in life. Idealism is an approach to philosophical enquiry which asserts that everything is of a mental nature. ... Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. ... Arthur Schopenhauer (February 22, 1788 – September 21, 1860) was a German philosopher. ...


Herodotus wrote: "When life is so burdensome, death has become for man a sought after refuge". Schopenhauer affirmed: "They tell us that suicide is the greatest piece of cowardice... that suicide is wrong; when it is quite obvious that there is nothing in the world to which every man has a more unassailable title than to his own life and person". Bust of Herodotus at Naples Herodotus of Halicarnassus (Greek: , Herodotos) was a historian who lived in the 5th century BC (484 BC-ca. ...


Arthur Schopenhauer would be expected to take the subject seriously, due to his bleak view of life. His main work - The World as Will and Representation - constantly uses the act in its examples. He denied that suicide was immoral and saw it as one's right to take their life. In an interesting allegory, he compared ending one's life, when under great suffering, to waking up from sleep, when experiencing a terrible nightmare. However, most suicides were seen as an act of the will, as it takes place when one denies life's pains and is thus different from ascetic renunciation of the will, which denies life's pleasures. His ideas become confused when he talks about ascetic suicides; in one part, he claims that ascetic suicide can only occur through starvation, whilst, in another part, he talks of how ascetics have fed themselves to crocodiles and been buried alive. This seems somewhat contradictory - but it is clear that, all in all, Schopenhauer had a lot of sympathy for those who commit suicide. Arthur Schopenhauer (February 22, 1788 – September 21, 1860) was a German philosopher. ... The World as Will and Representation (original German title, Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung; sometimes translated as The World as Will and Idea) is the central work of Arthur Schopenhauer and one of the most important philosophical works of the 19th century. ... Will, in philosophy, refers to the conscious mental act that produces physical results. ... Arthur Schopenhauer Arthur Schopenhauer (February 22, 1788 – September 21, 1860) was a German philosopher born in Gdańsk (Danzig), Poland. ...


In the late 18th century, Goethe's Die Leiden des jungen Werthers, ("The Sorrows of Young Werther"), the romantic story of a young man who kills himself because his love proves unattainable, was reputed to have caused a wave of suicides in Germany. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. ... The Sorrows of Young Werther (German, Die Leiden des jungen Werther, originally published as Die Leiden des jungen Werthers) is a loosely autobiographical novel by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, first published in 1774. ...


Liberalism

Liberalism asserts that a person's life belongs only to him or her, and no other person has the right to force their own ideals that life must be lived. Rather, only the individual involved can make such decision, and whatever decision he or she does make, should be respected. Liberalism is an ideology, philosophical view, and political tradition which holds that liberty is the primary political value. ... Liberalism is an ideology, philosophical view, and political tradition which holds that liberty is the primary political value. ...


Philosopher and psychiatrist Thomas Szasz goes further, arguing that suicide is the most basic right of all. If freedom is self-ownership, ownership over one's own life and body, then the right to end that life is the most basic of all. If others can force you to live, you do not own yourself and belong to them. Photograph by Jeffrey A. Schaler. ...


Jean Améry, in his book On Suicide: a Discourse on Voluntary Death (originally published in German in 1976), provides a moving insight into the suicidal mind. He argues forcefully and almost romantically that suicide represents the ultimate freedom of humanity, attempting to justify the act with phrases such as "we only arrive at ourselves in a freely chosen death", lamenting the "ridiculously everyday life and its alienation". He killed himself in 1978. Jean Améry (October 21, 1912 - October, 17 1978) was an Austrian of Jewish descent. ...


Philosophical thinking in the 19th and 20th century has led, in some cases, beyond thinking in terms of pro-choice, to the point that suicide is no longer a last resort, or even something that one must justify, but something that one must justify not doing. Many forms of Existentialist thinking essentially begin with the premise that life is objectively meaningless and proceeds to the question of why one should "not just kill his or her self?". It then proceeds to answer this by suggesting the individual has the power to give personal meaning.


Neutral and Situational stands

Utilitarianism

Utilitarianism can be used as a justification or an argument against suicide. Although the death of a depressed person negates his or her sadness, the person's family and friends may grieve. The Church of Euthanasia says that people should kill themselves in order to reduce mankind's stress on the environment. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... The Chuch of Euthanasia (CoE) was started by Rev. ...


Nihilism

Nihilist thinkers reject this emphasis on the power of the individual to create meaning and acknowledge that all things are equally meaningless, including suicide. Nihilism is a philosophical position which argues that the world, and especially human existence, is without objective meaning, purpose, comprehensible truth, or essential value. ...


Other Arguments

There are some who say that suicide is acceptable under certain circumstances, such as incurable disease and old age. The idea is that although life is in general good, people who face irreversible suffering should not be forced to continue suffering.


References

  1. ^ Sartre analysis of Mersault, in Literary and Philosophical Essays, 1943

See also


  Results from FactBites:
 
Suicide - Enpsychlopedia (2124 words)
Suicide is frequently highly stigmatized, and those experiencing suicidal ideation struggle to be heard and understood.
Suicide is viewed in highly varying ways among the cultures, religions, legal and social systems of the world.
Suicidal patients in mental hospitals may be temporarily bound, placed in padded rooms, or incapacitated with drugs to limit access to means of suicide.
sociology - Suicide (7236 words)
To be considered suicide, the death must be a central component and intention of the act, not just a certain consequence; hence, suicide bombing is considered a kind of bombing rather than a kind of suicide, and martyrdom usually escapes religious or legal proscription.
Suicide is more common among alcoholics, especially after loss of intimate relationships, such as the death of a spouse, divorce, loss of a friend and parental alienation.
Ulrike Meinhof wrote that "suicide is the ultimate form of protest." In this she saw suicide as a political act, as a last resort to preserve one's sovereignty over one's body and life.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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