• simmerdown
    19
    I've been struggling for many years with thoughts about suicide, but my case is peculiar in that I desperately want to live. I realize that if we take a literalist conception of non-existence seriously, then non-existence can't be better, worse, nor the same as existence. We all (irrationally) project something onto nothing when thinking about the outcome of our death, when there really is no outcome. So by this logic, there is no point in suicide, yet no point in living. Yet, when I play out thought experiments in my head, I seem to attribute some value to life. For example, if I were to choose between a day of torture or being exempt from it via a dreamless sleep where I perceive nothing (i.e., as soon as I close my eyes, I instantaneously jump to my next waking moment), I would choose the latter option. Conversely, given the option between a day filled with pleasure and the aforementioned sleep, I would choose the former. I understand the arguments of avoiding suicide because the actual process of dying sucks, but I don't find it a sufficient enough argument to justify continued existence. I also realize I would hurt many people by taking my own life so, but as selfish as it sounds, there would be no "me" to realize the consequences of my actions. Honestly, I think what keeps me alive is my irrational survival instinct and the possibility that there might be something after death (e.g., afterlife, reincarnation, etc.). This has created an incredibly difficult life for me, and I regularly fall into depressive episodes (for which I've been seeking help). Has anyone grappled similar issues? If so, how did you cope and continue living a fulfilling life?.
  • Bitter Crank
    7.6k
    I've been struggling for many years with thoughts about suicide, but my case is peculiar in that I desperately want to live.simmerdown

    You apparently are suffering from a chronic condition. You have learned how to live with it -- else you might have committed suicide years ago. I'm glad that you are still with us.

    This has created an incredibly difficult life for me, and I regularly fall into depressive episodes (for which I've been seeking help)simmerdown

    Just guessing, but your depression probably came first, and causes your feelings of despair. Stick with therapy. Depression is a bitch, for sure. Try to do the usual self-help stuff that people always suggest: Take care of your physical health; eat regularly, get some exercise, do what you can to get quality sleep; maintain friendships (or at least regular social contacts). Yeah, I know -- when you are depressed, this stuff is hard to do. Try, anyway.

    as selfish as it sounds, there would be no "me" to realize the consequences of my actionssimmerdown

    True, there would be no "you" afterward, but there is a "you" before it happens, and that "you" is running the show.

    Are you taking antidepressants? Do they help? (Don't just stop taking them because they don't seem to be working). Talk therapy? Cognitive Behavioral Therapy? Is it helping?

    Is there something about your life that is adding a steady drip of unhappiness? Like a bad job, bad relationship, poverty, disability, alcoholism... stuff like that?

    Are you involved in any support groups for depression? (not a cure, you may not like groups; they can be a useful source of info on doctors that are better or worse, and can be sounding board...)

    Welcome to The Philosophy Forum.
  • RosettaStoned
    29
    I suffer similar (though not the same) thoughts that you do daily, and one thing that helps is that we know for a fact what life is like, as we are experiencing it (maybe.) But we don't know what death is like. If I were to kill myself, and death turn out to be worse than life, then I would have made a grave mistake, and be in for a probable eternity of suffering. We have no idea how a "soul", if you believe in one, experiences emotions or the like. It isn't worth the gamble, in my opinion. Though I have thought differently before, those are because of outside reasons that do not correlate to this situation. I hope this helps.
  • Wallows
    7.5k


    Forgive me if I assume too much; but, I get the feeling in the sense that you're trying to express the inescapability of your condition, hence you feel despairing. Fighting with depression is like pulling on a Chinese finger trap. There's no point in fighting with it head-on/directly. There are better ways to deal with it indirectly. Instead of focusing on it too intently, shift your thoughts to things that give you comfort and happiness. Such, as feeling appreciative for the things you have. Don't compare yourself to others in that they are happier or without (seemingly) any problems that you have. Everyone has some problems they deal with and there's really nothing good that result from unfair comparisons, such as envy/jealousy/and such.

    0rd8eba009hpuyz1.jpg
  • Andrew4Handel
    1.1k
    I don't know if wanting to die is the same as wanting to cease to exist.

    Death seems like it could be a pain killer but if you are dead then you won't get to experience the effect of the pain killer.
  • leo
    215


    I think the desires and beliefs we have are closely linked to the mental state we're in. If you desire something strongly but believe you can never attain it, then you feel hopeless, depressed. Suicide doesn't feel like such a bad option compared to living a life that is bound to contradict the life we want. But what if the belief that you can never attain what you deeply desire is false? There's something that's keeping you there, there is a strong will that doesn't want you to die, trying to tell you that you can achieve what you want deep down, but you need to believe that you can.

    I think it's the depressed people who can create a better world, not those who feel fine amidst this madness. Maybe the cure to depression is changing the world so that it stops being depression-inducing. We all have beliefs about what can and can't be changed, but maybe many of them are just false.
  • NKBJ
    907
    Honestly, I think what keeps me alive is my irrational survival instinct and the possibility that there might be something after death (e.g., afterlife, reincarnation, etc.). This has created an incredibly difficult life for me, and I regularly fall into depressive episodes (for which I've been seeking help)simmerdown

    You've got it backwards. Suicide is an irrational thing to do.
    Your depression is messing with your ability to think clearly, and there's no way to "logic" your way out of mental illness.
    Seek professional help, use your meds as directed, and please always keep in mind that thoughts driving you to self-harm are not coming from the coherent, sane, logical part of you.

    To the mods: I'm not sure how great of an idea it is to let this kind of thread go on too much. We're not professionals and I fear we'll do more harm than good if people commenting seriously (or just for kicks) entertain suicide as a viable option for someone who is clearly dealing with mental issues beyond our control and expertise.
  • leo
    215
    We're not professionals and I fear we'll do more harm than good if people commenting seriously (or just for kicks) entertain suicide as a viable option for someone who is clearly dealing with mental issues beyond our control and expertise.NKBJ

    I think mental health practice would benefit greatly from an in-depth critical philosophical analysis. Mental health professionals are not bearers of inscrutable truth.
  • NKBJ
    907


    We're amateurs dabbling around and this is a person in acute and chronic need of psychological help.
  • Joshs
    565
    I agree with Leo. Honor the choice that simmerdown made to open their views up to discussion here.If it appears that contributions by others to the discussion become obviously harmful, then a moderator could make a decision at that point. What I've read so far it seems to me has been thoughtful and supportive, and a counter to the isolation that tends to accompany profound sadness. it also wouldnt hurt to explore ways of thinking about sadness challenging its knee-jerk medicalization.
  • NKBJ
    907


    Someone has already suggested death as a painkiller.

    You have no idea what someone is going to do with your listing the pro's and con's of suicide.

    This is irresponsible.
  • Joshs
    565
    Oh fer Chrissakes. You don't think the op, as articulate and thoughtful as they sound, hasnt thought about the pros and cons of suicide? Their comment, in fact, specifically discusses the pros and cons. Your own contribution, labeling its very consideration as 'irrational', was intended as helpful but could be interpreted as alienating and thus have the opposite of its intended effect. You might respond that that validates your point about the need to shut off discussion. I don't think most psychiatric professionals would steer troubled clients away from online depression support groups, which are , of course, populated by amateurs. There is psychological therapy and then there is philosophical therapy. There are many here for whom these discussions serve as philosophical therapy. As I said , I'm not advocating un-moderated discussion.
    If the moderators on this site are not able to closely follow threads, then maybe it would be easier to simply declare certain topics off-limits(I imagine there may be legal issues for whoever runs this group to consider). Otherwise, there would need to be some agreement on what would constitute triggering or trolling.
  • NKBJ
    907


    For chrissakes yourself. Depression is an irrational state of mind. So no matter how thoughtful the OP is otherwise, his or her actions could be triggered by anything we say or do. So, yes, I think a thread where the OP is openly contemplating suicide shouldn't be allowed and anyone attempting to post such a thing should immediately be directed towards seeking irl help from non-anonymous sources where long-term solutions and relief can be found.
  • Joshs
    565
    There are two parts to your comment . The second part, concerning policy toward those openly contemplating suicide on this site, may be open to debate, but I don't see it as an unreasonable approach given what I've said above.
    So let's leave simmerdown out of the discussion now and just talk you and me about the first part of your comment, "Depression is an irrational state of mind" (If you're more comfortable, we could move this discussion elsewhere). There is absolutely no consensus on this issue within the psychological , psychiatric or philosophical communities. So you shouldn't take it as an empirical 'fact' but as a contested hypothesis. There was a time when cognitive therapy articulated reasoning within an rational-irrational binary, but they have mostly discarded this position in favor of seeing behavior as adaptive or unadaptive relative to one's own aims. In other words, depression not as false or irrational representations of an independently existing objective world, but depression as a failure to adaptively cope within one's own subjective world of aims and goals. Mindfulness approaches , which have gained in popularity recently, also take this non rationalistic view of depression.
  • darthbarracuda
    2.9k
    Has anyone grappled similar issues? If so, how did you cope and continue living a fulfilling life?.simmerdown

    Yes, but it seems to me that non-existence can never be a bad thing for someone. One must exist to be harmed. And, as my thought process goes, if non-existence can not be a bad thing for someone, then it must be a good thing for them. And if there is nothing wrong with non-existence, and there are things wrong with existing, then it is in our best interests to facilitate the transition between existence and non-existence, even if we have a strong desire to continue to live.

    However, a powerful primal panic inside of me squirms in revulsion to this idea, and the clarity of its expression is eventually fragmented so that I am only dimly aware of its existence as I go about my day-to-day life. I have learned that the mind is not the master but the slave, and that believing we are in control brings more harm than good. The logic of death does not mix with the illogic of life. That is how I see the affirmation of life: an illogic that doesn't make sense. But then again, nothing really makes sense if you think about it long enough. Once you get used to the illogicity of everything, things get a little easier and you grow comfortable with the madness. Nothing that exists has any significance at all, because it all gets annihilated in the end and the memories are forgotten. Everything that exists might as well not.

    The state of the enlightened ones is a perpetual apathy to everything and a cosmic indifference to their own existences. A state of non-action, because action is the fruit of illusion, and life is the illusion. This is why they do not commit suicide.
  • simmerdown
    19
    As some of you have put it, I think this is more a matter of philosophical therapy than psychological therapy. I'm fully aware that life can be filled with wonderful things and that depression isn't forever. I've learned various therapeutic approaches over the years (my degree is in psychology). I think @darthbarracuda is closer to the line of thinking I'm getting at.
  • Wallows
    7.5k
    I think darthbarracuda is closer to the line of thinking I'm getting at.simmerdown

    Can you expand on it? I think his post was interesting for a number of reasons; but, ultimately self-refuting.
  • simmerdown
    19
    @Wallows we can place certain values on life, such as life is good or bad. However, does it make sense to say that we are better off living a good life than committing suicide? There cannot be a consequence of suicide, as there will be no you to experience the aftermath. It's impossible for us not to project some sort of subjective state into the outcome of suicide, even if we know this state won't be "correct." So then, death is neither good nor bad for you. Can we equate this to it having neutral value? I'm not sure, but my gut instinct says no. Rather, it makes sense to equate death with having no value, which is something different altogether. For me, it makes no sense to commit suicide, but it also makes no sense to continue living. Ultimately, my survival instinct, and not knowing if there might be some sort of afterlife are what's keeping me alive. I'm aware I would hurt those around me, but as selfish as it sounds, if death is annihilation, then there would be no me to even realize the hurt I've caused.
  • Wallows
    7.5k
    we can place certain values on life, such as life is good or bad.simmerdown

    [...] but, thinking makes it so?

    I suspect that if we are going to address issues pertaining to the propositional attitude we have towards life, then we ought to examine the process of thinking about it. If one has distorted conceptions of life, such that death is no better than living, which by all means is a highly subjective statement to make, then we ought to consult with other people about what they think also, yes?
  • simmerdown
    19
    I agree, which is why I started this thread. I want to be given a rational argument to convince me out of my beliefs, because regardless of whether it's a product of my survival instinct, I want to live. It's just incredibly difficult to do so when I don't have a logical justification.
  • Wallows
    7.5k
    I want to be given a rational argument to convince me out of my beliefs, because regardless of whether it's a product of my survival instinct, I want to live. It's just incredibly difficult to do so when I don't have a logical justification.simmerdown

    There really isn't a conceived criteria that would justify living, unless one were to think in terms of an exclusively binary situation. I feel as though it's a mistake to think in terms of finding a reason to live, when it all depends on what you value most.
  • Valentinus
    357
    I want to live. It's just incredibly difficult to do so when I don't have a logical justification.simmerdown

    As you have noted, the death you are able to bring about does not belong to you. Perhaps your life doesn't belong to you either. The agency that permits you to bring about an intended result makes sense in the context of realizing what not doing something will likely cause to happen. "Something like: If I don't plant these seeds in the next few weeks, we will starve later on in the year." Or: "To build this house, I will need to gather materials and act in a planned sequence." Life is not the result of that kind of deliberation. Observing there is something like an instinct for survival does not mean life has no purpose of its own. To frame it in that way is a judgement, not an investigation. I do think it is important to affirm life to keep on living but disagree with Camus that it passes through the agency to end it.

    The capacity to end it exists. To deliberate upon using this power is to use death to attain a purpose. You won't get to own it later but it can achieve an end. This can range from a cessation of personal suffering to deliberately harming other people. In some societies, it can be a way to maintain status after some failure or loss of favor occurs. It is a kind of predicate.
  • NKBJ
    907
    I want to live. It's just incredibly difficult to do so when I don't have a logical justification.simmerdown

    Your logical justification is that you want to. That's all there is to it. Life offers everything, the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly. Death offers you nothing. It's pointless and stupid.

    If you're searching for some objective meaning to your life, there is none. It's what you make it mean to yourself and to others.

    In the case that you have at least one single person (human or animal) who gives a darn about your existence, then you have the social obligation to live and not cause them the undue suffering of grieving over you.
  • leo
    215
    I want to live. It's just incredibly difficult to do so when I don't have a logical justification.simmerdown

    But then, why do you so badly need a logical justification to do something?

    You go grocery shopping because you expect to get something you want there. Then what's the logical justification behind wanting something? It's not logic that makes you want something in the first place, and indeed you see that since you want to live but have no logical justification for it. There is no logical justification to wants that are not a result of a logical reasoning but that preceded it.

    It is wanting that leads to doing. If you didn't want anything, I could argue you wouldn't do anything, that you wouldn't exist at all. You have a will moving you, going somewhere, seemingly nowhere, but maybe there's a point to it all in the end.
  • simmerdown
    19
    It's more akin to "why do I want to do this?" If instinct is driving me to do it, why am I following my instinct?
  • leo
    215


    Sometimes we can find logical justifications to why we want such or such thing, someone may want to become a movie star because they want to be admired, or because they want to be like someone they admire. Then we may ask why do they want to be admired? There it's a bit trickier, we could say one wants to be admired because the idea of it makes them feel good, they believe that it will make them feel good, and they want to feel good. Then we may ask why does one want to feel good? But when you feel good you see precisely why you want to feel good, there is no logical justification needed for the feeling itself is the justification. When you experience the feeling of love for something or someone you don't need a logical justification for it, experiencing it justifies itself, it's where you want to be and it makes it all worth it.

    One could say depression is precisely the lack of experiencing such feelings. When we feel like shit chronically and believe it's not gonna get any better then we don't see the point in anything. It's not a rational justification that gives meaning to one's life, it's a feeling that is experienced. And by focusing too much on rationality and logic we miss the fact that we are beings who feel. You're looking for a rational justification behind why you want to live, but why would a rational justification suddenly make your life worth living? You have put rationality on a pedestal such that if you find a rational justification then it makes you feel good, but again I would say it's the underlying feeling that gives the justification, rather than merely saying "I want to live because it helps me attain X". X is not a justification unless it is something you want, unless you experience the feeling of wanting it.

    So why do you want to live? For everything that you want that living helps you attain. When there are things you want the answer is obvious, when you don't want anything the answer doesn't exist. But you desperately want to live, you said so yourself, so this is telling me that there are things you want out of life, but somehow you've become disconnected from them. Maybe you had dreams when you were a kid, and something killed them, but they're still there buried somewhere and they're what make you want to live. Then the real question becomes how do you reconnect to them. What was your life like, and how did you get to where you are now?
  • simmerdown
    19
    I don't disagree that life can be filled with wonderful things, and I know I'm certainly capable of experiencing them again. My issue is more about whether the value of life holds up when we compare it to nonexistence. As previously mentioned, we always picture some sort of subjective state in nonexistence, when this is a logical impossibility. It is easy to imagine nonexistence as being somehow neutral or bad compared to life, but how can we say that? There won't be a me to know any difference between life and death when I'm gone. As such, trying to obtain the good things out of life doesn't motivate me more than ending my life, because it won't put me into a better state of affairs.
  • Michael Ossipoff
    1.7k
    I've been struggling for many years with thoughts about suicide, but my case is peculiar in that I desperately want to live. I realize that if we take a literalist conception of non-existence seriously, then non-existence can't be better,simmerdown

    There won't be any nonexistence. If that's your goal with suicide, forget it.

    You'll never experience a time when you aren't. There'll be ever-deepening sleep, and its starting-character (but you don't know how long that will seem like) will be heavily adversely influenced by you in a suicide.

    (...but physically-medically-necessary self-deliverance isn't suicide.)

    ...yet no point in living.

    Life doesn't and needn't have a point. Without starting a metaphysical issue, your life is just a fact to be dealt-with. You didn't consciously choose it, but that's now beside the point.

    ...sufficient enough argument to justify continued existence.

    As I said, even at death, nonexistence will never arrive, and is a false-hope.

    I think what keeps me alive is my irrational survival instinct and the possibility that there might be something after death (e.g., afterlife, reincarnation, etc.).

    Of course existence and experience don't end at death. I suggest that there's (probably for most people) reincarnation, but we needn't agree on that, and the first sentence of this paragraph doesn't depend on reincarnation.

    What kept me alive in highschool was the fact that I didn't want an uncomfortable death, or the risk of being "rescued" with non-fatal damage.

    ...but also uncertainly about what would come next.

    However it happened (I suggest that we and our lives are an inevitable part of an inevitably spontaneous abstract logical-system that we might as well just accept), of course you're here, and there isn't and needn't be a point to iife. So just enjoy it while it lasts (and it's temporary). There are things that you like.

    Michael Ossipoff
    6 W (South-Solstice WeekDate Calendar)

    (...Wednesday of week 6 of the calendar-year starting with the Monday starting closest to the South-Solstice)
  • leo
    215


    What I was getting at is that when you do experience the wonderful things you don't see ending your life as a better state of affairs. When you do experience them you want to enjoy them as long as possible before falling into a state of non-existence. And I would say that if you don't see how you're better off by keeping on living then that's because your life is filled with too much suffering and too little joy. When you don't experience these things you don't see what you see when you experience them and what you miss by not living them.
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