The ethics of suicide

Provided you don’t have anybody depending on you for sustenance, is there any good reason why suicide should be considered an inherently evil or sinful act?

Why is the act of ending your own life so strongly condemned in most cultures?

No. It should be seen as a natural right.

No, but it may be short-sighted, allowing a brief depression to lead you to an irrevocable decision.

In most cultures, since life is a gift from God, it’s seen as abusing or spoiling that gift.

As above though, I feel that it should be a natural right; albeit a selfish one to those around you.

I feel it would be evil to commit suicide if by doing so you are ignoring your obligations to others.

One of the more obvious ones is to not traumatise some poor train driver by throwing yourself onto the tracks in front of him.

True, but for some of us it hasn’t been brief. For me it’s been 40 years in & out of therapy. It hasn’t help. I want it to end, my life that is, I ended therapy and medication last April, against doctor’s orders, and nothing has change.

I believe the Catholic church, at least, has backed off from viewing suicide as a sin against god (which used to prohibit a Catholic funeral). Now they view the person as mentally ill (or at least not in their right mind temporarily) and not someone who is rejecting a gift of god.

Suicide is incredibly hard on the people in that person’s life. Most people have someone who cares about them. I had a good friend who committed suicide a few years ago. Lots of people loved him including his parents, siblings and a bunch of close friends (his funeral service was standing room only in the church and that despite most people there having to drive three hours to get there).

I still waffle between missing him and being pissed at him.

That said I agree it is your life and whether to continue living it is ultimately the individual’s decision. I certainly support assisted suicide in cases where someone is living in agony with no hope for reprieve. In those cases though the suicide is usually discussed with those close to the person so there is no surprise to it.

No. In some circumstances in fact it is a highly sensible act.

Because the cultures in question don’t want to lose a useful asset. Note that killing yourself usefully, by killing an enemy for example is condemned much less often and usually praised. Also, in highly religious cultures which believe in a pleasant afterlife, it is necessary to push the idea that suicide is a sin in order to prevent the believers from trying to mass-suicide themselves into paradise; especially since such societies tend to produce utterly miserable lives in the real world.

Yikes. And the profile sig! :frowning:

Please don’t do it, Foggy.

As with plenty of other choices, having the right doesn’t make it a good idea.

I read somewhere that quite a number of suicides are older folks that have no family left, and don’t see any point to sticking around. All lot of them leave notes that explain to cops, landlords, etc. that they were yearning to join loved ones that are dead. That’s sad, but I don’t see anything evil in it.

You could consider Future You to be to some extent a different person from Present You.

In that case, killing her would be a kind of murder.

Rule one is when you are depressed never make any major decisions. When it comes to suicide, though, it appears that there is a catch-22. If you are depressed and are making a major decision, namely, suicide, then applying rule one yields the result that all and any major decisions will be postponed until you are no longer depressed. But then, if you are making a major decision, which happens to be suicide, that means that you are depressed and applying rule one yields the result that all and any major decisions will be postponed until you are no longer depressed.

I think there are a few questions here. The first is the right to die with dignity. For this I mean a person with a terminal illness with no hope of recovery. The second is the right to take one’s own life.

Because death is irreversable, the distinction is important.

If I am an otherwise healthy adult, I feel one doesn’t necessarily have the right to take one’s own life. I think most people don’t want to die, so much as they just don’t see the point to living. This is a huge difference and people don’t always make that distinction.

If someone says I want to kill myself and I grab him/her by the throat the first thing they will do is fight to remove my hand. People instinctively want to live. Even if you take a suicidal person and try to kill them, the will start to fight for life. They haven’t really given up and given a purpose and reason to live, I think a healthy, mentally stable person will fight for the chance to live.

Now this of course is vastly different from a person with a terminal illness seeking to end his/her pain or other reasoning along those lines

This is true but usually unintentional.
In my own case, I’ve broken contact with just about everyone I know. I’m selling all my possessions and trying to get all my affairs in order, to try to erase any trace that I was ever here. If I could wipe people’s memories, I would.

And as Der Trihs alludes; society greatly respects people dying for causes that are important to society, though such deaths will still cause grief.
So it’s not the resultant grief that’s condemned, it’s that society isn’t going to get anything out of it.


It sounds like you are planning something that should seriously be reconsidered! Please do so!

I’m still standing by my answer in this post. You should read the rest of the thread before doing anything rash.

Yup. For me it was just last Summer. Kid I’d watched grow up from 10 to 34. Hung himself. His grandmother found the body. Hasn’t recovered, likely never will. His mother had been clean for 20 years. Now she isn’t. I really don’t want to be mad at the guy, but sometimes…I am.

Suicide is the meanest, most self centered form of egotistical attention whoring there is.

OK you don’t love yourself. The thing is, it’s almost a sure thing that someone else does, and killing yourself is just a cheap shot that hurts everyone else, and you get to hide from the consequences.

Get help.


Many methods of suicide severely inconvenience lots of other people. It has already been noted that throwing yourself in front of the train will cause mental disturbance to the driver. In addition to that, consider :

  • Train delays making possibly thousands of people late, which can in turn cause problems for many other people.

  • Police have to spend time and public money investigating the incident. This reduces their available resources. Perhaps it makes them unavailable to prevent some other crime. Maybe an innocent person- gets murdered or raped, who might have been saved, if the police hadn’t been busy at a suicide scene. Even if that doesn’t happen, it costs money which my taxes pay for.

  • Somebody will have to clean up the mess. Not a very nice job.

  • Maybe some wannabe hero will jump after you, try to rescue you, but only get himself killed along with you. His death’s your fault.

And what if you’ve spent your whole life trying to get help and nothing works? As both Foggy and Mijin alluded to. It’s attitudes like this, that definitely do not help the mentally ill.

As to the questions, suicide shouldn’t be considered an inherently evil or sinful act. However, it should be discouraged if at all possible. Because with life, there’s at least hope, no matter how futile it might seem. Once you cross over, there will certainly never be any hope for a better tomorrow.

who knows of a suicide committed just last week