• Vera Mont
    3.8k
    I'm not asking about the legal and moral aspects - that's been covered in many discussions and the two camps are unlikely ever to reconcile.
    From a purely rational standpoint,
    are there sound, logical reasons to commit suicide?
    Are there frivolous and silly ones that nevertheless compel people to do it? If so, why do they?
    Are there reasons that seem to make sense from one POV, but not from another?
    Should other people intervene?
    What is your opinion?
  • flannel jesus
    1.7k
    Inescapable suffering that makes any joy in life impossible seems like a valid reason to me.
  • tim wood
    9k
    From a purely rational standpoint,Vera Mont
    Hmm.
    are there sound, logical reasons to commit suicide?Vera Mont
    Not to be confused with "good" or sufficient reasons. If I have a visitor, I can move to greet, wait for, or move to delay the meeting. If the visitor is death, and if the benefit is to move and greet, then why not? Otherwise, I do not think so. Or if so, reason can reason its own annihilation?
    Are frivolous and silly ones?Vera Mont
    Can frivolous and silly be purely rational?
    Are there reasons that seem to make sense from one POV, but not from another?Vera Mont
    If purely rational, how could there be a different POV?
    What is your opinion?Vera Mont
    Being purely rational, I do not have opinions.
  • Manuel
    4k
    Well, there's a lot to say in favor and against of suicide. But, at a very fundamental level, if you don't have control over when you end your life, then what do you have control of? Why even speak of rights?

    I think there are several situations that are worse than death. And many more that are better.
  • Tom Storm
    8.7k
    I don't have a problem with suicide. If people experince life as so miserable that they would prefer to die (and this can come about through mental ill health, illness, trauma, old age, etc) I completely understand.

    But what is sobering are the number of people I have met who have tried to kill themselves and failed or been 'talked around' and then have recovered from their despair, only to gain a different perspective on life and the problems they face. Generally those people are extremely thankful they did not succeed in killing themselves. This to me suggests that intervention is important.

    There are many people who use threats of suicide and attempts to gain attention. There are others who are not thinking clearly and only contemplate suicide because they are not able to imagine better solutions to whatever issue they are dealing with. There are people who appear to have no alternative - extreme pain or trauma. There are some who are just overwhelmed and for whom suicide is an overreaction. And also those who see suicide as a kind of fitting punishment for their family. I have spent a lot of time as part of a suicide intervention team in my city over 20 years, so I have seen most types of self-harm presentations.
  • Joshs
    5.4k


    For suicide to be rational, one would have to believe that the destruction of sentience brings with it the relief of suffering. That might seem to be obvious , but one might instead surmise that death has no effect on current suffering, precisely because it can’t be experienced.
  • Leontiskos
    2k
    All of the reasons for or against suicide (including "moral" reasons) come up short against the opacity of death. That is, we don't know what happens when we die. Those who have a strong stance on suicide almost necessarily have a strong stance on what happens when we die. The only caveat is that someone who is suffering may believe that anything is better than their current suffering, and hence they may wish to commit suicide regardless of what happens when we die.
  • Vera Mont
    3.8k
    Can frivolous and silly be purely rational?tim wood
    No, they are the opposite. The rational observer can readily perceive this.
    If purely rational, how could there be a different POV?tim wood
    Most people. Most of the time, are nothing like purely rational. And that's why they can have very different opinions, even from quite similar perspectives. When the perspective differs widely, there is a good chance that the opinion will, too. The rational observer can usually see both sides and explain why they are different.
    I am asking respondents to be that observer.
  • Joshs
    5.4k

    The rational observer can usually see both sides and explain why they are different.
    I am asking respondents to be that observer
    Vera Mont

    The ‘rational observer’ who believes that different rational perspectives can be subsumed within one overarching notion of rationality which unites them will be at risk of explaining the difference between perspectives by blaming one of them for being irrational or poorly thought out.
  • Joshs
    5.4k


    All of the reasons for or against suicide (including "moral" reasons) come up short against the opacity of death. That is, we don't know what happens when we die. Those who have a strong stance on suicide almost necessarily have a strong stance on what happens when we die. The only caveat is that someone who is suffering may believe that anything is better than their current suffering, and hence they may wish to commit suicide regardless of what happens when we die.Leontiskos
    :up:
  • Vera Mont
    3.8k
    The ‘rational observer’ who believes that different rational perspectives can be subsumed within one overarching notion of rationality which unites them will be at risk of explaining the difference between perspectives by blaming one of them for being irrational or poorly thought out.Joshs
    Perhaps. And he may be correct in that assessment. But I didn't say the two different perspectives were rational - only that the observer is.
    By which I mean, the observer does not take a moralistic or religious or parental or emotional or legal position, but can see whether one or both parties in disagreement have taken such a position, and if so, what those positions are.

    I see I've made a fatal error in using the word 'rational'. I meant your perspective, not the subjects'; theirs may or may not be. I was asking you to judge.
  • fdrake
    6.1k
    Someone could construct a logically valid to conclude that they should off themselves. But the premises might not be believed.

    1 ) I should kill myself if I did not eat 50 grams of vanilla ice cream today.
    2 ) I did not eat 50 grams of vanilla ice cream today.
    Therefore 3 ) I should kill myself. (modus ponens)

    As for soundness, I doubt many people would agree that 1 ) is true. So that brings moral and ethical norms regarding suicide into the question.

    What about:

    1 ) I will end my life if I end up in a position of unendurable permanent suffering.
    2 ) I am in a position of unendurable permanent suffering.
    3 ) I will end my life.

    That seems a bit more reasonable, as it's effectively euthanising yourself. But the claim that one could rationally commit to suicide, in terms of those arguments, turns on how intuitive 1 ) is in the second argument vs how intuitive 1 ) is in the first argument. The latter being more intuitive than the former. Due to norms.

    Are there frivolous and silly ones that nevertheless compel people to do it? If so, why do they?
    Are there reasons that seem to make sense from one POV, but not from another?
    Should other people intervene?
    What is your opinion?
    Vera Mont

    In terms of IRL relevance your first question misses a means of compulsion, things that behave more like causes than reasons. Someone can readily become overwhelmed by their life at a moment in time and try to kill themselves in a barely cognitive frenzy (see here). You might want to construe the antecedent life circumstances as an explanation for their behaviour, but it isn't necessarily the reason why they did it. Just like gravity might not be the reason a bin tips over.

    Reasons that seem to make sense from one POV but not from another - I mean yes. Trivially so. All that requires is that one person believes that a reason to off themselves makes sense, and another doesn't understand it.

    Should other people intervene? In some circumstances definitely yes. In some circumstances I think probably not (like Pratchett's euthanasia).

    What is my opinion? People are wonderful enough to regularly value some things in life higher than their own life. Children. Duty. What is just. The absence of pain. So long as people will value some things more than their own life they're going to be people who die by their own choosing. I think suicide is a paradoxical life affirming urge to have already lived another life.

    To quote Cioran, "I would always kill myself too late". (from The Trouble With Being Born).
  • flannel jesus
    1.7k
    But it turns on how intuitive 1 ) is in the second argument vs how intuitive 1 ) is in the first argument.fdrake

    What does this mean? It turnsout how intuitive 1 is in the second vs how intuitive 1 is in the first is what? It doesn't feel like you finished your sentence.
  • fdrake
    6.1k
    What does this mean? It turnsout how intuitive 1 is in the second vs how intuitive 1 is in the first is what? It doesn't feel like you finished your sentence.flannel jesus

    I elaborated, thank you for your comment.
  • flannel jesus
    1.7k
    no problem, reads better now


    You say "due to norms". You think it's only norms that make the second argument more agreeable? What do you mean by "norms" there? Do you mean due to completely arbitrary cultural values?
  • 180 Proof
    14.7k
    From a purely rational standpoint,
    are there sound, logical reasons to commit suicide?
    Vera Mont
    I don't think so.

    After all, from a rational standpoint, suicide is a disproportionately (ir-ratio ... absurd) permanent solution to a temporary problem. :smirk:

    Are there frivolous and silly ones that nevertheless compel people to do it? If so, why do they?
    Again, I don't think so. A "why" might be divined by their survivors but does not "compel" suicides themselves. Maybe it's the subjective loss of "why" that compels them.

    Are there reasons that seem to make sense from one POV, but not from another?
    Insofar as such "reasons" are third-person, ex post facto guesses, I think so.

    Should other people intervene?
    No ...

    What is your opinion?
    ... others usually can't help it (out of love), I suspect, whenever they do "intervene".
  • Tom Storm
    8.7k
    Those who have a strong stance on suicide almost necessarily have a strong stance on what happens when we die.Leontiskos

    I'm not so sure of this. In the suicide interventions I have conducted, many are theists. While they fear god's judgment in the afterlife, they still feel compelled to kill themselves. I think this subject is fairly nebulous. My sense is that people know they are going to continue to suffer here and will take their chances with a god or an afterlife later. The unknown fear is preferable to the known experience.
  • Paine
    2.2k

    Intervention sometimes takes the form of an errand. Do as you please but take care of x first.
    Sometimes it becomes a full-time job.

    I know that parenting has interfered with my most self-destructive tendencies. Maybe a broader view of the act is needed.
  • Tom Storm
    8.7k
    Intervention sometimes takes the form of an errand.Paine

    Certainly. Or it's part of your job.

    parenting has interfered with my most self-destructive tendencies.Paine

    Me too.
  • Vera Mont
    3.8k
    After all, from a rational standpoint, suicide is a disproportionately (ir-ratio ... absurd) permanent solution to a temporary problem.180 Proof
    A prison sentence is also temporary. A fifteen-year sentence may be very difficult endure. But at the end, the prisoner is set free (for better or worse.) A death sentence is also temporary, even if it goes on for fifteen years, since it ends in death.
    Terminal illness is a death sentence. Temporary, but its ending will not result in death, not a pain-free life. In that instance, hastening the inevitable end shortens the temporary suffering.
  • Tarskian
    301
    Inescapable suffering that makes any joy in life impossible seems like a valid reason to me.flannel jesus

    According to Islamic doctrine, no suffering is inescapable. There is always hope.

    Quran 4:30 And kill not yourselves. Surely, Allah is Merciful to you.

    Patience is a virtue. Allah promises great rewards for those who bear hardship with patience.

    If you have strong capacity to believe, then you can make use of such capacity to faith to believe that things will eventually get better and to sit out the temporary misery. That is the power of religious autosuggestion.
  • Vera Mont
    3.8k

    Yah. I think that comes under the religious, rather the rational heading.
  • Tarskian
    301
    Yah. I think that comes under the religious, rather the rational heading.Vera Mont

    I use rationality merely as a tool. I actually only use it when it suits me and I certainly do not identify with it. There may possibly be rational reasons to have hope and to keep faith in the future in spite of all adversity, in spite of all tribulations, but why use a hammer when the better tool is actually a screwdriver?

    There are no rational reasons why life itself exists. So, why would there be a rational reason for insisting on staying alive and surviving in spite of all the hardships? When the going gets tough, the most straightforward solution is to seek out a crash course in spirituality and then use it to overcome your difficulties in life.

    I personally do not believe that rationality can stimulate your survival instinct. In my opinion, it is simply of no use in that context.
  • flannel jesus
    1.7k
    I really could not care less what Islamic doctrine says
  • Tarskian
    301
    I really could not care less what Islamic doctrine saysflannel jesus

    And vice versa. It doesn't care either what you think about it. Hence, the relationship is reciprocally perfectly sound.
  • flannel jesus
    1.7k
    good thing Islam isn't replying to me in this forum then
  • Tarskian
    301
    good thing Islam isn't replying to me in this forum thenflannel jesus

    Abstractions don't reply, I guess. Why would an abstraction do that anyway? It is not even alive to begin with.
  • flannel jesus
    1.7k
    that's right, islamic doctrine is philosophically lifeless
  • Tarskian
    301
    that's right, islamic doctrine is philosophically lifelessflannel jesus

    So is the grass, the birds, and the trees.
  • Vera Mont
    3.8k
    I use rationality merely as a tool. I actually only use it when it suits me and I certainly do not identify with it.Tarskian
    That sums you up nicely. Thanks.
  • Tarskian
    301
    That sums you up nicely. Thanks.Vera Mont
    Since your identity is closely tied to the ultimate reason why you are motivated to stay alive, no matter how hard that sometimes may be, and since there is simply no rational reason for life itself, tying your identity to rationality is in fact a threat to your survival.
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