Ethics of Suicide (tangent from "van lifer goes missing" thread)

I figured he had offed himself after the first week they couldn’t find him. I’d like to think he made an honorable decision when he pulled the trigger on himself.

I have never found it honorable when people avoid the consequences of their own actions.

There is nothing honorable about that sort of pond scum, or anything he did.

swamp scum

I agree with you in general. But I also believe that death itself is a consequence. His motivations would matter here quite a bit. Remorseful self punishment vs fear of apprehension. If his motivations were simply that he was scared about what would happen when he got caught then it swings the needle over to full coward.

I understand your position. There are some people that I also have found to be completely irredeemable, and at that point there is nothing they could ever do to convince me otherwise.

Maybe, maybe not.

If there had been a trial, or if he’d been humane enough to tell Gabby’s family what actually happened to her, that might have bought something of a teeny bit of redemption. Not enough to make up for all that he had done, but it would have been something.

Instead, he took that bit of closure for someone else to his grave. Making him yet again a selfish piece of shit.

Tough crowd.

^ I agree with all of these comments. We can’t even imagine the hell that Brian—by choice—put Gabby’s family through. It was his choice to do so.

There’s a cultural tendency to shrug at murder-suicide, or to regard it as simply “romance gone wrong” or “a tragic love story”. This is a regrettable inclination that ignores the fact that one person slaughtered another person. The killer gets all sorts of credit he (usually) should not, simply because people prefer not to think about the reality of murder.

Many in this thread have been awarding Brian credit for all sorts of things (e.g. ‘sparing his family’), or at least expressing sympathy for him.

The fact appears to be that Brian was a person who put his hands around another person’s neck and squeezed until they were dead–a several-minute process. Those who want to find Brian sympathetic, presumably, prefer not to think about that.

Maybe he he did. Maybe there’s a note to them in his writings. I hope there is. As for closure. Does it matter if it’s the state that executes his sentence, or if he does it himself? That’s a hard one.

I think you’re missing the point. I don’t find him sympathetic. I find his actions after the fact may have been empathetic. He definitely did wrong shit, he murdered her. The question is, at what point, after the fact, could he have done better than executing his own sentence without delay. Taking into account his own family as well as hers. Both families being equally innocent.

I would expect the opposite, to be honest. It’s slightly more likely the CJS would continue to look into it because Gaby was a pretty young White woman, but I still doubt anything more will be done.

On the contrary, I assume any suicide is selfish and self-centered until proven otherwise. Causing pain to others is supremely selfish and a dick move. Removing yourself deliberately as Laundrie did without making even a token effort to answer the questions of a deceased person’s family is also selfish and a dick move. I am continually baffled that people could think suicide is NOT selfish. Not that I doubt your feelings or opinions - I don’t doubt your self-reporting of your mental state - I just don’t “get” it.

Happy to agree to disagree on this.

When people kill themselves they are generally in a state that is so disconnected from reality, they believe they are sparing others the burden of living with them. Their only thought is to end their own suffering and by extension, that of others.

The one exception I tend to make is when people kill themselves to evade responsibility for morally wrong or criminal acts. I can’t know what the guy was thinking, maybe remorse was in the mix. But it added bad things on top of an already bad thing, and I do not see it as some kind of noble sacrifice.

I believe that 99.99% of the time they are completely wrong on that point and their self-murder results in greater suffering for those they leave behind. Again, self-centered and selfish.

I don’t doubt they’re “disconnected from reality”, but that’s part of why they’re wrong. They have a very inaccurate assessment of the situation.

Great way to draw someone contemplating suicide back from the brink: call them selfish just for thinking about depriving us of their company and making us feel bad (who, again, is being selfish here?), and assure them that the world just needs them to stop being so selfish.

Anyway, I don’t know what Laundrie was thinking when he killed himself or Petito. Although I suspect Gabby, for her part, was terrified when he did the deed on her. I have a fairly nuanced position on suicide, but am not inclined to give the benefit of a doubt to people who murder others, as I think we can reasonably conclude Laundrie did. He deprived her family of even the small comfort of knowing what happened and why.

This reads like an archetypical domestic violence story to me, and the type of personality that abuses others to the point of murder is not generally one given to self-reflection and atonement.

Of course I wouldn’t say that to someone telling me they want to kill themself. I’d keep the opinion that they are about to commit a selfish act to my self while encouraging them to seek help, if necessary calling for assistance in preventing them from harming themselves. A suicidal person doesn’t need a lecture ethics, they need help to keep themselves from harm. Likewise, I wouldn’t lecture a drunk-driver post-accident about what sort of despicable human being they are, I’d render first-aid and call 911 for additional help and assistance. In the midst of a crisis is not the time for philosophical debate.

That still doesn’t change that I, personally, think murdering your own self to be a supremely selfish act that inflicts life-long suffering on those around the person.

Yeah, Laundrie was exceptionally selfish and dickish.

No, I suppose it’s not “honorable,” but after you’ve murdered someone, what honor is there left to care about? Were I a murderer, I wouldn’t give two shits about any notions of “honor.”

Anyone facing life in prison may quite possibly (and perhaps even quite reasonably) see that as a fate worse than death. If so, suicide may seem like a preferable option. And it might well be.

It does read exactly like that. His actions weren’t justified by any means that I can imagine.
But to say he wasn’t the type given to atonement nor self reflection based only on the fact he took those actions, that doesn’t follow for me.

Without the release of any additional information from his family or his notebook I think maybe he did deprive them of that knowledge.

As a father I’m left wondering how comforting any of that information might be to me were I in the same circumstance. Would I find more or less comfort in knowing any particular details? Would it matter to me if he had killed my daughter for x reason or under x circumstances? I can’t think of anything I might learn that would be more comforting, or less.

I can’t really think of anything he might have deprived me of by taking his own life except my own personal pleasure in witnessing his end first hand, or maybe depriving me of the ability to end him myself.

Quite possibly, but I think human nature would have him run the odds in favor of less than optimal life vs death. Either way, if that were found to be his motivation I’d consider his final actions cowardly.

I make that assumption based on my knowledge of the dynamics of intimate partner violence. In order to abuse someone repeatedly, you have to do it intentionally, and you have to consciously employ power and control tactics. Strangulation is one of the most lethal tactics abusers use and is at the high end of escalation of violence. Strangulation escalates to murder at a very high rate, the risk of lethality is roughly equivalent to threatening someone with a gun or knife. (The problem is that many victims don’t realize how high the risk of lethality is when they are strangled, it easily flies under their radar the way having someone pull a gun would not.) This is the reason strangulation is a felony in many states. Most abusers don’t kill the first time they strangle. It’s behavior that escalates over time. To repeatedly victimize someone in this way requires intentionality and a heap of rationalization and minimization, which means in order to abuse someone, you have to be a pretty terrible person, in a pretty specific way. And one of those specific ways is a lack of insight or willingness to take accountability for your actions.

Now, I’ll allow that this particular abuser may have been different in such-and-such way, but it seems unlikely from a pure statistical standpoint. So I’m unsurprised his final act was a further lack of accountability. Very sad.