Is social shaming more powerful than the law?

I’ve been thinking about how suicide is probably one of the few things condemned heavily in many Western countries that isn’t illegal by any means. Most people who feel suicidal won’t go on with it because they don’t want to hurt their family.

Conversely, there are many actions that are “permittable” in society (underage drinking, minor theft, drug taking) which can carry moderate to severe penalties under the law but are not condemned as heavily and more people would take part in them.

Is it that things like suicide aren’t illegal because there’s no need to i.e. the social guilt is enough to deter it… whereas with other illegal activities considered permittable, one needs a law because it’s very easy for someone to partake in them without considering the consequences.

Who exactly could get prosecuted for suicide?

It is illegal in many places since that allows you to try to stop them from committing the crime.

If it’s legal, you just have to stand idly by and wait till they’re done, I guess.

Suicide is illegal in many jurisdictions, but I don’t think that’s why people refrain from committing it. I think most people are constrained by the biological imperative to live, followed by fear of death, and then social guilt.

People are more disinhibited when it comes to committing petty crimes because a petty crime provides just a temporary thrill. You can ask for forgiveness afterwards. Suicide is permanent. Once you take the plunge off the 20-story balconey, there’s no backsies.

The cross-examination would be interesting.

What monstro said. The fact that suicide is or may be illegal is probably hardly at all something registering in someone’s mind when they’re thinking of ending their life.
(I have always felt that suicide being illegal is one of the most absurd and nonsensical laws that could possibly be on the books, but that’s beside the topic)

Of course people weren’t prosecuted for suicide, but attempting to commit crimes is often punished and people have been, and are still in some jurisdictions, prosecuted for attempting the crime of suicide. https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-14374296

For either public or private shaming to work, first the target needs to be capable of feeling shame.

Where is suicide illegal?

And you’d better make sure that your public shaming doesn’t make you and your cohort look extreme and drive people to the other side.

How did the attempt to publicly shame gay people and divorcees work out for the social conservatives? Do you think it brought more people to their side, or merely emboldened their enemies and drove away moderates?

God yes - we’re in the middle of this year’s Sanfermines and I’m in a whatsapp group that’s being such a PITA about “killing bulls is bad! raising animals (except for my own pets) is bad! owning animals (again except for my pets) is bad! killing animals (except for the ones I like to eat) is bad!” that they’re making me feel sympathetic with the bullfighters.

Lots of places.

In about half of those places, it’s a capital crime…

I guess the question I was asking is how many Democracies make suicide illegal? Not very many that I can see.

I dunno, Sam. I’d have to say it worked pretty well for hundreds of years. Just because it’s failed now doesn’t mean such shaming didn’t work for a long time.

:smack: