Suicide is not such a bad thing

10 September is “World Suicide Prevention Day”. Well, at least it is safe to assume that this day was not dreamt up by the greeting cards industry, for once. Yet the question that first hit me when I heard about this day remains: Suicide Prevention Day? What for? Why would we want to prevent suicide?

I won’t argue that we should have a “World Suicide Day” or that suicide should be actively encouraged, but I do believe that the stigma of failure and despair has to be removed from suicide and from people who choose this option.

– The comment that appalls me most after people have learnt of someone’s suicide is “How could he do that to us?” First of all, every person’s mind and heart are full of secrets, so any judgement should be withheld unless that person discloses his motives. Second, nobody has an obligation to live. As nobody asked us if we wanted to be born, we don’t even have an obligation towards our parents, let alone friends, colleagues or society. The only people that could argue that somebody contemplating suicide should have to think about them, are his children because after all one is responsible for having put them in this world. I would argue that such a responsibility in the strictest sense however does not even exist towards a partner; because surely any relationship can be terminated by leaving and what else is suicide than a very unambiguous goodbye?

– A suicide is far too easily associated with failure, interpreted as an act of giving up. But many different reasons can be fathomed: A sense of having had a rich life with experiences that cannot be topped, curiosity about the act and a possible afterlife (something which should endear suicide to religious people especially), an exaggerated sense for adventure, or even to make a certain point.

But my main question is this: How can anybody associate suicide with failure unless he can explain what the meaning of life is? As long as there is no convincing argument about the meaning of life, leaving this life is no worse of an option than staying.

– A suicide also looks much less negative or frightening when we keep in mind that we are all going to die. No exception. Some of us will die in sleep and we don’t even know if that is as peaceful as it is usually denoted, but others of us will have a terrible disease or will be hit by a truck and bleed to death, while others might drown or step on a landmine, burn in a fire or starve.

Please excuse the drama, but are you beginning to see that choosing one’s time, place and manner of death might be quite a sensible wish after all?

– And if the social stigma of suicide was somehow removed or at least reduced, it could be done in an even more peaceful and controlled manner because then people might not feel the need to resort to jumping in front of a train or blowing up their kitchen.

– This leads us to the legal status of suicide because the whole affair would be much cleaner and less disruptive if it was legal to assist people in implementing their wish to end their life at their own choosing. I find it especially unfair and unethical that sick people are in many countries not allowed to use any assistance of this kind, while a healthy person can just grab a gun and shoot himself. This puts old and frail and sick people (whom the law purports to protect) at a significant disadvantage versus a young and healthy person.

– Suicide is the one decision in life that you can be certain you won’t regret afterward. This can not be said about many things in life.

When I hear of somebody’s suicide, my first reaction is one of admiration. To admire their courage (because logical as it may be, it’s not easy) and the determination to make the ultimate decision in life oneself. We are arguing for so many personal freedoms; why should we exclude this ultimate freedom, the exercise of which harms no one else’s rights?

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a journalist, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Death, Law, Life, Philosophy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

132 Responses to Suicide is not such a bad thing

  1. raisingable says:

    Admiration?
    to feel so alone, depressed, distressed and unable to reach out for help?

    • J says:

      As Andreas pointed out, you can’t know for sure that all suicidal people are feeling the emotions you mentioned. There are other possible reasons for committing suicide. And even if they are feeling those emotions, I think admiration is appropriate. Because it does take guts to take your own life. It doesn’t mean we can’t feel bad them too, as well as offer help if they have a mental or physical problem that’s curable. The bottom line is, their choice should be respected since it’s their life. I think everyone probably has a breaking point, even the people who swear they would never take their own life under any circumstances.

  2. Dave rush says:

    Smart and outside the box: an example to the box and us in it

  3. Having known someone who committed suicide, I can say that it is the LEAST admirable thing I have ever known anyone to do. It is the most selfish thing I have ever seen done, honestly, and those who commit suicide should not be commended. They should be mourned and grieved, but a ton of emotions come up around this issue. I hate the person I know who committed suicide. I HATE him for screwing things up for my family. They say time heals all things, but this is something that seven years has not healed, and I don’t believe the pain of having a relative kill himself will ever heal.

    • Emily says:

      I understand your pain, but the person that attempts/succeeds at suicide isn’t thinking of it for selfish reasons. In fact, many times they truly feel like that they are doing what is best for their family and friends. Seriously, they think that the family and friends are better off without them, for whatever reason.

      I’m sorry for your loss.

    • Dremora says:

      I perceive your attitude to be one of extreme selfishness, not the act of the person you “lost” (i.e. who decided to no longer interact with you).

      Your emotions are your own responsibility, no one else is responsible for them. You don’t own other people. It is precisely your callous selfish attitude that literally tortures thousands of people against their explicit will for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

      Emily wrote: “I’m sorry for your loss.”

      I’m not. A person opted out of their relationship with you SEVEN YEARS ago. You still harbor resentment.

      If your girlfriend breaks up with you, should you have the right to torture them? Would we still see you whining SEVEN YEARS later, whining that you can’t own other people and their lives without consent?

      • adam Thomas says:

        Couldnt have said it better myself dremora. My thoughts exactly

    • gaurav says:

      you are being selfish, I am currently contemplating suicide but not because I have failed, or at least failure is not the primary reason, i have realised the futility of life and i am holding back as yet only because i wish to explore some more, i am 36 and will leave when i am done exploring life to my hearts content, why be a liability all your life, there is no reason to criticise those who have left, they did it for a reason and those reasons will always be valid no matter how you feel

    • Music says:

      I don’t know the exact circumstances of your relative for committing suicide but I know i have wanted to end my life, and some people who contemplate or end up committing suicide are probably suffering the pain of your whole family combined!!! We have been suffering this for years,

      It is true that if some of us opened up and told our closest all our secrets perhaps we would not have to committ suicide, so a lack of clear communication could prevent a loss of a life! Nevertheless there are other people who if they revealed their secrets would be vilified!

      The world is a very MEAN place, if you can assure me that you could have held your relative’s suffering and pain and make it better! Then I am truly sorry for your loss!

      I really hope your relative is in a better place and that they have finally found peace.

    • lola says:

      I noticed all of that comment was about you. Did you ever think how he felt? That hatred you feel for him, try that times 10 and add depression and you maybe have something close to what he was proble feeling. Did you expect him to just put a smile on while he was experiencing a living he’ll so he wouldn’t inconvenience your life. If you really read what you wrote, you’re the selfish one…poor thing you we’re inconvenienced by all his pain and suffering.

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  5. Kim says:

    I guess often enough suicide is induced my mental health problems. I really don’t have any statistics and I think it’ll be hard to come up with some, but how many people who have comitted suicide do you think were completely sane at the time? How many people live a happy life after having been prevented to kill theirselves? I can agree with your position if you can prove that every suicide is a completely rational decision – and I really doubt that assumption.

    • Sean says:

      Considering the fact that so many mental health problems are chronic and incurable, moreover, considering that many of the so-called treatments for such are a poor palative at best, I regretfully fail to see how this is an example of suicide being a negative.

      Think about it this way; you have a person with Borderline Personality Disorder, comorbid with Chronic Depression and Anhedonia. For the uninitiated, this is what all that mumbo-jumbo means; there is no pleasure in life. Even sex provides NO ENJOYMENT. Worse still, every moment is a chance to trip over a very potent memory of past pain like a landmine. A sound, a smell, much like PTSD, you relive the moment time and again like a bad movie you can’t stop with equal potency years after the event. Every day is a struggle to really justify the ‘why’ of living.

      Doubtless will come the parade of people who advocate treatment. Really? Stop any think about this for a moment. A person who struggles just to function, who experiences no pleasure in life is highly unlikely to achieve the kind of financial success required in order to seek anything close to effective psychological health. Meds are frankly not very effective especially since the laundry list of side effects normally associated with the vast majority of ‘anti-depressents’ only tend to exacerbate a sense of ‘unreality’, an already pale life drains just a little more color. Granted, sometimes psychotherapy can help. But without the ability to afford it, being harped at about ‘getting help’ is just a short-stroke to nowhere.

      Suicide is a choice. What good is struggling against a constant, unrelenting, and in a lot of ways, wholly incurable apathy if in the end you still feel nothing but loss? If there is no joy in life, there is no life. If there is no hope in life, there is no point. Disagree if you will, but unless you deal with a ‘mental health problem’ from sunrise to sunset, you simply don’t have a damned clue, and your opinion is worthless.

      • Paul says:

        For the uninitiated, this is what all that mumbo jumbo means:, “You are wrong, here is a hypothetical person I created entirely so they would have maximum reason to commit suicide, therefore you are worthless”

        You know what, I’m pro-euthanasia. I think it’s a person’s choice to end their life if they do indeed have a disability that reduces their quality of life. This includes mental illness. So I agree in theory, but there’s a massive pile of dishonesty and bullshit in what you just did there.

    • Don Joe says:

      No decision is a completely rational decision. There’s always an element of subjectivity, of preferring one future to other futures based on criteria you can’t explain (i.e. derive from anything else). In the case of suicide, I’m willing to bet a year’s income that in most cases it’s a decision made in the context of depression, by a brain that’s very low in serotonin, which makes fundamental (pre-rational) preferences all biased toward negativity.

  6. John says:

    Many good points that I had never thought of. Why do we espouse freedoms, but look to deny them in life’s ultimate decision?

    @Doostane Farsi Zabane Man: I feel compassion for your family’s pain, but as Andreas Moser points out in the above commentary: Why does the person who is leaving have an obligation to those left behind?

  7. Jonathan Simons says:

    Very interesting article. Definitely outside the box, and I sincerely appreciate that. If I could offer one bit of advice, you mention many different points with little definition or elaboration. I mean this not to tear down, but to offer constructive criticism. Fewer points and more focus would have helped this thought.

    A lot of your points are valid and true in some cases. However, those cases are the minority and in most cases, the minority within the minority (An example: People who take their life because they’ve “completed” or are “fulfilled” in life).

    If you browse and simply skim any suicide fact sheet, you’ll come to realize that the people who take their life struggle with depression, loneliness, sadness, and despair. This isn’t a made up “hey, let’s cast a bad light on these people”, it’s fact based on what research and studies are there on suicide.

    Suicide is preventable and my heart breaks when anyone chooses to take their own life because of despair or depression. I think some of your points would be valid in a euthanasia discussion, but not in a discussion on suicide.

    “Over 60 percent of people who die by suicide are estimated to suffer from major
    depression, with no other psychiatric or physical illness. Thirty percent have
    alcoholism, and half of those with alcoholism have depression as well.”

    “Seventy percent of youth who make a suicide attempt are frequent users of
    alcohol and/or other drugs. In states where the minimum drinking age was raised
    from 18 to 21, the suicide rate for 18-to-20 year olds decreased.”

    http://www.afsp.org/files/College_Film//factsheets.pdf

    • Kris Hughes says:

      Sure suicide is preventable. When political prisoners go on a hunger strike, and they are force fed, their death is being prevented. I don’t believe that this is right, though. Recently, a young man in my community shot himself over a failed love affair. I don’t know his whole story, but I tend to think that might have been a suicide worth preventing – if – (and it’s an important if) that was really the reason for the suicide. Young men do get over failed love affairs, after all.

      But if someone is suffering long-term depression, if their life has felt like a dead end for a very long time and now they are also homeless, if their condition of chronic mental pain has tired them out, then why try to prevent them saying “I’m done here”. Why is it considered so important to find a way to stick a band-aid on this person so that they go on living. If their suicide makes their friends and family feel bad, I can’t help but wonder – worse than they felt because the tried every day to help this person and were unable to? or just bad because helping that person was too much trouble? or do they just lack the ability to see that the person is, at least, no longer unhappy now?

      What I think needs to be prevented is that people experiencing long-term mental pain often have to kill themselves in squalid, guilt-ridden, furtive circumstances because of society’s attitudes.

  8. Concerned says:

    Celebrating or respecting the suicide decision isn’t a new idea, but its one I can appreciate. No one can EVER truly understand the level of depression and pain that some people have gone through and the desire those people have to be rid of it. The problem with suicide is that it is so final, while the human mind is constantly changing. Usually, somewhere inside, the suicidal person does not actually want to commit suicide. Most suicide survivor stories that I have read claim that at the moment where it is “too late” the suicidal person immediately regrets their decision. Jonathan makes a good point about the cases you’ve cited being a minority within a minority.

    @Emily: Just because someone thinks they’re doing the right thing, that doesn’t in itself mean they should be allowed to do it. An act is not unselfish just because the person is doing it for what they think are good reasons.

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  11. Irena says:

    Andreas, I love your out-of-the-box-thinking :)

    I do agree with almost everything you say, especially: “But my main question is this: How can anybody associate suicide with failure unless he can explain what the meaning of life is? As long as there is no convincing argument about the meaning of life, leaving this life is not worse of an option than staying.”
    BUT, I definitely disagree with the last part about admiring someone who commits suicide. How can you admire someone who chooses to end their life? Courageous people? To me, they are more like chicken, running away from life, responsibilities, challenges, etc. With that said, these people can’t be mentally stable at that time, which is why I also believe that suicide is preventable… if the signs are recognized in time. Some people just can’t get over depressions by them selves and need help from others. Unfortunately, we often hear about mentally ill people seeking professional help, getting rejected and committing suicide afterwards. These are the cases that can and SHOULD be prevented.

    PS. We are happy to hear that you’re not contemplating the idea of suicide, because we’d miss you and your blogs :D

    • Samantha says:

      I think it is quite callous to call someone who commits suicide “chicken.” It is indeed an act of bravery to be able to carry out the act of taking one’s own life. It goes against every natural instinct a person has, so yes it DOES take courage to actually go through with it. Comments like this truly make me angry, and they really speak to Andreas’ point that people on the outside looking in are really in no position to judge someone who commits suicide. Based on your narrow-minded post, you seem to have missed his point entirely.

    • Music says:

      I concurr with Samatha, committing suicide is courageous!! And unfortunately we are NOT all mean to be happy and this world is unfair, and some people suffer a constant hight level of excruciating emotional (+/physical) pain more so than the average person!

      I have contemplated commiting suicide, and the only reason I am still here today is that, at one point, I thought what if I go into an afterlife which is even more difficult than the life I am being subjected to RIGHT NOW!!!!

      So I am ONLY here today because I thought I would try and survive the pain I am going through and make the best of the worst!!!

      Thank you to the blogger for thinking out of the box!

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  14. c says:

    What about the suicide of a 20 year old after a breakup?! Surely, they would have met someone else, had they stuck around.

    • Selena Perez says:

      Dear Andreas,

      You remind me of that chap in “Into the Wild”. I wouldn’t be surprised if you killed yourself alone somewhere one day in the not so distant future. The reason you advocate suicide is because no one actually loves you dearly in the same way you love them back.

      You probably have not been in love or with a girl for a long time. I bet you have very few real “friends”, just a number of acquiantances, and live this solitary life with only this blog as some connection to the rest of the world, to make you feel part of it.

      For someone who wants to be so alone, why do you insist on advertising your activities on this blog? It is a a contradiction. I think this blog is your only friend, which is in a sense yourself.

      I bet you kiss badly. You have a skewed way of thinking. You run at any commitment. Because somehow you think the greatest value is to do “what you want, without contrainst”. This in turn means no one, no girl, no family, nothing will make you commit or want to be around anything that reeks of even n a slight give and take/reliance on each other.

      Soon you will find the error in your ways. Or you won’t and just kill yourself.

      • It’s funny that you mention “Into the Wild” because I wrote a positive review about Chris McCandless: https://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2011/03/26/into-the-wild/

      • Selena Perez says:

        Oh you did a review of Into the Wild already. I guess I should have studied your blog in more detailed before I wrote this.

        Into the Wild. How typical of you. It’s nice that you don’t like people. You come across as a very rare, very very toxic form of human being. Incapable of love, commitment, emotion. Only able to deal with things conceptually and made of 100% pure selfishness.

        Deeply unhappy but in denial of this through frequent gazing at Nature (a skill I admit most humans don’t have and are lacking, but your one saving grace in this world given lack of above, and this blog which probably makes you feel a connection to other “people” out there who care about what you do that you can “educate” or impose your own will and thought out values).

      • ponderwall says:

        Wow. Really?

      • J says:

        Selena Perez,

        You have a lot of nerve making all those assumptions about Andreas, many of which you’re probably wrong about. You wrote that Andreas comes across as a very toxic human being. I actually think he comes across as very thoughtful and open minded. You’re the one who comes across as toxic and narrow minded. You insulted him continually, and he didn’t insult you at all in his response. You honestly can’t think of a good reason that suicide actually might be appropriate in certain situations? If that’s the case then I don’t think you’ve given it much thought. How would you feel if you couldn’t walk or have sex for the rest of your life? Because that’s what a disease like MS can do to you. How about slowly losing your ability to talk and breath until you die? That’s what ALS can do to you. Or maybe being completely paralyzed due to an accident or disease when you’re in the prime of your life? There of course are countless other possibilities. Now because you’re a human being, I hope nothing like that ever happens to you. But if it does then maybe you’ll finally understand.

      • Samantha says:

        Wow Selena. You come across as an absolutely loathsome human being! If you think so badly of Andreas, then why on Earth do you read his blog? You’ve obviously read more than just this one article to feel justified enough to post such ignorant assumptions. And he never said one negative word back to you in response for your hateful tirade, yet you have the nerve to call him toxic? You seem truly unbalanced!

      • Anonymous says:

        I do not know about Andreas, but what Selena wrote describes me. Shame I only realised it when it was too late.

      • I am not sure it’s too late. There is always room to change something in our lives.

  15. Tom Parsons says:

    How remarkable to read a blog advocating a well-argued position that I myself have maintained for probably more years than its author is old – and then to find that I also agree with 90% of the counterarguments. Very refreshing, and I think I’ll just go on another day and see if there are any more surprises.

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  17. Sebastian says:

    Wow! Thankyou so much for giving one of the very rare open-minded views of suicide! I hope that like the rights of women, black people, homosexuals etc. have gradually developed, so too will the rights of those who make a conscious decision to die. May their wishes be treated with respect!

  18. suicideisme says:

    <3 …mindful words. Thanks Mr, Moser.

  19. Elena says:

    Provocative idea – always encourages debate and a lot of reactions…

  20. steve julian says:

    Thank you for the post. I do agree that suicide is indeed a courageous act. For sure. I don’t agree that it is an isolated act. We are connected regardless. And yes it is a choice and everyone should have the right to chose. But remember we are communal. Everything we are is communal. So suicide might be your right, but does that make it right, or an act that should be applauded? End of life decisions for those that have no chance of quality of life is a different animal. Read about attempted suicides and how the person is looking at suicide now. Do you think they would have regrets? I think suicide is done for many reasons, one being the person wants to end the pain or harm that they are causing to others. Would they still consider suicide knowing that the act causes even more pain then by having them around? Hope that made sense.

  21. Sumaira says:

    I may commit suicide in couple of hours …reasons ….i can’t express my feelings to anyone ..nobody loves me , nobody even bother i am alive so i am hoping that they dont bother my death as well

    • J says:

      Hi Sumaira. I’m sorry for your pain, but I understand where you’re coming from. I can think of a number of situations where suicide would be appropriate. But if you don’t have an incurable mental or physical problem that’s unbearable, then I hope you reconsider. Good luck.

  22. sparksmcgee says:

    To admire, rather than feel compassion for a person who feels so alone and sad that death is viewed as relief, seems misguided. But what is far, far more misguided is to applaud suicide in the comment section of a depressed person who has bravely decided to keep fighting for his life for the sake of his future self and for all the people he cares about. That was poorly done. You have demonstrated selfish, boasting, self-aggrandizing, thoughtless, cruel behavior and I hope you have the good sense to think better of it some day. That is one of the most selfish and inconsiderate things I’ve seen in a good long time.

    • J says:

      I don’t see why one can’t feel compassion as well as admiration for suicidal people. And as far as I can tell, Andreas didn’t say anything about not feeling compassion. I say offer help to the people if they’re willing to accept it. If not then respect their decision, because you yourself might be in their position sometime. And if you think you’re not capable of committing suicide under any cirumstances, then I think you’re wrong. It’s easy to say you’d never do it if you haven’t experienced some of the horrible things that have happened to some people. As for your questioning of death being relief, I don’t know how anyone could argue that it isn’t relief. I’m guessing there’s either nothing after this life or there’s something good, so that seems like relief to me. I’m not sure what you’re referring to with the “comment section of a depressed person,” so I won’t comment on that.

      • sparksmcgee says:

        Hi J! That last bit was actually my main/only point. There was a comment and a link back to this article that was (as I felt) really poorly chosen. It was directed at a person who has fought *hard* with suicidal feelings, and made the extremely difficult decision to keep fighting, and to win, both for the sake of the people who love him, and for the sake of his future self who will probably make it to a happier frame of mind. I would never say that ending one’s life couldn’t feel like a relief, or that I myself could never be brought to that point in certain circumstances. That’s exactly why I was so upset. Suicide is a one-time, final decision and as such, can be pretty attractive in a certain state of mind. The captioned link that the author provided seemed to suggest that his own point of view was more important than this individual’s hard-won decision and his continuing human life. Regardless of intent, he wasn’t counselling a person who wanted to kill himself, he was playing with the mind of someone who had decided to NOT want to.

    • J says:

      Hi, thanks for the nice response. I can understand where you’re coming from the more you explain that. It’s a difficult subject, and you seem like a really thoughtful person. And it looks like you have a neat blog too. :) Take care.

  23. I think our lives belong to no one but us and how we choose to live or end it is our choice. You’re not always going to agree with the way everyone chooses to live their lives. But that’s the way the world works. People get angry at those that commit suicide not because of what they did necessarily, but because they left this earthly plain without their permission. If the person had died instead of an illness or in a terrible accident, would you be angry at them for having died? Think about it. If a person is sick and you know they’re going to die from this illness, you get to the point where you accept their impending death so that when they finally die, while it’s a very sad thing, it’s not something to make you hate them for having died. You knew they were going to die and you let them go as best you could. If it’s because of an accident, while its not necessarily with your permission that they died, it was an accident. No one saw it coming. But suicide is a planned thing. And the only person that plans it it the person that wants to die. And it’s really their choice and their choice alone whether to do it or not. It’s their life, after all, and if they feel so sad that continuing to live doesn’t feel worth that pain, then who is anyone to get angry and hate them for ending that own pain?

    I’ve been there. Am currently there, actually. A place where life really feels awful and, if you must know, it’s because of a broken heart. It’s more complicated than just that, but I won’t get into it here. All I’m saying is that to call suicide wrong and to hate the person for doing it isn’t the answer. Hate the reasons why they felt so sad. Don’t hate the person for not being able to “handle it” because not everyone can, and if you can, kudos to you, but not everyone is you.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree. My life, my thoughts, my decision to end my life. No on person knows what it is like, for me. I feel so alone, and hopeless. I’m sure I will end my life before the summer is over. I just hope that my family will understand, and know what I have to
      do for me. That my life is not worth living, like this.

  24. Gail says:

    Hello Andreas – 2 real life scenarios for you:

    My son tried to commit suicide at the age of 16. He was suffering from severe depression, had been self-medicating with alcohol and drugs and had just found out that his girlfriend had left him. He swallowed a lot of pills and waited to die. Luckily, he told me about it before his body was permanently damaged. He is now 20 years old, has a healthy relationship and is happy – no longer medicated for depression and doing very well.

    My ex-husband tried to commit suicide 6 months after my son. He had struggled with depression his entire life. I had told him a few weeks earlier that I was divorcing him. I found him on the floor and had to call the ambulance the same day that my son, still fragile, was starting his first day at a new school. He also survived and though he still deals with his depression, he is currently working and still fighting depression and other illness, both mental and physical.

    I give you these two scenarios to say that although suicide can be a well thought out response to terrible circumstances, it is often the result of a passing feeling of despair. Depression makes you feel as though you don’t want to live and yet, if treated, the drive to be alive, comes back. Do we want people in the midst of depression to make a decision that they can’t take back?

    My ex-husband may ultimately succeed in a suicide attempt – he is in his 60’s and I believe that he has tried very hard to combat his mental illness. At some point, I believe that he may make the decision that he no longer wants to fight. At that point, I hope that he can make peace with himself and those around him and end his live easily. The first attempt was a reaction to circumstances that he could overcome. He acted selfishly – he left angry notes, he chose a day that was important to his son and he chose a time that would be incredibly hurtful to all involved.

    If my son had succeeded because he too was acting impulsively, he would not be here today happily living his life.

    There is a place for suicide. However, just saying that people have the power over their own bodies is reckless and irresponsible. Mental illness is real and can be treated. Before we applaud those who commit suicide as brave, first we must give them all the help they need to make an informed decision and ensure that their death is not a reaction to temporary circumstances.

  25. An excellent book on suicide, by an author with first-hand experience with suicide and major depression, is “The Noonday Demon.”
    In this book is the story of a man who tried to kill himself because he was having significant financial problems and thought his wife would be better off without him. He left her a message which she found in time to call authorities and stop him. While in the hospital, sharing his story with the author, the man was HORRIFIED that he had tried to kill himself and was bewildered by how logical the act had seemed just a few days ago. He realized he didn’t want to die but somehow his brain tricked him into thinking it was the best thing to do. He was also terrified because he knew he could not be sure that he would never experience that delusion again.
    The point of this story is many people who commit suicide are mentally ill or unstable and cannot think rationally or logically. They think they can but they can’t. Many people who have survived suicide attempts often speak of their realization at the last moment that their problems were fixable and they wanted to live.
    Don’t admire suicides. Don’t demonize them either. Recognize it as an illness that must be treated.
    And just to be really clear, I support the right of those suffering debilitating, painful, incurable illnesses to end their suffering. That is a different experience and reasoning for wanting to die.

  26. michael says:

    A very complex and multifaceted issue – BUT:
    In regard to the rash of veteran/military suicides, many, but not all, are anger directed inward. There was/is great potential for homicide as well as, or in addition to, suicide. In those cases we are all better off when the decision is made to go alone.

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  28. Daniel Strawford says:

    I have always thought suicide to be an interesting topic. To me, if you find no enjoyment out of life then there is really no point living. We all have ups and downs and one person’s up is never the same as another person’s up as how would we know that? So the same must be conclusive of the downs. I have had depression that I would have rated severe and I began to think that that life is simply pointless as you don’t enjoy any significant event, even if you somehow won the lottery and married the girl of your ‘dreams’, it would make no difference. The act of suicide is insanely selfish but then again why is that a bad thing? Grieving for someone in my eyes is a selfish thing, as I think most sad emotions come from a selfish place. ‘He left me… I’m alone…’ ‘I’ll never see him or her again…’, ‘It is ruining my family…’ ‘Look at the inconvenience it has caused on other people… and I am outraged by this, because it is affecting me.’ Don’t get me wrong I empathise with both ends of the story.

    What I’m more interested in discussing is suicide in art. This seems to be one of the few areas where suicide seems to be romanticised… i.e. Ian Curtis, Kurt Cobain, Richey Edwards not to mention countless other slow motion suicide through drugs. Anyone Else got any thoughts on this?

    Forgive me, I’m not as articulate as the posters above me.

  29. Kavita Joshi says:

    I totally agree with the point that we do not have any reason to be obliged to live ..and I think that is true as life is a journey and each one of us do have a right to end it soon if we are not really interested to continue in it..but as you said life is not defined yet so I wouldn’t call it a ultimate decision either and can’t think of it as an ultimate freedom ..may be from this body and Earth for a while…but I would say that its like ending the journey. I think we should respect every one who is dying no matter how, as the one who decide to end this journey of life also were part of our world in direct or indirect way and they decided to die for some reason…and we can’t descriminate with soul really and once you die its all good or neutral ..nothing bad is left once the person is dead as all evil is left here..nice post and thought provoking topic Andreas..m back from Cairns alive and sore :)

  30. Isthisnameok says:

    Amazing post. This really shows the other side of the coin.

  31. As a sister of a young man that committed suicide, I feel I can at least speak about my own experience as a family member that misses her brother. There was so much pain in his life for such a long time that it clouded everything, some of that pain came from poor choices he made to alleviate the pain that was generational and hereditary. When he was here, hurting, he was constantly hurting the ones he loved and loved him. His suicide was a brutal cut, but it was at least quick and clean. Even though I was shocked and saddened by the way he departed this life, I was also very relieved that he was no longer in pain. I think the most selfish thing a person can do is to think that their own pain is the most important thing in the world and live accordingly, hurting all of the people who love them in countless ways. Suicide is at least a decision that others can grapple with, live with,mourn, and then move on. Now, twelve years later, we get to try and remember the snapshots of good times even if at times we still struggle with the loss of a brother.

  32. Having been down the road of seriously considering suicide I can see this line of thought. I also see the self absorbed misery of many suicidal people. What it does to the people around you that care is unconsionable. I have lost track of the number of people I know that chose to check out early for whatever reason. I also know that the decision is irrevocable. It is devastating to family and friends that you have singularly decided that you are done here and that is all there is to it. Suicide is a bad thing no matter how you try to frame it. It is bad for all those around you that care about you and the people that love you. Nobody should have to deal with that type of loss. It is never “just YOUR life”. It is the life of the community around you. It is the ultimate selfish decision. You have an obligation to care more for your friends, family, and the community as a whole than you do to be the coward and quit. Trying to make logic out of an illogical decision is the work of a sick mind.

    • Samantha says:

      So it is selfish for someone to choose to end his/her own life, but it’s not selfish for the people in that person’s life to insist that they keep on living no matter how much pain they may be in? I’ve never understood that kind of thinking. I get so sick of hearing people who commit suicide being called selfish and a coward. No matter how close you may be to that person, you do NOT know everything that they feel nor everything that they have gone through.

      Why is it ok for you to expect that person to keep living day after day, year after year, no matter how painful it is for them? Just keep living, just keep breathing no matter what, just because you don’t want to deal with the effect that their suicide may have on you. Now THAT’S selfish! People want others to cling so desperately to life, as if any person’s life will last forever. Whether I choose to end my life today, or go out and accidentally get hit by a truck next week, or live another 50 years and die one night in my sleep, the bottom line is I’m going to die one day. And some people will be affected by my death no matter when or how it happens. This is true for every human being. We’re all going to die and the majority of us will leave at least one person behind who wishes we weren’t dead. But suicide is the only manner of death that seems to provoke such rage in some people.

      Despite what you think, yes it is that individual’s life and they can do with it whatever they like, including end it. As Andreas mentioned, the only qualifier I would have for that is people who have children that are dependent on them. I believe that no one asks to be born, so if you create children then you should care for them. But outside of that, a person should be allowed to end their life without being called a selfish coward by people like you.

    • Zara says:

      Are you by any chance a preacher because this sure sounds like a sermon, with just about the same amount of argumentation and justification: zero or basically ‘because I say so’ (non-existent authority). Any death is a tragedy but what is especially tragic about suicide is that society makes it out to be a shameful act and forces people to be secretive about it because it is de facto forbidden (it’s no longer illegal, de jure, to commit suicide surely but you will get dragged off to a mental hospital for attempting, preparing or even thinking about it and being stupid enough to voice these thoughts to a goodie-two-shoes), if the right to a freely chosen death would be truly lawful and it would be illegal to try to stop you (bar risk to others or public disturbance) then people could talk it over with their loved-ones (without fear of betrayal and immoral use-of-force), reason with them and say goodbye so the devastation wouldn’t be so great.

      People don’t usually end their lives for trivial reasons and a lot of unamendable pain and suffering must have preceded such a difficult decision so who are you, or anybody, to judge them? I very much doubt the sincerity or depth of your alleged acquaitance with being suicidal since anybody who has truly been in that kind of pain wouldn’t be so quick to judge or so vulgar and offensive in their articulation of it. To call suicide cowardly is stupid: the fear of death is generally thought to be the greatest fear any living being (let alone one with such a highly developed brain) can experience so how can conquering this fear ever be considered cowardly? The great historian Tacitus wrote: “Valour is the contempt of pain and death”. Suicide involves at least one of these and usually both. Wanting to save oneself extreme pain and suffering is not selfish but human and to demand such a grave sacrifice (expecting others to live no matter what the consequences to them) from anyone is only justified if you can garantee an effective cure or at least ease their pain significantly, otherwise it’s downright cruelty and selfishness on your part.

      “You have an obligation to care more for your friends, family, and the community as a whole…” Says who? This is an unsubstantiated value-judgement and I for one strongly disagree with it: sure one doesn’t live alone and loyalty, kindness and respect towards others are appropriate attitudes but why would one have the moral obligation to sacrifice oneself for others? One can easily reverse the question: how could it be moral to expect someone else to suffer so you don’t have to? Isn’t that the ultimate form of selfishness? As far as I’m concerned one’s obligations towards others go as far as making sure there isn’t a feasible alternative to suicide but if there isn’t it’s your decision and yours alone whether or not to continue and for how long. Your term ‘sick mind’ is quite laughable since it’s not clear what would constitute a healthy mind and it’s a mere insult thinly veiled as a supposed statement-of-fact: insults do no equal sound arguments. In fact it’s an instance of the ad hominem fallacy. You’re obviously not very well placed to pronounce judgement on logic if you cannot avoid common fallacies in your own discours.

      Even the much quoted statistic that the great majority of those who died by suicide are supposedly mentally ill is quite meaningless since there’s no test that could be done post-mortem to determine the presence of such an illness but then again there’s no real test for it when people are alive (psychological tests are nothing more than subjective interpretations of how well or poorly one corresponds to certain socio-cultural norms – which are by their nature unprovable just like religious or aesthetic statements- so it’s obvious there’s nothing objective or factual about them: a lab test on the other hand can reveal the presence of cancer or an infection in the body but never of depression or any other mental disorder for that matter) so how on earth could they state their number is derived from empirical research? Sounds more like propaganda than bona fide science to me but even if it was all objective and demonstrable what does it matter if a great number of people simply cannot be cured or even properly helped (effective pain-relief) by their medications and therapies? If psychiatry could actually gain a clear understanding of these supposed illnesses they (or maybe those in the neurosciences and psychofarmacology) could begin to develop actual evidence-based treatments and people would be all too happy to go to a shrink to get their problem fixed, I’m fairly sure (almost) nobody likes to suffer needlessly.

    • Pauline says:

      I am NOT advocating suicide. I just think a couple truths have to be confronted on the issue.

      First, the ramifications of suicide have to be understood realistically. When someone commits suicide, the world does not end. The only thing that could matter as far as ramifications go would be that it distresses other living people. Of the people alive, the vast majority will not know the suicide was committed; of the people who know it was committed, the vast majority will not care; of the people that care, the vast majority will get on with life. They will put on the appropriate sad face and partake in the appropriate doxic ceremonies, say it’s a shame, they no doubt would have regretted the decision now, how horrible to lose such a wonderful person, etc. etc. But their actions belie the crocodile tears – their life doesn’t even hit a speedbump, and on we go. That leaves the few people who will be devastated by the suicide. That’s still a rather serious consideration, of course, but it varies from person to person: some people have no one who will be devastated if they died, and if I were to bullshit an average number, it seems to me that most people couldn’t have more than 10, if that. That’s plenty enough to stop someone from killing themselves, but, but, but, it may not be. Suicide is simply not the world-ending event it’s often made out to be.

      Second, you have to look at what it is you’re actually giving up. Life – but life is many things to many people. To some, the idea of not wanting to live is so instinctually repugnant that they literally cannot understand suicide. I do not think that is hyperbole; I think they literally are incapable of grasping it.

      What is life, and why is it valuable? Personally, I’m of the opinion that life isn’t great. That may be, and hopefully is, just an empirical contingency, and in some way, at some time, in a distant universe, there may one day be life that is great, that is worth living. However, that’s not the life we have now, so our only option is to cope with what we have. Ending life is one way of coping – not one that could be universally recommendable, but also not one that I can find a reason to condemn outright. Who am I to judge, or blame? Only the sheltered could do so ingenuously.

  33. SB says:

    Life is a joke. The tragedy is that people feel the need to take such a radical move. If you’ve never felt suicidal, thank your lucky stars, you don’t choose suicide, it chooses you.

  34. Nathanael Lafferty says:

    As we speak in sitting in the bathroom thinking of what to do with my life.. All I have done was a temporary fix or a “good decision” in attempts of bettering myself for the sake of my kids.. Today is my 28th birthday and even though I’m surrounded by family I STILL had to buy supper from McDonalds. Of all places.. My birthday is ruined by her.. Again.. Just like every day . God.. She’s not the problem.. Its this fucked up society where anyone who gives a fuck loses but the rich kid down the block lives a happy life..fuck this. Peace. I’m out

  35. RoofSalmon says:

    I don’t think that article is “outside the box” why?
    Well you may be giving “good” reasons to kill yourself. Those are still reasons. And reasons/facts are part of life and I believe suicidal must be really disconnected from life.
    It’s like saying: fine, I know the end, let’s stop there.
    An egocentric move in my opinion.
    As living beeing we have the chance to think twice. Some will think of it as a curse. I believe its a real chance.

    I always contemplated suicide like someone both locking himself/herself in his/her mind and swallowing the key.

    We are surrounded by people trying to make life a better environement to live in. Researches are always trying to go further.

  36. RoofSalmon says:

    I’d rather die naturally/from a disease and leave my body to science to help mankind than leaving my body hanging in a room almost screaming “ah, the reason of my suicide is stuck in a mind you no longer have an access too”

    Thats the only thing that come to my mind when I think about people who committed it.

  37. Steve says:

    I think people who commit sucide are cowards and the world is better without them. Anyone who is stupid, pathetic, weak and selfish enough to commit sucide deserves to die. It is better that these people not have children. Same goes for people with depression, like come on are you so pathetic that you need to claim to have a bs ilness and use it as a crutch to explain all your falts

    • Mark says:

      You, Sir, are a simple-minded idiot who understands very little about people who are different than yourself. I suggest you refrain from commenting on the life experience of others that you are clearly incapable of comprehending.
      To put it more plainly in words you will understand: You’re an asshole with shit for brains.

  38. Tim says:

    Let’s encourage suicide. For some people is the only felt option. Enough of this ‘seek help’ stuff

    • TL says:

      How true! I went to over 30 so-called professionals and they used methods from the 19 century at best. I mean they have grown leaps and bounds with physical medicine, but when it comes to mental health they are at best, using 18th century methods. There is NO help for people who suffer from depression. Nor is there any compassion. I know I’m better off dead. My Husband died in my arms and I’m too ugly to date so I’d rather die and be with him than compete in the dating games.

  39. Abir Khalil says:

    One of the best articles I have read on suicide. I share the same view. We need more thinkers like this!

  40. Average Joe says:

    I also agree that the stigma in society about suicide is incorrect. Suicide is the ultimate freedom from a crappy life. I am a short man only 5 foot 6 inches. Therefore, I KNOW i will never have a good chance in the dating market since most females will not consider me for a long term relationship. Even in the workplace if I work hard and have the most education I will only get entry level jobs and not a management position because my stature is not very authoritative. The only reason I am still around is because I need to take care of my aging mother and grandmother. I have already traveled around the world and experienced what I wanted in life. Therefore, once my mother and grandmother passes away I might consider suicide as a logical choice. In my opinion no one should be forced to continue living a life that will be crappy and lonely for the next 60 years of their life. Great article by the way.

    • Blake says:

      Awesome! I envy your traveling, some people commit suicide without have enjoyed life.. You are a genius!

      • That Loner says:

        I know this is an old post but just to be clear, what would you do better; kill yourself and no one would care? Or waste almost 50 to 60 years suffering from remembering your abusive past and might as well travel all around the world seeing how destroyed it is and either decide to yourself, should I or should I not? This is probably common but I’ve been bullied since i was in Pre K till highschool. I think some people are my friends but when I make one wrong move they all turn they’re backs on me and make me the victim. I try to make it right a few days later but they see me still dwelling on the past and say that I’m butthurt. I tried killing myself when I was at the age of 11 but I got caught and had a 2 hours talk about it. I’ve been suffering a long 5 years wanting my parents to regret not letting me hang myself that night.I really want an easy way out and quick but I don’t want it to be that painful knowing that I’m a bitch that might back out as soon as i start doing what I’m doing.But back to suicide, just do it already that suffer more days or maybe years with burdens of your past.

  41. Iona says:

    I’m in unbearable emotional and physical pain I suffer from a few physiological disorders too. I have been suicidal since I was 9 years old ,I’ve come to a certain mind state were I believe death is a positive thing , we all live to die. I’m very religious ,I believe that God forgives all ,and that this life is sort of like a learning stage for the next. In heaven it’s eternal paradise and pure love on earth you have pros and cons , I think of it this way if you got offered 10$ for something and someone else offered you a million for it ,wich would you take . In my own opinion that’s how I view life and death why not skip this stage and go to the better one any great thing you experience here is going to be so much better that the minds we have now cannot comprehend. Even if you don’t believe God why not believe in the chance that if you believe in something hard enough it becomes real like with people who believe in positive and negative energy effecting their life’s and making their thoughts become a reality. On the other hand I cant remember when Before I was born and I like that I was non existing sounds awesome not a care not a thought. These are just my opinions on how I view life you can argue you you can call me down but really we all have free will in the end ,your opinions might be polar opposites of mine but that still doesn’t effect me either I know I could live on and eventually find a way to be happy but even when and if I do get there eternal paradise still sounds better to me. If we are suppose to consider everyone as equals than why not let others have their wishes, and focus on our own? I think that anyone who takes the time to set their heart out to do something and accomplishes it is a true hero in their own way it’s completing ones own prospective of purpose and self determination in what they Truley want . If people understood each other more than right away nit picking others opinions, motives, and choices and less mis communication than maybey we could all look past stuff like that and evolve into a race that truley
    Loves and respects each other just as God intended, and I also think that why should people hate the person that committed suicide we will all meet someday in the afterlife were time does not exist. It’s not like you’ve lost the person forever and ever. God put us here to give us a choice would we like to accept his love or to perish because in the afterlife everything is more real and we become all knowing so a decision like that is kind of irrelivent but here on earth our chance to have free will why not live and die like you want when in the end you know hoe were all going to end up anyways. I love the article it put a smile on my face wich is rare, it gave me a little sense of self justification. I’ve been planning mine for a long long time now but I want it to be perfect and no mistakes so I don’t end up stuck here in this lower class form of existing , even if I am sounding selfish it’s just my beliefs and I wouldn’t dare to questions yours, because there not mine so why should I care when it doesn’t effect me in a single way. As for murderers and rapists ect. god still forgives them that’s why Jesus died on the cross for us but as for the life’s they destroy after those people die and go to heaven gods love is so great that the pain and suffering God will take and replace with love even on earth there have been heartfelt cases of mercy. People who can’t own up to their own sins and ask for mercy will suffer eternal torment where time is endless forever viewing heaven out of the reach with no rest from the unimaginable pain , I pray and feel sorry for anyone who can’t do something as simple as accepting love into their hearts. God is love , love is God surrender to him and all shall be forgiven and you can meet your existence’s purpose of serving the one who made youor whatever it may be. Even the people who don’t want to exsist will open their eyes when they realize the glory of God. I would agree that I am preaching like a mofo but I just wanted to leave my opinion on somewere even if no one ever reads because i know I’d never say this to anyone in person without getting a black eye for expressing my opinion a little over the top. I hope you all have fulfilling wonderfull life’s and even if you don’t you will still get the peace everyone of us deserves so long as you believe. I am 19 years of age and and a female, a lot of you are probably going to say I don’t have a right to think like this at so young of a age but it makes me happy and satisfied to view life this way, and of course none of you know my life story so you can’t really understand my side entirely. . I never get to talk to people and I’ve never been brave enough to post a comment like this but it’s anonymous so it’s managable. Thanks for taking the time to read this if you happen to stumble across this and sit through the whole thing. God bless you all ,everyone deserves what they believe to be happiness.

  42. Iona says:

    * lol didn’t mean to type hoe too much typing. 0.0

  43. Blake says:

    This article is awesome, is exactly what I think about suicide.. All the people calling selfish are idiots.. Suicide is not a bad thing indeed is beautiful, and the pain that the family get is the same pain of any kind of dead.. Stop the drama we are here in this world without any clue about what is it all about.. Some people have big issues and disorders and normal happy people could +never understand a suicide because they never have a dude life of the suicide people… The biggest question is not why commit suicide? but, why you have waited so much time?

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  50. Anonymous says:

    I have been thinking of suicide for 2 months. I am between a dark past and a darker future. I am done with everything. It is not a selfish act because people who do not understand my pain are selfish. besides, I have nobody who is being sad for my death. Good for me..

    • Absolutely. Other people who want to keep you alive for their own purposes or because they don’t understand you, they are selfish.

      Now, I don’t want to be my article misunderstood to propagate suicide as an option which should be taken lightly. I don’t know what your “darker future” is, but in my darkest hours, I have compared my lot to those who are really bad off, with terrible and painful diseases for example, and I have always managed to pull through. Maybe that’s worth a thought.
      But then, as I wrote, the good thing about a successful suicide is that you won’t have second thoughts.

      Whatever you will do, respect for your decision and for your openness!

      • Clare57 says:

        Andreas,

        I am a practicing psychiatrist who has spent the last 35 years trying to prevent people from committing suicide (among other clinical pursuits) so of course my opinion is tainted by what I do. This is not just some hypothetical scenario *for me.* It’s what I actually do, daily.

        The vast majority of people who attempt suicide and get rescued (that is, are not allowed to die) or fail in their attempt (like in a botched attempt that doesn’t kill them) come to change their minds in the future and to feel grateful for having been saved (or for having survived).

        Whether or not an individual has a *right* to do it depends exclusively on a societal judgment. In certain societies euthanasia is allowed; in others it is banned. “Rights” are conventions. I don’t think they are inherent to someone. I think they are *granted* by the societal organization that precedes and succeeds that someone (a society is larger and more enduring than an individual). In my view, it’s as simple as that. There is no real self-determination in society. If the society in which one lives grants a person this right, then he or she has this right. If it doesn’t grant it, then one doesn’t, in the views of that society, and that society would be justified in trying to stop the person. Of course one most likely would still do it. I find, in my practice, that people who are really adamant that they want to die (that minority of those who don’t change their minds), end up doing it regardless of the help they get. They always find a way. You can’t put them on suicide watch forever, so eventually they’ll do it.

        But our effort as psychiatrists is to try to avoid it, exactly to give that person the opportunity to change her or his mind, which most of them do. All this self-determination, apparently ethical stance of respect for the person’s autonomy, is actually in my opinion a form of neglect. The decent and humane thing to do given the fact that most suicidal people change their minds, is to step in and avoid the event as much as possible. Failure to intervene would be neglectful, just like if you see a blind person walking towards a cliff, you wouldn’t just cross your arms and say “oh well, he has the right to walk in whatever direction he chooses” — that would be grossly neglectful. You’d step in and prevent the fatal fall from the cliff.

        Now, you’d say, but if the person is really determined and is one of those who won’t change their minds about it, it’s a violence done to them. Sure, sure…. But the number of people who are what we could call victims of this violence is *far* outnumbered by the number of people who change their minds, therefore it is also ethically defensible, in the name of the larger good, to intervene. Just like rights are relative, ethics are also relative since they have conflicting approaches. There is the ethic of personal autonomy, but there is also the ethic of the larger good. Traditionally, in Western thinking, the latter outweighs the former.

        This is why I *am* in favor of forceful suicide watch to prevent someone from committing suicide, and most states have ruled that attempts to harm oneself are grounds for involuntary civil commitment.

      • I am thankful for your professional insight!

        I don’t doubt that the majority of those who survive are happy that they survive. But the point of my article was that those who succeed can be certain to never regret that decision. (I don’t believe in second lives, particularly not those with a capability to reflect on first lives.)

        Regarding the issue of a “right to suicide”, I would differ. Although I am a lawyer, my article is a philosophical one. Or in the context of a legal discussion, it could be seen as a proposal for legislation.

        I do think that there are certain rights which exist without society accepting them. In fact, they also exist if society denies them, it just leads to a conflict in that case.
        I don’t see why society would have a stronger right than an individual about a decision which doesn’t affect society as much as it dies the individual. And where does society take its rights from? If you argue that individuals don’t have inherent rights (which I think is not even a view espoused by legal positivists any longer, except in completely totalitarian states), why would a society?

        And even in a society, there are things which are none of society’s business. Ending one’s own life is one of the more personal decisions, I would argue. In that case, we don’t get to the point where we weigh autonomy against the “greater” good”, although I also fail to see a greater good in keeping people alive against their will. There are 7 billion people in the world, so it’s no like we are lacking people. And you can’t force anyone to be a “productive” member of society anyway.
        Interestingly, in debates about euthanasia (which is not the main focus of my article), the “greater good” is usually invoked by proponents of euthanasia, citing the expenses of keeping people alive who don’t make a tangible contribution to society.
        It seems to me that your “greater good” argument is not a financial one, but one with the goal of keeping as many people alive as possible. I would ask (1) why that should be good, (2) who gives society the right to decide this for 100% of the population instead of accepting that different ideas can live in one society, and (3) why it is the obligation of A to stay alive against his will because B wants to keep C alive?

  51. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for your reply. I do not take suicide lightly. So far, I did not do that because I do not want to traumatize my depressed daughter, as nobody else is around. My husband says our marriage is over, I can not take it anymore. maybe some people laugh at me, but nobody is in my situation.

    • Life without marriage is not necessarily bad. Freedom!

      • TL says:

        Freedom you say? My wonderful Husband died in my arms. I don’t feel free, I want to join him!

      • You cannot join dead people. Even if you die.

      • Anna says:

        Andreas, how can you be so sure there is nothing after we die? You replied to this woman who said she wants to join her husband once she dies, and you just said that won’t happen. I am not saying it will or will not, but How can you be SO sure? Could you explain me, please?

      • Because we don’t have any physical functions left to experience or perceive anything after we die. It’s over. We are not there anymore once the heart ain’t pumpin’ no more.

  52. Iyj says:

    This article is very awkward but it’s what I need

  53. Jonathan says:

    Andreas,

    I hope you don’t mind this slightly off topic question about intellectuality and suicide.

    Let me clarify what I mean by ‘intellectually slow person’. Obviously I am not referring to the person who meets the criteria for an Intellectual Disability (also called mental retardation)…. I am talking about the person who has the ability to learn necessary academic skills, but at a rate and depth BELOW average same age peers. In order to grasp new concepts, this person needs more time, more repetition, and often more resources from teachers to be successful. Typically, this person has great difficulty with new and complex reasoning which makes new concepts difficult to learn.

    Slow learners tend to perform at their ability level which is below average. These individuals are prone to much anxiety and low self image which goes unnoticed by many in society. They often feel ‘stupid’ and begin hating school at an early age. Day-to-day academic life can be very draining and yet many somehow manage to make it through the system and through high school (in the United States).

    The psychologist and intelligence researcher Linda Gottfredson wrote a good piece titled Why g Matters: The Complexity of Everyday Life. An excerpt:

    “Life is replete with uncertainty, change, confusion, and misinformation, sometimes minor and at times massive. From birth to death, life continually requires us to master abstractions, solve problems, draw inferences, and make judgments on the basis of inadequate information. Such demands may be especially intense in school, but they hardly cease when one walks out the school door…”

    Question:

    Can you sympathize with a person who says that one of their major reasons for contemplating suicide often (besides exhaustion and personal failure) is that they just don’t feel competent to handle the mental demands of life.

    Thanks,

    Jonathan

    • Hello Jonathan,
      the main point of my article is that A has no right to judge B’s reasons for suicide and that B is completely free in his decisions.
      Having said that, I would suggest that slow is not necessarily bad. It can also mean more thoughtful and more cautious. You can take some of the hectic out of contemporary life.

  54. Lavendergrove says:

    I am late to this discussion and must reject most of what is said in your OP.

    You might think suicide would be an option, but most great philosophers, council against it, seeing suicide as “a form of aggression and quite specifically an assertion of self-will.”

    In suicide there is NO escape from suffering, but the aggravation of it, as the suicide must anxiously will him or herself to commit the act in the first place. And once dead, the will that was manifest in the body is reunited with the primal, universal will once more to become objectified to suffer yet again.

    The only real escape comes through turning against the will to life through asceticism. In this, a person ceases to desire altogether, and like in Buddhism and Hinduism, becomes reconciled with the impermanent nature of the universe. But this cannot be accomplished through willing it to be. The will to life must evaporate through an understanding of the ultimate nothingness of our world. When we come to realize that no-thing is ultimately real or important, then the chains that bind us are slackened and we find ourselves melting away into the buzzing backdrop that is the universe, feeling no separation, no distinction between ourselves and all the other manifestations that arise out of the noumena. We realize that everything is, at its foundation, one. Once this is understood, then there is no need for further painful striving.

    • No. When you’re dead, it’s over. And your bla bla doesn’t help anyone as much as a bullet does.

      • Lavendergrove says:

        >”No. When you’re dead, it’s over. And your bla bla doesn’t help anyone as much as a bullet does.”

        ———

        No, this is wrong.

        Suicide changes nothing. You will always have already suffered and killing yourself entails that you will never even experience a future without suffering since experiencing ceases when you cease. Life isn’t the affliction, it’s ‘life with suffering’ that afflicts the individual (every one); therefore, the problem is how to minimize suffering. Eliminating life in order to eliminate suffering futilely attempts to “save the village by destroying the village” (or killing the patient in order to cure the patient), that is, doesn’t solve — even address — the problem at all.

      • I am worried that your ramblings will cause more suicides than my article.

  55. Stewart_NP says:

    I am addressing my comment to the psychiatrist Clare57 above.

    It amazes me that conversations about whether people have a “right” to commit suicide persist. It’s really not a matter of whether people ought to have a right, unless we mean by this a formal legal permission to act. The question that ought to be asked is whether there are *sufficient* resources to alleviate suffering people’s pain so much that *they* (not those of us judging from the outside) would want to continue living. There’s a deeper question of self ownership, but the immediately salient question is whether we realistically have the resources to take others’ pain away reliably and sufficiently. If we don’t then we have no business preventing others from
    doing what they feel they must to end their suffering.

    It’s stunning that so many in the lay and professionals assume that the medical, public health, and community (not to mention the financial…) resources as they exist are enough to address suffering globally that we, arrogantly, can dismiss others’ evaluation of their own moment-by-moment existence. Suicide hotlines, as recently reported on in the news in a large scandal of state veterans suicide prevention hotline workers’ wholesale abandonment of their responsibilities, are very often overstaffed by *volunteers.* They’re overworked and uncompensated (financially), and as a result they often can’t or are disinclined to help. Nor is it any guarantee that mere words, concepts can cure what ails someone suffering.

    Doctors and psychologists do not in fact understand precisely what causes depression. There are associations among biological and social variables, but no precise cause-effect relationship. Depression may even be a natural response to certain experiences one cannot control, and genetics reveal there’s a mood “set-point” that may predispose some to becoming depressed.
    Predilection to certain moods may be a matter of variation. Consequently, the therapies–drug, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, DBT — may work well enough for some, but can’t guarantee relief for sufferers in general. Worse, it’s anathema just to admit this in professional circles that have reputations and financial investments to protect, creating a significant intellectual and social bias on a subject we all should own, share in talking about.

    And just to mention one more area in which assumed resources may be sorely lacking, community members–family, coworkers, employers, acquaintances–are under no obligation to be understanding or supportive. Many deeply depressed human beings are abandoned for being “burdens” to others–the same others who, ironically, then refuse to allow these burdensome individuals the dignity of choosing a way out of life and suffering. Add to this the financial pressures inherent in surviving in a capitalist culture that asserts no one has a “right” to a job or general entitlement to money, which is a prerequisite of modern survival; and the additional challenges *different* people may face–minorities, those judged aesthetically unappealing, older citizens, etc–and the mere practicalities of surviving become more and more challenging even without factoring in the emotional elements of surviving. That the rest of us “do it” shouldn’t be a mandate for every other human.

    If we cannot take others’ pain away, then it is cruel and presumptuous of us to demand they stay alive.

  56. Seth Rogen says:

    Also a pattern I’ve seen is people questioning whether they even want to stay in Today’s society because of how different (not like socially awkward) they are. In their thinking about life and if it is valued to the same degree. The pursuit of knowledge should go before any decision. Because if you really do Need help get it. But if all other resources don’t work…. Then why not graduate life early

  57. Norbert says:

    I have to first apologize to Andreas and readers in general for the length of my comment. But, I have to respond to “Clare57”, the psychiatrist’s comment above.

    I do not believe most reasonable adults who pose the question of whether an individual should have a “right” to die (a) are unaware that rights are granted us by our governments (this is
    immediately obvious from surveying how easily many rights are suspended), or (b) are referencing legal rights. I believe we mean “rights” as a proxy for personal freedoms. And, indeed, individuals are free to end our lives, to the extent that our evolved instincts and our ability to arrange circumstances permit. When most speak, outside of the recent movements across the globe t establish formal legal protections for end-of-life decisions, of rights to die, it’s arguable they mean the freedom to choose to die without being constrained emotionally, legally, medically, and socially. I disagree that such a right is at all societally conferred. I am certain humans have committed suicide in all sorts of social systems across the span of our species’ many cultures, regardless what such cultures “permitted.”

    I also disagree that a society is justified in attempting to stop one who, say, attempts to end her/his life because that society hasn’t “granted” such a right. Having the power to do something doesn’t equate to being justified in doing it. Ultimately, evaluative justifications depend on moral perspectives, which lack objectivity. At the root, society’s so-called justifications are feelings and biases, not facts, and not right or wrong.

    I am not trying to be argumentative, but for a similar reason, I challenge the assertion that society is larger than an individual. Yes, obviously society is greater in mass and other physical characteristics than a sole human being. However, society’s will, prejudices, and conventions needn’t supersede the judgements and decisions of any of its individuals. Many “right” ideas issued from individuals who held radically different ideas from those common in their cultures. Here I’m thinking in particular of new ways of seeing the world in the natural sciences–ideas that empiricism, often centuries after the ideas’ authors’ deaths, eventually demonstrated to be
    true. Where it seems that society’s valued ideas are greater than ideas or beliefs of individuals, I’d offer that if this cannot be objectively shown to be true then perhaps the sorts of things under consideration don’t exist in fact outside the realm of human imagination or desire, such that enough people believing these things to be true or good or right are able to create
    the illusion of truth or goodness or rightness.

    I agree with you that patients who are determined to end their lives are significantly more likely to do so. And I believe you that there are many patients who seriously attempted suicide but who were interrupted and who subsequently are thankful for having failed in their attempts. However, I do not think the latter fact is a sufficient justification for wholesale usurpation of individual freedom to decide. There are many choices that the majority would judge to be wrong and which others who chose differently later express gratitude for not having made–dropping out of school, marrying/not marrying someone… Few today seriously believe that even if the rest of us feel we know what is right in a given situation we should be entitled to decide for another adult simply because others appear statistically to regret making a particular class of choices. If we are free (in that we value the ability to make our own personal life choices to the extent possible) then even choices considered to be horrible “mistakes” ought to be ours to make.

    I suspect, further, that you realize the reasoning flaw in the psychiatrist’s common argument that most of her/his patients feel a certain way and therefore public policy ought to be X. You cannot infer from the characteristics of a general selection of patients what is true in a population (selection bias…). For one thing, your patients are not a random selection from the population. For another, even attempting randomization is likely to miss the population of suicidal individuals who don’t seek medical care, and further, the population who don’t seek medical care and complete suicide. We could add to these those who have received care, expressed gratitude for not having committed suicide, but whose perceptions are then lost to distant follow-up. Together these, minimally, distort assumption about will to die.

    As for the assertion that “failure to intervene would be neglectful,” I find it stunning that our culture feels, ostensibly, obliged to intervene when someone is at the threshold of death, but not at the innumerable moments of significant stress leading up to the decision to end life. If we cannot provide people means to derive what they need out of life, or cannot provide them guaranteed ways to cope with their frustrations and pains, then it is arguable that it is neglectful to force them to live lives they do not value.

    Yes, some come to value lives they once did not. I don’t know whether those much-touted success stories reflect accurately the way such individuals feel over time. Several medical teams have demonstrated that humans who suffer tremendous daily stress due to characteristics like gender, race, age….prevalently deny experiencing emotional stresses despite real-time physiological manifestations of these stresses when measured throughout the day over long periods of time. In several such studies when researchers reconvened some of their earlier research subjects, these latter confessed that they’d lied on earlier assessments. Claiming X does not mean X is true, and there are reasons people may make inaccurate claims on self assessments after a key even (reporting bias). In any case, many of us don’t feel that others changing their minds about something is sufficient justification for denying the rest of us the freedom to make the decision ourselves.

    You wrote, about your cliff analogy, “But the number of people who are what we could call victims of this violence is *far* outnumbered by the number of people who change their minds, therefore it is also ethically defensible, in the name of the larger good, to intervene.” I wholly disagree. That the majority of a population is heterosexual and wishes to enforce a heterosexual model of human interactions doesn’t justify forcing non-heterosexuals to conform to society’s dictates. The concept of “the larger good” does not justify forcing individuals to change their private decisions. There is no ethical defense here because, as you say, ethics are relative. Rather, there is a rationalization concretized by the physical power of the majority. The majority can restrain and force others to act in a certain way. That’s all that’s happening here.

    You are right that currently voicing a will to harm oneself entitles the state and psychological professionals to remove one’s freedoms, to physically restrain one, to force one to undergo “treatments” one does not want. These were once legitimate treatments for homosexuals, too. Society evolved in our assessment of what is appropriate in this sense. I’m confident we are in the process of evolving on the issue of adults’ freedoms to choose to remain alive or not, as demonstrated by more and more polls in the US and abroad showing growing populations favoring individuals’ rights to decide on life/death. In the meantime, people who are serious about not wanting to remain alive and who are well enough read to be aware of arguments like yours AND the threat of the loss of personal freedom are likely not to express feelings or thoughts that are likely to catalyze their commitment.

    It’s fascinating that given all human history has taught us about the problems inherent in some adults deciding how other adults should live (or not) their private lives, we in the 21st century are still building arguments to justify doing the same.

  58. James kathron says:

    yeah when the loneliness abandonment homelessness joblessness feeling worthless divorced after 26 years losing a 20-year career being fired it’s a right-to-work state you work at the pleasure of your employer. to lose a $300,000 house given to me by judge..gave back to her not to displace my kids so i was homeless in my truck. separated from your kids when all you tried to do was protect them and make a better life and your spouse abandons you and them to engage and enjoy life with other people when her responsibilities are totally neglected by a family rotten job health issues basically no friends they all moved away from where I live Florida because they can’t stand it .Florida is a very hostile nasty place to live I can’t afford to move my kids don’t talk to me I don’t get to see my grandkids they all live about 3 miles away it’s always I’m busy that I’m busy and some excuse or there’s an emotional rants and pity parties i engage best i can postive in I’ve done all I can to be a good father and a husband but everything seems to get turned around somehow just like the judge told me she ordered me the house because my ex cannot cohabitate till the divorce is over and I give house back to them because I didn’t want to displace my children so I ended up homeless and 17 family members of hers turn their back on me after knowing them for 30 years and my brother and sister have nothing to do with me in Canada because I feel they feel we were abandoned as kids and they have some issues…so its on me ?? but I don’t know why they’re putting them on me or can I have some kind of dialogue with me I tried everything possible a man can do to engage and have some positive and happy times with my family and it all just gets pissed away so what do I look for I work bust my ass ride a scooter there by the scooter back torrential rains living a little trailer room. where’s its the dark light its existence and I’m sick of it so I feel I have a right to do what I want to do to get out of this situation and if suicide is the answer which it seems like it is to me that’s fine because I really don’t think people really would care what happens to me and like most people or almost everybody that dies is pretty much forgotten about it after a while and also like the article said we’re all going to die one day I’m dealing with this for 9 years now not even allowed to my ex-wife’s house after pissing if I have to go the bathroom in the backyard never allowed in the house to go to the bathroom treated like a dog …my.dr. said that that is abomination to treat her husband for 28 years she tells me to use the backyard. As toilet when i came to vist kids. ..a disgrace and a form of trying to suck the dignity out of someone…i am tired fed uo and at end

    • Mavrey says:

      The suicidal person should pause for a moment and realize that, while committing suicide may seem an act of defiance, of liberation, even of revenge against family members or the world, it has consequences that are not transient or joyful at all. The consequences are permanent and dire. And they can reverberate over the generations.

      That is why we must fight suicidal despair with wisdom.

      We must look at the long-term consequences for our families and, if you believe in such things, for our souls. Let me turn to Hamlet, as we all should in these moments. In the “To Be or Not to Be” soliloquy, he speaks of the “undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveler returns, puzzles the will and makes us rather bear those ills we have than fly to others we know not of.”

      That soliloquy is not and never has been strictly about suicide. It and Hamlet himself cannot be reduced to anything, a stance with which Harold Bloom, author of Hamlet: Poem Unlimited, would concur.

      Like mental illness, like suicide, Hamlet, the most paradoxical character ever written, cannot be figured out, certainly not in any simplistic fashion. He is ever expansive, like the brain and the soul, which we will never be able to chart conclusively.

      They will always defy reductive explanations, for the brain and the soul cannot be mapped like geographic territories. They remain, at least, in part, “undiscovered countries,” ghosts in the machine.

      But they present us with an infinite variety of opportunities to heal and thrive, none more so than our ability to harness our free will, a fierce love, and put ourselves in safe environments.

      If we do those things and maybe get a little lucky, we can subdue our depression, psychosis and suicidal ideation.

      As Hamlet says, “There’s a divinity that shapes our ends, roughhew them how we will.”

      • There are no souls.

      • Petrovic says:

        Mavry,

        I’d like to give you the benefit of the doubt that you mean to be
        helpful. However, what you offer above is a point of view, something most
        adults realize doesn’t constitute knowledge that’s generalizable to what
        others ought to feel or think.

        I don’t think I’m alone in doubting “wisdom.” There are objective facts and
        knowledge–the best way to build an engine given the materials you have, or
        the most effective ways to prevent communicable diseases… And then there
        are opinions that may converge into cultural values–how to build a happy
        marriage, how to manage relationships between/among generations. You are
        addressing the latter category of human knowledge: subjective, value-based
        judgments. Biology, including cognitive sciences (quite distinct from
        psychology as a general discipline), tells us about the type of animal humans
        are. However, there is no objectivity underneath the claims you’ve made, and
        hence no sufficiently strong reason your perspective ought to be superimposed
        on, or wholly displace, the perspectives of others who feel differently from
        you. I am of the same opinion regarding the very, very, very many value
        judgments, as opposed to objective knowledge, psychology as a discipline
        tends to make.

        There is no evidence of a soul–and many reasons to doubt that if such a
        thing existed it would have anything to do with human moralizing. Hamlet,
        while an entertaining piece of literature, is fictional. Just as there are no
        ghosts, that we know of (where are the insect ghosts or dinosaur ghosts? Why
        would only one particular species–or the species we like–have souls/become
        ghosts?), there is no verifiable objective knowledge in the attractive words
        and imagery in Hamlet.

        I’m not trying to be rude or disrespectful, but so long as people CAN
        consider suicide and CAN commit suicide, many will seek out suicide if they
        evaluate their own lives as sufficiently painful or valueless. And no amount
        of reveling in religion or philosophy or the arts or the values psychologists
        judge to be “right” will prevent people from doing what they reason is in
        their best interests. History is replete with evidence to this effect.

        On a separate note, from your comment I got the sense you had yourself
        experienced suicidal thoughts. Pardon me if I’m wrong. If I’m right, I’m
        happy for you that you’ve found a way to bring value to your life once more.
        And thank you for reiterating for me that having experienced suicidal
        ideation is not enough to guarantee either sensitivity towards or insight
        into what other suicidal humans are struggling with. Each human being
        considering ending her/his own life is, in this sense, on his/her own. But
        reading or hearing insensitive, ineffectual advice for many only augments
        feelings of deep alienation, leading to even greater depression.

        I’m very, very disappointed that the analysis you’ve provided above is the
        counsel you have to offer the suicidal.

  59. Ompa lumpa says:

    Well what are you waiting for why not take your very own advise?

  60. HiThere says:

    I think whoever wants to end their life should feel free to do so. No man has the right to judge another man. Because you grew up with a “white picket fence” life you have the right to call others “pussies, irresponsible, quitters” It’s not your life. It doesn’t concern you, go fuck yourselves.

  61. Anonymous says:

    Yes. No one thinks of the pain the individual goes through in continuing to exist just so others don’t feel bad.

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  64. Adrian says:

    I must say that I have often regretted not committing suicide. I first thought about it more than thirty years ago. I have lived in a hell of depression for thirty years because I didn’t do what I felt was right then. People misunderstand the story of Pandora’s box. Hope was the nastiest thing in it, because it encourages us to go on when we should just say, I’ve had enough. Too many bad things have happened. It will never change for the better. It hasn’t for me. Wish I’d caught the ‘bus all those years ago.

  65. Ellison says:

    Suicide is an age-old problem, one that is unlikely to be solved with any individual policy changes or technological innovations. The causes, conditions, and means of suicide are too diverse, and the problem too widespread, to imagine that we will ever prevent this problem.

    Let me just say that many humans are naturally biased to think that being alive is better than being dead. To some, the idea of not wanting to live is so instinctually repugnant that they literally cannot understand suicide. I do not think that is hyperbole; I think they literally are incapable of grasping it.

    What is life, and why is it valuable? Personally, I’m of the opinion that life isn’t great. That may be, and hopefully is, just an empirical contingency, and in some way, at some time, in a distant universe, there may one day be life that is great, that is worth living. However, that’s not the life we have now, so our only option is to cope with what we have. Ending life is one way of coping — not one that could be universally recommendable, but also not one that I can find a reason to condemn outright. Who am I to judge, or blame? Only the sheltered could do so ingenuously.

    Some people have genetics and life experiences which make living life a wonderful thing. For others though the reality of life is much sadder and many wish that they were never born. It is unethical to force someone to stay alive who never had a choice on whether to be born or not and who does not want to live. I believe that we should make assisted suicide accessible for people who do not want to live.

    Life is a personal responsibility and not everyone is able (or cut out) to cope with the pressures of this difficult life.

  66. Anonymous says:

    when you go looking for sites about suicide… because you feel like doing it and people just tell you how bad you are even more…. thanks :( … i guess :/

    • Jake Laponder says:

      aha go fuck yourself cunt, tie the noose or whatever and get it over with. we dont need people like you anyway

  67. Garol says:

    “What need is there to weep over parts of life? The whole of it calls for tears”

    —Seneca

  68. Anna says:

    There should be a place like Disney, but instead of being a victim of consumerism, people will have the time of their life and eat well, then die peacefully. I will go to that place. I have contemplated suicide. I feel sad for so many terrible things that happen in this world. I don’t wanna be part of this failed society. I don’t like this world: humans are too mean, even though there so many good people. Things won’t change, and I believe we are few year away until the WWIII will start to develop. So much suffering and still we think that we should stay alive, and have a happy life for ourselves. What about the rest? We are really selfish. Of course, I ALSO believe that I will do more if I stay alive. Like helping those living begins that suffer and need for us to do something. I am doing it, I am helping, but I wish I could do more. More, like getting rid off those cruel people, and persuading those who are not bad, but still do nothing to fight evil. Well, I guess you get my point. I will stay alive even though I don’t like living in this world. Bye people, and enjoy criticizing me, or ignoring me, or supporting me, or whatever. Be happy, and I hope you can make other’s life happy as well.

  69. Nicola G says:

    The love of my life committed suicide 6 weeks ago. I’m beyond devastated. There were no signs at all, he just called me one day to say goodbye and that was it.

    BUT I could never hate him or resent him, I have nothing but pure love for him.

    Life wasn’t kind to him since he was a small child. It hasn’t been so kind to me either. I would much rather be where he is than where I am but I don’t have the guts to do it.

    I read a comment below of hatred for their relative for committing suicide 7 years ago. I can’t imagine anyone hating someone for taking their life, no matter what the reason is. It’s sad you feel that way towards him. Human beings can be so nasty and are usually the main reason why people want to escape this world. Have love in your heart for him, he gave up his life for a reason.

  70. Layla says:

    I love this article. Everything you said is really true and I agree. I’ve been planning my suicide for a while now. I just simply don’t want to be here. Why should I have to force myself to suffer hahaha? I’m not depressed really I’m just very realistic. My eyes are very open unlike others. I don’t have the courage yet, but one day it will come. Nothing is wrong with suicide. 😊👋🏽

    • Anonymous says:

      Whatever your ultimate decision is on the matter, I wish you the best. Whatever choice you make, may you have the strength to go through with it.

  71. Anonymous says:

    Makes total sense to me.

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