Is suicide morally or ethically wrong?

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

  1. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    Vaj,

    More that I see suicide as a social taboo that has been incorporated into society's system of ethics. There are a lot of taboos that are connected on some level with cultural ethics like bestiality and incest. If a man and a dog love each other, and the dog comes onto the man, why shouldn't they have sexual relations? I don't see anything explicitly unethical about that however there is a very strong societal taboo against it that is connected to the society's ethics.

    -- Dauer
     
  2. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste dauer,

    thank you for the post.

    :confused:

    you're suggesting that if there wasn't a societal taboo against beastiality, more people would have sex with animals? you're suggesting that more people would have incestuous relationships? that seems like the slippery slope fallacy.

    leaving aside sex for a moment, let's get back to death! so i think i understand you to be saying that suicide is ethically wrong but not, per se, immoral. is that correct?

    metta,

    ~v
     
  3. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    Hi, Vaj and namaste-

    Psychologically. Similar to witnessing a murder, or war, or physical abuse, or rape. Violence impacts others who witness it psychologically in a negative way.

    Additionally, if the person is young (which they often are) and has children or a spouse, it causes people to be widowed and orphaned. These things are social problems and also cause psychological harm to those left behind without the benefit of their parent or spouse. It is very difficult for children to understand death; suicide causes more difficulty than anything else I've seen for kids to learn how to deal with the death of a parent. The natural tendency is for children to question themselves as causes of the parent's stress and illness and it is very hard to remove such feelings. It can harm a child into adulthood and is a lasting stigma.

    No. Because I am doing it for more reasons than that. People want to commit suicide because they are ill. The compassionate thing is to heal them. Death does not (in my opinion) heal the pain. It perpetuates and accelerates it.

    Secondly, I argue suicide is unethical because it (like all violent acts) psychologically damages others. I do not think it is selfish to minimize psychological suffering of the group (family, friends, etc.) by insisting on ethical standards that minimize violence, including suicide.

    The way I see it, suicide is mental and psychological abuse. Like other forms of mental abuse, it is selfish, yet generally unintentional-- that is, it stems from a person's own pain and not a desire to harm others. That said, I do not think it is acceptable for a being to mentally abuse another. The argument you use here could be used to argue that no mental/emotional abuse is unethical, because the desire of the abused to be free from pain is just as selfish as the desire of the abuser to have the perceived pay-off from abusing. I just don't buy that. I think people who abuse others (in whatever form) are suffering and need to be rehabilitated (healed). If that is not possible, others should be protected from their abuse. In the case of a suicidal person, that would mean inpatient care.

    I think selfishness is unethical. But defining selfishness is the tricky part.

    No. For the reasons above. To me, that is like saying society should consider the feelings of an abusive parent by allowing them to abuse their child. Considering their feelings does not mean sanctioning behaviors that harm others. Compassion does not mean agreement with a behavior.

    Peace,
    Kim/Path
     
  4. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    Vaj,

    Yes, I am suggesting that, though I think incest is probably trickier because I think some of that may be hardwired. However, I don't think the hard wiring applies to, say, cousins that one hasn't been raised alongside.

    Pretty much, when what is ethical is understood in light of cultural bias. There are some cultures that don't view suicide the same way, at least in certain circumstances. Their situation would be a little different.

    -- Dauer
     
  5. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste path,

    thank you for the post.

    are you are saying that the individual is not as important as the group, the groups feelings (i.e. their desire to avoid pain) take precedence over the individuals feelings (i.e. their desire to avoid pain) and for this reason a being should not commit suicide?

    what if there is no healing available, no cure so to speak?

    why not? it is the group that is desiring to have their feelings spared, that seems selfish on its face. i don't have a problem with selfish actions per se as there are degrees of such.

    that is the argument. it seems that your argument is that suicide is wrong because other people suffer mental anguish. such a view clearly posits the "other people" as the more important group and their desire to avoid pain is as selfish as the person committing suicides desire to avoid pain. i realize you think that death doesn't prevent pain though for beings that do not share such a belief the fact that pain is transmitted through the physical from is a strong indicator that death stops pain.

    to prevent your own pain you would deprive others of their liberty and their choice. you don't think that such a view is selfish?

    ah, we'd disagree on this particular idea.

    you're not talking about disagreement, you are talking about involuntarily committing people to psychological institutions.

    nevertheless, i understand that you think that suicide is immoral and unethical, is that correct?

    metta,

    ~v
     
  6. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Dauer,

    thank you for the post.

    let's take, for example, 11th century Japan. in what way would suicide be a little different? i would suggest that it would be quite a bit different than most cultures that are not Asian however, within most Asian cultures the practice of suicide has a very different connotation than it does in non-Asian cultures.

    metta,

    ~v
     
  7. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    Vaj,

    right. That's the way in which I see it as culturally bound.
     
  8. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    9 people I knew committed suicide within 24 months of each other, all were living in the same area I grew up in. I cannot know the desperation that drove them to it but I do not believe for a moment that they did not consider the anguish of their loved ones. Rational or not, they had to make the choice that that anguish was less than the alternative.

    I think suicide is super-rational, or better still beyond rational. Such an unequivocal action is beyond the thoughts of anybody else. Of course there are flippant, hasty, spur of the moment and accidental suicides but the majority, I posit, are not at all like that. Suicide is the biggest, most profound decision that person will ever make. Even for the most tormented mind it is not a decision that they make with ease.

    This pre-emptive guilt trip, that suicide is selfish, that is common in western religions is, as Vaj hints at, not the norm in every culture. Quite the opposite, it is the noble and courageous thing to do if one is incapable of meeting ones responsibilities not just in Japan but throughout history and across the geographical plane. The Japanese may have ritualised it for a time, but it was by no means unique to that culture. Often suicide is seen by the person as an unselfish act that frees up time and resources for those they love and that they feel they do not deserve to squander. IE.... that it is the opposite of a selfish act.

    There are attention seeking cries for help but for most people choosing that path that are deadly serious there is one attempt, and it is successful. Pain, anguish, suffering are all relative and the suicide has weighed them all before he/she ever takes that final step. Social taboos are the last of their worries. Suicide is sad and very difficult for the loved ones yes, but the religious taboos that would never hinder a serious attempt do nothing at all to prevent it and only add to the pain of the relatives/friends. The only people the taboos effect are the victims loved ones. My thoughts about the people I have known, and they number more than that 9, are more respectful of the courage it takes to take such an irreversible decision. I in no way call it selfish. I just hope I never experience their anguish.


    tao
     
  9. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    What you are referring to is the ability of the mind to over-ride the will of self preservation. And it is selfish (self centered). They have no other that they can turn to, so they turn within and...find no answer, but that to end their pain. Cut's close to the heart of the matter, of not having something, someone greater than self, to help one, in desperate measures...

    Permanent solution to a temporary problem.
     
  10. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    Hi, Vaj and namaste-

    In this particular case, yes. Minimizing suffering would mean that one being suffering is better than several dozen suffering. Particularly when the being who is suicidal is generally able to be healed with patience, medical support, and time. I argue for fixing the social system to allow this and to prevent severe depression to begin with, rather than simply accepting suicide. To accept suicide is to abandon both the group and the individual in their pain, rather than to fix what is broken.

    Suicide for particular culture-bound reasons that are socially acceptable is still not the best option to me, but I put it in a different category of behavior. I have been assuming we are discussing suicide in first world modern societies. There are many other types of suicide in other times and cultures that have different social results.

    Generally, there are preventative measures (socially) and cures (socially). It is quite rare that this is not the case, but in those cases, I would consider it euthanasia and not suicide. I think in such cases as severe chronic pain for which the patient attempts to find palliative care and is unable to withstand such pain, euthanasia should be an option and this should be something that the family can work through together, just as the case with terminal illnesses. But I do think that the unselfish thing is to try all options before concluding something is incurable. Most mental illness is curable or manageable (or can be prevented), as indicated by relatively low incidences of these issues in non-first-world and non-modern societies.

    I think I answered this above. I am for minimizing suffering of beings. And I agree there are degrees of selfishness, but I think all selfishness is short-sighted and deleterious overall, since I believe all beings are actually one (and in that context, should work for the whole).

    If the group is never held as more important than the individual, then what can be said to be unethical? Why is murder a problem? Stealing? Adultery? All beings have desires to alleviate some sort of suffering and to gain some sort of pleasure. Why is any behavior unethical if everyone's desires are equally selfish? How would society function if beings were never expected to sacrifice something of themselves for the good of the group?

    I recognize that beings may believe this. It does not make me feel it is accurate. Humans used to believe that the sun went 'round the earth and that the earth was flat. The earth certainly appears to be flat much of the time. So while I understand that beings may not agree with my beliefs and that I could be wrong, I also posit they could be wrong and I don't agree with them. I understand why people commit suicide. I just don't think it actually helps.

    I said nothing of myself. I was speaking of the group as a whole. A suicide rarely affects only one person. Secondly, I think that it isn't only about preventing others' pain, but also protecting the person from harming themself until they can try to be healed. Thirdly, there are circumstances where it is appropriate (in my opinion) to deprive people of liberty for the good of society. I am not saying this would be one of them, but I certainly think it is appropriate to deprive people of their freedom when they murder, rape, and otherwise harm others. We are social animals. For survival, we must have some ground rules.

    No, I'm not necessarily. My own experiences have been with people who wanted to be in institutions until they could get better and were denied care. I do think, however, there is a place for committing people to institutions if they will harm themselves or others and there is hope for healing. It's the same question of putting someone on life support for a while to see if they can make it through a coma. It is (I think) inappropriate to do it indefinitely, but for a while to see if healing can take place, it is helpful.

    I think it's difficult to say, because ethical and moral are diversely defined. I think suicide (as opposed to euthanasia) is unethical in most cases, unless socially sanctioned. This is apparent statistically. Most societies view suicide under most circumstances as wrong behavior (the definition of ethics). I agree, because suicide threatens others' psychological health and the social fabric. When socially sanctioned, I may not agree with it, but I would not argue that it is socially unethical. I think God doesn't punish people for suicide or anything like that, but I think we work through our sufferings until we can live without them. So I think that suicide simply moves one's suffering from one lifetime to the next, plus adds on the suffering one has caused others in the process, plus means the being misses the rest of that life's lessons and so must face all of those again. It isn't that I think God finds it immoral, but rather that it simply is pointless for the being who is suffering and detrimental to others. So it is a wrong behavior because it is out of harmony with alleviating suffering and because it is ultimately useless to all involved.
     
  11. Only Special To God

    Only Special To God New Member

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    Is suicide morally or ethically wrong?

    That is a very tough question, but I will give my thoughts on it. I agree with some of your points of view.

    I think that it is both are not morally or ethically wrong. The reason being is that unless you are put in the other person shoes, you cannot judge them. That is for God to do. I think that morally it is not wrong because they are weak or mentally ill and was never destined to be a part of our lives. Some are pushed to the edge. Either by others in a way of physical or mental abuse, and they feel that there is no way out. Then you have the ones that are drug abusers who eventually kill themselves by accident because they cannot get enough or others, which is a usually small child who finds it and eats it or the elderly for what they can inherit from them.

    Then you have the ones that just talk about it, and attempt it just to get attention. Until, no one is interested anymore or tries to stop them that they succeed. Then there are the people who are chemically unbalanced and try to seek help with no avail, thinking that it is the best thing to do for all around them.

    Once someone has their mind made up about doing it is hard to deter them from completing what they have planned. You can be supportive, you can help them to seek help, but sometimes you just cannot protect them from themselves 24/7 unless they are locked up, and then they can still succeed if they are determined enough.

    Ethically wrong? I don’t think so, as we perform euthanasia on animals who are suffering everyday. I have seen people suffering with cancer screaming in agonizing pain, that I am sure that if it was offered to them that they would take it. I think that it should be a choice for your choosing. I know that we must bear our crosses in life, but I do not think that because you are having a bad day or fighting with your partner that it is a way out. I feel that if you are terminal that is should be offered as a choice. You are going to die any way soon, so why should you have to linger in agony for months or even years at a time before your body finally gives out.

    Believe me, I have been pushed to the edge myself, but I have been lucky enough to have had divine interventions both times.

    I have come into this world, I have had my crosses to bear and I know that there are more still to come. I just pray that when the next one comes along that the good Lord will be with me like he always has been. To give me the strength and the courage to overcome the trials and tribulations that he has set before me.

    Ian
     
  12. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    What's with the bold? Euthanasia, is not suicide, and has no place here. We are talking about people giving up their life...for nothing, but self pain. People tend to hold on, if others tend to hold on to them. And God, alleges to make the cross carried less burdensome, if we turn to that God.

    Suicide is only viable if there is no one to turn to...again, lack of someone/something greater than us, in our life.

    v/r

    Q
     
  13. Eclectic Mystic

    Eclectic Mystic Member

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    Vaj, this is basically what I'm refering to (no offense to the poster because I know its unintentional). He's inadvertently affirming that they:
    will "find no answer,"
    will "end their pain,"
    are in "desperate measures," and
    will have a solution.

    I personally think that a person is more likely discover that "someone greater than himself" by turning within rather than by relying on the advise of other humans.
     
  14. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    No offense taken. And I will back out of this thread, but not before making clear, I did not mean "human advice"...

    Take care,

    Q
     
  15. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Q,

    thank you for the post.

    as that wasn't stipulated to in the OP nor did Tao's post indicate this i'm curious how come to such a conclusion? does the belief in a deity automatically make a being immune to committing suicide?

    metta,

    ~v
     
  16. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Path,

    thank you for the post.

    thank you for clarifying.

    i apologize for my ambiguity. is your view different of suicide in, say, 1735 France? in this other cultural cases you would not consider it to be immoral and unethical, is that correct?

    unselfish for whom? why does the person contemplating suicide have less right for their feelings to be consdiered?

    it seems like you are indicating that the selfishness of the people that care about the potential suicide is ok and, in fact, is reason for the person not to go through with the act though your argument is that suicide is wrong, primarily, because it's selfish. if i held that it's ok to be selfish in some cases and not ok to be selfish in other cases then i would suspect that using this distinction to make a moral or ethical conclusion would be problematic at best.

    i don't know this to be so. i know, many, many families in Asia that have lost family members to suicide and the newspapers from that part of the world have stories regarding this sort of thing on a monthly basis.

    who said anything about never? i have an understanding of why you place the group above the individual being now from your previous response.

    all good questions which deserve a thread of their own to be properly discussed, which i'd be happy to do with you, as this thread is only concerned with suicide.

    is that a valid basis for making a moral judgement regarding it, simply that it doesn't help? there are many actions within a beings life that cannot reasonably said to help them yet most of them are not considered immoral for this fact, at least in my world view.

    sorry, i misunderstood your initial response to this thread then.

    is there a point when you stop trying to heal them? what does "protecting them from harming themselves" actually mean other than physically restraining them?

    but we are only talking of this one here, so i'll disregard this bit.

    hope is so nebulous as to hardly say anything other than to indicate that a person that wanted to commit suicide could be held against their will indefinitely until the loved ones finally gave up hope.

    it is difficult to imagine a view more at odds with what i consider to be human rights, ethics and morality.

    so it's unethical in most cases unless the society allows such actions. is it immoral in those cases or is that also a dictum of the society?

    thank you for your explanation.

    metta,

    ~v
     
  17. Only Special To God

    Only Special To God New Member

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    I did not realise that it was bold until, I pasted it from a word document, as I wanted to think about what I had to say, instead of doing it on the fly, as I have taken more than a few minutes in typing, as my thought process is a little on the slow side and my grammar is just atrocious. :rolleyes:


    Yes, you are correct. I didn't checked my word dictionary and thought that we were having a discussion on it being rightfully wrong. Please excuse me. I have a feeling like you are the type of person who has already dismissed my opinion, thinking that I maybe some kind of an idiot, but that is okay....that is your opinion also and I respect that.


    Some people do tend to hold on, if they have the will to do so . But, I do beleive it has to do with their strength and weaknesses, and some people are just "chicken" and choose the easy way out, instead of standing steadfast. Look you can try to hold on to someone, it still doesn't keep them from dying, you may delay them, but you will still end up holding a corpse in your arms.

    Yes, God is here to help us carry our crosses, if we ask him to. And I feel that he is extremely busy with all of the needy people in this world, that when I ask him to help me, that he knows that I am in dire straights. In some cases he has answered my prayers and in others he has given me direction and insight on how to help myself and others.

    Oh, and by the way, it is nice to meet you "Q". (extending hand to shake)

    IAN O. SETG
     
  18. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    The failure is giving up on life, in a deliberate, self induced fashion. Taking control is being the leaning post for someone staggering, and indeed if need be, holding on to them, until they realize they are being held by someone who cares. I think morally it is a mistake...one that can not be learned from, once commited.
     
  19. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    immune? no. Accountable? I think so.
     
  20. Francis king

    Francis king New Member

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    is suicide morally or ethically wrong?

    If you are a burden to others, state or society, family, friends, peers, etc, and there is no escape from this state, then killing yourself is a moral and ethical act...

    I think of the elderly Innuits, who, I am told, in the olden days, often committed suicide in the harsh winter as a moral act- to enable others to eat the food they would have been given...

    I think of old people who cling to life, their families pumping them full of drugs, their very expensive care versus their poor quality of life... much better it would be for them to accept death, and pop off...

    Death comes in the end anyway... you cannot fight it, yet our society strives to ward off death by any means possible... I think this is immoral, as it wastes resources, and I think it is unethical to cling to life when death is approaching...

    That said... before you decide to kill yourself, you should first try to change the situation ur in... ppl attempt suicide because they are miserable.... these individual miseries can often be allieviated- extra medicine for ppl in pain, social support for the lonely and depressed, counselling for the disgusted and traumatised...

    suicide should only be the final option when all other options are exhausted...
     

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