• Jake
    1.2k
    I don't see how we can conduct a rational analysis of suicide given that we have not the slightest idea of what death is. How does one compare a known to an unknown?

    Which is better? Pizza? Or BfXuide7_xx3?

    It seems to me that all such calculations are faith based and that each person can only operate within the boundaries of whatever faith tradition they subscribe to.
  • TheHedoMinimalist
    85

    I used to think in the past that there could not be any comparison made between life and whatever comes after death also. But, now I think that while it's hard to imagine nonexistence, it could be understood in some capacity. Of course, before assuming that nonexistence comes after life, we have to ask ourselves how we know that this is the case. I think we have pretty good reason to think that our personality, memories, and sensory experiences are all localized somewhere in the brain. A person could lose his memories by a blow to the head, for example. Some people experiences massive personality changes after experiencing brain damage. What's also interesting is that we can lose our memories and alter our personality by taking certain types of chemical substances like LSD, alcohol, cocaine and so on. I think this gives us good reason to think that the source of our consciousness lies in our neurochemistry. A person could also lose his senses through blindness, deafness, paralysis, or smoking too much(in the case of taste senses lol). We don't deny that sensory experiences could be removed through physical means. So, why not think that all of our experiences would be removed if we died? If any individual aspect of our experience could be removed by physical injury or substance consumption, I think it's safe to say that all of our experience of anything would be gone if we died.
    But, how can we know what nonexistence feels like, you might ask. Now, it's hard to imagine what feeling nonexistence would be like since it's almost like an infinite amount of time passing by infinitely fast. But, if you have ever been under general anesthesia you probably know what nonexistence is like at least temporarily. I know technically you couldn't know what general anesthesia feels like because it feels like nothing. But, I think it's imaginable what it's like to feel nothing. You have never been distressed before you were born, for example. You also don't recall feeling any joy prior to existing. These facts could be used to make a pretty relevant comparison between existence and nonexistence, in my opinion.
  • Jake
    1.2k
    These facts could be used to make a pretty relevant comparison between existence and nonexistence, in my opinion.TheHedoMinimalist

    You're expressing a common theory, which I am not in a position to dispute.

    I'm just referencing certain instances when something appeared to be overwhelmingly obviously true beyond doubt, but turned out to be completely wrong. As example, the Earth being at the center of the universe. Everyone could just look up and see this for themselves with their own eyes, so this conclusion seemed to be beyond theory, a hard fact. Like these earlier humans, we really have no way of evaluating our perspective on such matters. So...

    You might be right, you might be wrong. My best guess is that whatever the reality might be it's beyond our imagination at the moment, just as the size of the universe would have been incomprehensible to earlier peoples (and basically still is). But of course, this too is just a guess.
  • Jake
    1.2k
    Here's another guess. Check out this documentary about DMT on YouTube. Some quite interesting experiences and speculation regarding the larger context of our existence.

    Many, perhaps most, people will dismiss these reports as being nothing more than drug induced illusions, which of course might be true. But then we'll have to dismiss all my posts too, given that I typically write them while high on caffeine.
  • unenlightened
    3.1k
    I don't see how we can conduct a rational analysis of suicide given that we have not the slightest idea of what death is. How does one compare a known to an unknown?Jake

    One doesn't. But every life ends with death, so the unknown appears on both sides of the comparison and can be cancelled out.

    One is left with a shorter and a longer life to compare, and the quality of the extra life is crucial.
  • TheHedoMinimalist
    85

    I agree that we can't know for sure if any fact is true. There's the black swan problem, of course. But unless we want to be skeptical about every decision we make in our lives, we have to take educated guesses. For example, I might ask, how can we compare your life if you decide to get a PH.D. in philosophy vs if you decide to become a nurse instead. If we have to have epistemological certainty about the outcomes of both decisions in order to be able to decide on the merits of each, then we can't make any decision in our lives. We might as well sit in a corner and rock in the fetal position obsessing about how we can't know anything lol. In the case of the suicidal person, the person has a decision to make and he has to rely on whatever knowledge he has to guess if it will be a good decision or not. Either way you're taking a risk though. If you commit suicide, you risk being put into a worse state. If you don't commit suicide, then you risk experiencing more suffering in life.
  • Jake
    1.2k
    One is left with a shorter and a longer life to compare, and the quality of the extra life is crucial.unenlightened

    The amount of life, and the quality of that life, don't matter so much if for example, one is going to spend eternity in heaven. Your analysis is based on the "death is bad" assumption which can't be justified by much of anything.
  • Jake
    1.2k
    In the case of the suicidal person, the person has a decision to make and he has to rely on whatever knowledge he has to guess if it will be a good decision or not.TheHedoMinimalist

    But he doesn't have any knowledge about death, nobody does. All we have is a circus of competing speculations.
  • TheHedoMinimalist
    85
    But he doesn't have any knowledge about death, nobody does. All we have is a circus of competing speculations.Jake

    I was using the word "knowledge" in that in my last comment as a synonym for "evidence". I'm sorry for not being 100% clear about that in my first comment. The difference between knowledge and evidence is that knowledge implies a certainty by which something is true while evidence implies a reasonable belief that something is true. My argument is that you don't need knowledge but rather just evidence to analyze and compare 2 possible value-relevant(by value-relevant, I mean that it falls on a spectrum of good and bad) configurations . In your earlier comment, you pointed out the problems of having empirical evidence being called factual knowledge by pointing out that we believed with what was considered good empirical evidence that the Earth was the center of the universe. Later we attained new empirical evidence that it is not the center of universe. You then used that example to make an analogy between my belief that there is no afterlife and the belief held by people in the past that the Earth was the Center of the Universe. Since, the suicidal person cannot have factual knowledge that there is no afterlife, he therefore cannot not make a reasonable decision is your next argument.
    But, I want to point out the implications of the position that you hold. Under your view, no person could make a reasonable decision of any kind because there is no hard factual knowledge of any kind since every scientific/empirical theory or fact that we have could be falsified if we find what is called a "black swan". A black swan constitutes any empirical evidence that contradicts an existing scientific fact or theory. For example, we might believe that Earth is the 3rd planet from the Sun, but if scientists discover a new planet between Venus and Mercury, that scientific fact would no longer be true. Any scientific/empirical discovery we have made could be false and many of them will be false. But, if one cannot make a reasonable decision without knowledge(AKA something certain to be true), then one cannot make any decision in life reasonably. Some philosophers are willing to accept that conclusion. I, on the other hand, believe that there's a spectrum of reasonableness that could be discerned based on relevant evidence(AKA empirical observations and reasonable hypotheses on the basis of these observations) surrounding a particular decision-making case that allows us to conclude that some people have acted better than others in the decision-making case. For example, if a suicidal person decides not to commit suicide because he has no effective way of doing so, he would be making a wise decision. That is because we have good reason to think that the suicide attempt will fail and that he will suffer more because of that, even though we have no knowledge that his suicide attempt would fail or that he would suffer more.
  • Waya
    945
    I think it represents the capitulation of human will in face of nature's oppression on all living beings. The cause of suffering is that we are aware of our existence. When we can't find meaning to existence despite being conscious to it, it creates a self contradiction - a "lack of meaning". Your body follows the mind in this, your brain changes itself if this is repeated. The reason we find it so terrifying is because if you have a meaning, or you still have hope of finding it, it discourages you from the chance of success, chipping away the hope. Not to mention the fact that we all will die, so there is a strong empathy we will with almost everyone who dies, even if they were considered bad. Overall, I see the inevitableness of death as the best reason not to give up hope: why hurry, when you still have time to find meaning?Fortress of Solitude

    Perhaps meaning is something that one doesn't care for, as the meaning may be percieved as hurtful.


    Suicidal thoughts are confessed to be bad because at large the people are often considering other things in regards to their own survival; not their death. So usually I come to see that the people at large tend to concentrate on matters that regard their own survival and existance. Anything that goes against this is trash and wasteful. This then causes people with suicidal thoughts to feel even worse about their situation, in all situations to be considered ill-minded when in all reality it is simply a consequence of being an intelligent self-aware individual.

    Not to mention the fact that many cannot and will not debate their own existance. Many even here claim that suicide comes from an illness but it is all the contrary. Narcissist fear death the most, next to psychopaths, etc.
    Emmanuele

    That makes sense. Many people simply don't understand it. It is kinda sad though that some people's best argument is that if the individual commits suicide is that it would make them seem like a bad friend, parent, and so forth.

    It's wrong because it's murder. You don't have that right. It is conceivably worse than murder in long term contribution to death toll through influence. There are three times the suicides as there are murders, implying that it is more contagious.

    You are punishing yourself due to some unfulfilled desire, goal, or dream, and it is the losing and clinging to hope of this subpersonality which is punishing the shit out of you, and threatening your murder for your failure to fulfill it. It's what needs offing. It's what needs severing, abandoning, killing. Let it die. Don't let it do that to you.

    Pray for help.
    All sight
    Intersting perspective.


    We often tend to think of a rational suicide as committed by a calm mannered person who had realized on the basis of philosophical inquiry that life is not worth continuing. While an irrational suicide is one that we labeled as caused by a mental illness and therefore some of us think we are morally justified in violating the autonomy of that type of suicidal person because we ought to treat some adults like children. I tend to think the most "irrational" suicides are actually the most rational ones. If you are mentally ill and suffering because of your depression, anxiety, or PTSD, you have a better reason for killing yourself than the intellectual who thinks he derived truth about the futility of existence.
    As far as the issue of autonomy goes, I do think it is wrong to prevent a suicide from happening in many cases. The justification that because some people are not in their right mind because of mental illness and therefore cannot exercise their autonomy doesn't seem to work for several reasons:
    1. Mental illness is a social construct on some level. That is not to say that it's not "real" but rather that the line between a healthy and a mentally ill individual is arbitrarily drawn. Why not raise or lower the bar for what constitutes mental illness? Why not say that the majority of people in our society are mentally ill? We can't simply claim that someone is wrong about their desire to die because our society deems it wrong. We have to have a demonstration of why we have strong reason to think that existence is better than nonexistence. I don't believe that we have that strong reason.
    2. Should all people perceived as irrational lose their autonomy? If we use the reasonableness of a person as a marker of "maturity sufficient for autonomy", then should we also be justified in violating the autonomy of anyone we deem as not capable of making good decisions? If someone wants to be irresponsible and spend his life gambling, drinking, doing drugs, and having sex with hookers, then are we justified in violating his autonomy for his own sake? I think it's more reasonable to commit suicide under great suffering from mental illness than it is to gamble away your life savings. But I think we can agree that we should respect the autonomy of the irresponsible people because we think most consenting adults have a right to autonomy without much exception. I think it's safe to say most suicidal people are reasonable enough to fit the category of adults that should be able to act accordingly to their wishes.
    3. A person who is suffering from mental illness paradoxically has a good reason to commit suicide. You might suppose that not seeking help for that mental illness first is irrational but let's face us: we don't know how to effectively treat mental illnesses.
    TheHedoMinimalist

    So basically you are saying that the suicidal person ought to be free to fulfil that desire?
  • All sight
    333


    They are free to fulfill that desire, no one can really stop you, but you'll still be dropping all of your burden, and making everyone you love take it on without your help. It can be sane if people like, but it is nowhere approaching anything but self-centered.
  • TheHedoMinimalist
    85
    basically you are saying that the suicidal person ought to be free to fulfil that desire?Waya

    For the most part, I think there should either be some acceptable legal way one can be painlessly euthanized without having a terminal illness or we should have minimal rights to prevent suicides. I also think that if you see an unconscious person who has attempted suicide, then perhaps it is bad to prevent that suicide from being successful.(it obviously depends on the situation though. If the suicide attempt is clearly unsuccessful, then it might be better to take the person to the hospital. That wouldn't really count as preventing a suicide though.)
  • Emmanuele
    20
    That makes sense. Many people simply don't understand it. It is kinda sad though that some people's best argument is that if the individual commits suicide is that it would make them seem like a bad friend, parent, and so forth.Waya

    Yeah so we said that Suicidal thoughts are natural however they're probably not healthy in concerns of 'keeping you alive' but it deepens your thoughts and creates new values.

    So when someone of your family blames you for suicide they're just trying to extend their nihilism on to you. If people actually would put some thought on their existance they would comprehend your position and let you free to do whatever you wanted or even better, they'll probably give you a logical reason to why you shouldn't do it. Instead they do this crap which is rather insulting to your intelligence. It's just how it is.

    My view on the common sense concerning this topic is that many people stick to primal ideals. They only try to satisfy their physical needs. The intellect is often left to rotten just for the sake of being happy and unperturbed
  • Waya
    945
    Hmm. Maybe we should work more on figuring out how to treat these illnesses.
    Yes, I think it does deepen how one thinks, exploring the depths of the mind.
    Yeah, it isn't very convincing when people give selfish responses to "prevent" suicide.
  • TheHedoMinimalist
    85
    Hmm. Maybe we should work more on figuring out how to treat these illnesses.Waya

    Well, that's easier said than done. I don't deny that we should study suicidal behavior and figure out ways to alleviate suffering which typically causes suicidal ideation. But unlike "curing" suicidal ideation which requires time and effort, respecting the autonomy of suicidal people requires no effort. If life gets good enough that no people ever want to commit suicide, there would be no need to argue about this controversial issue. I think we can both agree that such utopian future isn't likely to come about any time soon.
    I think the last part of your comment describes one of the reason why I think we are so bad at treating suicide ideation. We treat it like it is a symptom of an illness when we should be treating it like an understandable response to life's suffering. That's not to say that suicide is an ideal option and that there aren't obvious drawbacks to it. Rather we shouldn't automatically assume that if someone finds the idea of no longer existing appealing, that there must be something wrong with their head and that justifies us forcing the person to remain alive. We typically use the category of mental illness to denote any behavior that impedes functionality and that's useful in the context of identifying dysfunctional behavior which can cause a person to suffer or cause other people to suffer. Often times, dysfunctional behavior arises from immense mental suffering and it leads to more mental suffering once the original suffering triggers the dysfunctional behavior. It then becomes an inescapable feedback loop and, understandably, the victim of this hell will do anything to escape it. It's like they have been tortured beyond their last capacity to cope. Of course, since suicidal ideation is dysfunctional, it fits the criteria of belonging to the category of the mentally ill. But criticizing suicide for being a dysfunctional activity is missing the point of suicide to begin with. One does not need to be functional if one no longer exists. Therefore, calling suicide ideation a byproduct of a mental illness is like accusing a stripper of sexual harassment during a lap dance. The whole point of suicide is to try to be free from having to function in the world, just like the whole point of a lap dance is to "sexually harass" a willing patron. Having said that, I think there are more effective ways of discouraging suicide:

    1. Treat suicide like it is an understandable life decision but convince the suicidal person that it is more likely to escalate their suffering rather than reduce it. Suicide attempts are extremely likely to fail and when they fail, you descend into a deeper level of hell that you didn't even think existed.

    2. Provide social support to the suicidal person. Lots of people commit suicide because they have no one to help them with their suffering.
  • Waya
    945
    Very true. It is based on the other's perception that life is better than non-life; life is but an illusion based on one's perceptions.
    I think one of the main (but not the main reason) that I have not committed suicide nor have any attempts is because that so many fail and end up causing more misery. Thankfully, I have not been able to perfect a plan, because then I would probably succeed... also the same reason I struggle to stop thinking about it because OCD says I have to perfect everything... :shade:
    As for social support, sometimes that's really not enough for some people. Often, it is lack of self-direction and a broken will, at least in my case. Lots of my friends have tried to help me with it, but the struggle is still there.
  • TheHedoMinimalist
    85

    Well, I wish you my sincere luck with your struggle. I agree that social support might often not be enough. I personally find that the advice that the Stoic philosophers like Epictitus and Seneca have taught can be extremely useful in dealing with difficult situations in life and in regulating emotions. I also found Epicurean philosophy helpful in learning how to avoid unnecessary suffering in life and getting rid of unhelpful habits. But the advice given by Epicurus is pretty controversial. His views on death could intensify suicidal ideation. Nonetheless, he is a philosopher you can read and understand in like an hour or two. He encourages people to avoid unnecessary luxury and to not make a huge fuzz over minor and unnecessary things. I heard that learning how to meditate could be useful also. I haven't seriously tried meditation though so I don't really know about that. Finally, I heard some people benefit from psychedelics and it cures them of their suicide ideation. I would use that as the last resort though and ideally you would want to find someone who knows how to use psychedelics in a more therapeutic rather than recreational way.
  • Waya
    945
    Perhaps, except that I over-regulate emotions and end up suppressing them to a dangerous extent. Soon as I get things situated, going to try some meds I think...
  • Josh Alfred
    68
    I have been helping people cope with suicidal ideation for many years. It is certainly waya said, "clouded judgement." I like to help see that they are searching for a way out of the current conditions, they are seeking a change in their lives, and that suicide is short cut out of their unwanted circumstances. Once you see it like this, you will try to form a better strategy, that is more rational, but requires more work than just having "get out now/suicidal ideation".
  • Not
    22
    It did not always carry an onus. In fact, the ancients often lauded it. Think of Decius Mus and Cato. Every other treatise by Seneca gushes about the wonders of Cato's suicide. Half the philosophers in Diogenes Laetius' text suicide when they are "done." Diogenes the Cynic talked of many women hanging from trees. There was nobility in it if done right, at the right time, for the right reason.

    On the other hand, St Augustine pleads for the women who had been violated by the visigoths NOT to end their lives.

    Those are just a few , scant examples to display that there have been many views and voices over many, many years.
  • TheMadFool
    2.9k
    Many people struggle with suicidal thoughts and it is often condemned as something terrible, even by those who do not profess any religion. What causes this to be considered wrong?Waya

    I don't know.

    Perhaps the notion of life being a ''gift'' from God or, in the Buddhist sense, the best opportunity for nirvana might explain why suicide is considered bad.

    In a sense it means this life is not ours to do what we wish with it. Few would argue that we could do whatever we want with something that is not ours. It kinda dovetails into a more secular perspective of social existence. We live for others and they, in turn, live for us. So, suicide would be violating this agreement.

    The above perspective makes complete sense when we consider how sacrificing one's life for another is valued as heroic and almost encouraged of us. The ''agreement'' that your life is best spent or, in this case, given up, for others isn't transgressed.

    Also, someone may choose suicide due to factors that could be remedied if only the person had realized it. This means some suicides are ''aviodable'' and therefore an irrational choice. Since suicide itself is an irreversible process we would like to prevent the ones that are ''avoidable/irrational''. So, perhaps, we opt to err on the side of caution and brand ALL suicides as ''bad''.

    Euthanasia comes to mind and it should be allowed because certain medical conditions may be impossibly difficult to bear. Death would be a welcome relief in such cases and it's not immoral or bad to assist someone who has exhausted all options in life due to a known condition that is both unbearable and incurable.
  • TheHedoMinimalist
    85
    In a sense it means this life is not ours to do what we wish with it. Few would argue that we could do whatever we want with something that is not ours. It kinda dovetails into a more secular perspective of social existence. We live for others and they, in turn, live for us. So, suicide would be violating this agreement.

    The above perspective makes complete sense when we consider how sacrificing one's life for another is valued as heroic and almost encouraged of us. The ''agreement'' that your life is best spent or, in this case, given up, for others isn't transgressed.
    TheMadFool

    While I do think that your friends and family do give you some reason not to commit suicide, I find it hard to imagine that we have made an agreement to continue living our lives for the sake of others. For one thing, it seems like an agreement requires an agreer. That is to say, in order for someone to be violating an agreement to continue living, he would of had to agree to uphold the agreement in the first place. Since nobody chooses to be born or signs an actual contract agreeing to not commit suicide, it seems difficult to argue that there’s any kind of agreement in place. I suppose you could argue that as long as you are living in a society, you have to abide by the rules of that society. But that just means that it is permissible for you to commit suicide if you decide to move away to a deserted island. As far as any agreement made to a divine being not to commit suicide, I find it hard to imagine how it would be justified for a God to have me be born without my permission and then punish me for violating an agreement to continue living my life that I never agreed to. Having said that, I’m glad we can at least agree that euthanasia should be allowed and that it is not immoral to provide it.
  • TheMadFool
    2.9k
    I suppose you could argue that as long as you are living in a society, you have to abide by the rules of that society. But that just means that it is permissible for you to commit suicide if you decide to move away to a deserted islandTheHedoMinimalist

    Biologically, we fear death. No animal other than humans commits suicide. Even among us those who fear death vastly outnumber those who kill themselves.

    Perhaps the answer to your question can be found in this curious state of affairs.

    Are animals too dumb to realize that sometimes death is the best option?

    Or

    Are humans so smart as to realize that death, sometimes, is the best option?

    I saw an animation movie about cave people in prehistoric times (sorry I don't remember the name) and in it the daugther replies to her over-protective father who won't let her explore the world with ''Dad, there's a difference between not dying and living.''

    As you can see, life, human life, has acquired a new dimension over that of animals. Life is not just about breathing, eating, reproducing. Life has to be a certain way which agrees with an individual's worldview, tastes, hopes, etc. When these ''extra'' conditions of life aren't met then depression and suicidal thoughts may arise.
  • Noah Te Stroete
    621
    Suicide may or may not be morally wrong depending on the circumstances. It is not unforgivable, though, in my humble opinion.
  • Oriana
    3
    Depression is still an enigma to the scientific world -- from why it affects some people and not others, why it is resistant to treatment in some people and not others, and what initiates it in some people and not others. For those who reach the point where it negatively impacts every moment of their lives, and removes all hope, joy, and peace -- why are they not "allowed" to end their pain and suffering when, how, and where they choose? An intelligent and civilized society would embrace suicide as a personal choice and civil right. People would not expect a loved one to live in mental anguish just to please them. Intentions would be announced and accepted. Goodbyes’ would happen in a loving and intelligent manner. The act would be peaceful and completed with dignity.

    Unfortunately, our fear of death and our intrinsic selfishness precludes the vast majority of us loving anyone enough to put their needs first when it comes to letting go.
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