Is suicide morally or ethically wrong?

Discussion in 'Comparative Studies' started by Vajradhara, Aug 18, 2008.

  1. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste all,

    well.. that's the question :) not much more to it than that.

    i'd be keen to hear your reasoning for why you think it either is or is not morally or ethically wrong. perhaps it's morally but not ethically wrong or vice verse?

    metta,

    ~v
     
  2. 17th Angel

    17th Angel לבעוט את התחת ולקחת שמות

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    What's your take?
     
  3. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Interesting question.

    I think it a shame when one gets distraught enough to perform this action and then we decide to chastise them for the action and not determine/attempt to rectify the issue(s) that caused.

    To me the act is not the issue, but the events leading to it which need mor understanding.

    The whole euthenasia thing I understand with folks, but have huge concerns that when it is sanctioned the moral/ethical question may reverse.
     
  4. dauer

    dauer New Member

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    I don't know if it's morally wrong but I think it's important to deem it ethically wrong. If it was seen as okay in society I think a lot more people would kill themselves who at a later time might realize it's not a good idea, that they were acting impulsively because of their present situation.

    Euthenasia I see as a separate issue.
     
  5. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Belief in hell, eternal damnation is what determines a lot of folks thoughts on this.

    Am I mistaken, I thought you didn't have concrete beliefs in afterlife.
     
  6. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    I agree euthanasia to be a separate issue.

    And I agree with Will that it is sad. Sad that someone feels they the only way they can achieve something is through their own death. I think suicide to be neither a moral nor an ethical issue. But a desperate act that usually makes no sense to anyone but the person committing it. Every such act has its own lead up and rationality to the individual and to give them a blanket morality or ethics is thus impossible. Suicide is very sad. We have so little time anyway and to end it prematurely has to be a difficult choice and one I do not think I could make. But I do understand there are good reasons for choosing oblivion and I think everybody should have that right free from the moralising of any third party.

    tao
     
  7. dauer

    dauer New Member

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    Wil,

    I don't believe there is necessarily an afterlife at all nor do I see why an ethical perspective on suicide necessitates that there is one. Judaism doesn't have the concept of hell or eternal damnation and still finds itself against suicide.

    My personal perspective has more to do with knowledge of mental illness and the shifting nature of the individual's ego-stance. Someone may at a time in their life feel very down and think suicide is a good idea. Because of the social taboo they might not do it. Without the taboo they would be more likely to attempt suicide. But tomorrow, or the next week, or the next month, if they're still alive, they might well realize that killing themselves would have been an impulsive choice because they were not thinking clearly. I don't even necessarily accept the idea of free will, but I do think our beliefs will shape our actions. For that reason I support the perpetuation of a suicide taboo. It helps prevent people from making choices that, should they live to tell about it, they would quite likely regret.

    -- Dauer
     
  8. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    I agree that euthanasia is a separate issue.

    I've been touched personally by suicide and my conclusion is that it is ethically wrong because it is, ultimately, a selfish act. It harms others. Someone has to find the person who has committed suicide, and that is incredibly painful and leaves a lasting horrible memory that is difficult to deal with. In addition, family are often quite psychologically traumatized by suicide. Quite frankly, suicide is a sort of mental abuse to the people who have to live on and deal with it. I certainly feel for the person who commits suicide (or attempts it), as they are obviously dealing with a great deal of psychological distress. It is very sad. But I feel the same way about a great number of other unethical behaviors as well. It doesn't change that it is abusive to those that are closest to the person and harms them.

    In terms of the afterlife and such, I think it is just pointless to commit suicide, because I think there is no escape at all. I don't believe in hell, but I think if you don't deal with pain in this lifetime, you simply bring it with you to deal with later, so there is little point in "escape" as this is an illusion. Committing suicide only prolongs the agony of dealing with the root causes, and on top of that, adds the baggage of the pain you've caused everyone around you in that decision. While I think God is forgiving and loving, I also think dying doesn't solve the problems of life-- because death is a kind of birth and you go on.

    All that said, I do have great compassion for those struggling with suicidal feelings. I've had a number of friends that have dealt with very difficult circumstances and I do understand that there are some instances where it is very hard to consider other options. Mental illness and drug addiction are the saddest to me, because I feel that they are generally the most temporary and treatable, yet mess up people's psyche so deeply that they often can't think straight. I think chronic severe pain-related conditions are hardest because it disrupts one's life so greatly and is very difficult to manage and to find hope. Regardless of the causal factor, my experience has been that the US health care system is poorly equipped to deal with the amount of severe depression that occurs in the population and I know from personal experience that some people who would very likely have survived do not because of a lack of quality medical care.
     
  9. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    Suicide is a failure, three fold. It is a selfish act (most of the time), it is a failure on the part of those close to someone to see the stress, and to step forward and take control, of one who is emotionally out of control and crying for help (the signs are always there, we just miss them for what ever reasons), and it is a failure on society for allowing media hounds to tought that life is cheap.

    Morally wrong? If one follows montheistic scriptures, it invariably says that life is given by a God, and is taken by a God, no one else. But we do it all the time anyway.

    Ethically wrong? I'm not sure where ethics plays a part in suicide. An analogy would be the Chinese hurdler who pulled his achiilles tendons, and could not even compete in Olympics. Oh he tried, because that what was expected of him. But the pain was too much for him to bear, so he dropped out to a false start, leaving thousands stunned. He quit, and they couldn't understand. Their expectations overroad his needs (to heal). They didn't come to his aid, they just walked out of the stadium, and said they wouldn't come back.

    The failure in ethics might be ours, not the one who decides to end their life...
     
  10. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    I'd add, Q, that in my experience, the family and friends close to the individual do recognize the problem, and try to take control. But for it to work out, the medical care system has to be in place to help. That was the big problem that I saw result in a suicide. People knew, people cared. Even the person who committed suicide cared and knew. He tried to get inpatient help, with the support of family, several times during a year of severe depression and chronic pain. He was given tons of different prescriptions, to which he became addicted and only added to the problem. He had insurance and was still denied inpatient treatment all the times he tried to get it. He knew, we knew, everyone knew that he was on the brink of a suicidal episode (or accidental OD) he wouldn't make it out of. None of us got any support from the medical system that they were paying for whatsoever. The result was a life tragically and brutally ended very short.

    I have met several others that I found to be suicidal and counseled as one friend to another, who had totally been betrayed by the health insurance system they were paying for. Denied any long-term psych treatment, denied inpatient treatment, just given tons of pills and ignored when they didn't work or interacted badly.

    My conclusion is that I am disgusted with our health insurance system in the States and its capacity to support mental health. I can't even imagine how many more people die because they have no health coverage at all. It's really appalling. Our nation is one of the wealthiest and also one with the highest rates of depression and other mental illness. And we have a lousy health care system that leaves people desperate to save themselves and their loved ones without recourse. I don't think that many people die because people miss the signs. People die because even once you catch the signs, there is little one can do under our current system.

    While I do think suicide is an ethical issue, it is most certainly a socially systemic one and not an issue of individual moral integrity.
     
  11. dauer

    dauer New Member

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    Yeps. The American healthcare system is terrible.

    I agree.

    -- Dauer
     
  12. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    Following on from this.....why do folks here think that depressive illness is so common in western societies? Is it a by-product of a superficial reward system?, too much free time to think?, too much insight into the dirty underbelly of our system?, or has life become just as disposable as everything else???

    tao
     
  13. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste dauer,

    thank you for the post.

    why do you think that more people would kill themselves if it wasn't deemed ethically wrong?

    wouldn't that imply that beings held the same ethical values to begin with?

    metta,

    ~v
     
  14. dauer

    dauer New Member

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    Vaj,

    I don't think it does, just acknowledges that cultural taboo can influence members of a society. If someone is very depressed and considering suicide, and there's no taboo against suicide, they may be more willing to take their life. To me it has more to do with the effects of society on the individual than with the independent ideas of individuals.

    -- Dauer
     
  15. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Tao,

    thank you for the post.

    i agree that it is neither a moral or ethical issue.

    i concur with this sentiment as well.

    i completely concur. our views are fairly close on this particular subject it would seem, Tao.

    metta,

    ~v
     
  16. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Path,

    thank you for the post.

    in what way does it harm other beings?

    so, if i understand your point, suicide is wrong because its selfish, yes? if that is the reason that it is wrong, isn't it just as selfish to want to keep the person from committing suicide to spare ourselves pain?

    is there degrees of selfishness by which an act becomes immoral or unethical or is any act which contains a degree of selfishness immoral or unethical?

    that seems to be placing the feelings of other beings before oneself which is an admirable quality. shouldn't that same consideration be made for the being that wants to commit suicide?

    metta,

    ~v
     
  17. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Q,

    thank you for the post.

    why is a selfish action a failure? i'm not sure if you mean immoral or unethical in such description so pardon the clumsy wording.

    what do you mean by "take control of one that is emotionally out of control"? do you mean to use physical means to prevent them from committing suicide?

    does that mean you think it is morally wrong?

    metta,

    ~v
     
  18. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Dauer,

    thank you for the post.

    are you indicating that you think cultural taboos are ethics? i'm unclear about the idea of "more willing" is there a sliding scale of willingness that would be applicable here?

    metta,

    ~v
     
  19. Eclectic Mystic

    Eclectic Mystic Member

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    People who commit suicide make the same fallacy as someone who claims that it is selfish-- that is, that there is even an incentive to commit suicide.
     
  20. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste EM,

    thank you for the post.

    are you suggesting that a person that commits suicide is doing so due to a perceived incentive to do so? perhaps i don't understand the use of the term incentive in this context.

    metta,

    ~v
     

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