Suicide

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Spirituality in the Arts' started by Cryozombie, Jun 10, 2008.

  1. Cryozombie

    Cryozombie Grandmaster

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    In Feudal Japan, the act of suicide was a highly ritualized and accepted practice, mainly among the samurai, but stories often speak of nobles who do it as well...

    in the west, its somthing we abhor... illegalize... debate its merits to put an end to suffering at end-of-life...

    What exactly is the moral reason people disapprove of the practice? And what circumstances make it ok? Or are thier none?

    At what point is an individual's right to make that choice for themselves "wrong" and they need "help"? At what point is it ok to assist someone in doing it?
     
  2. CoryKS

    CoryKS Senior Master

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    Are you referring to ritual suicide as a way to erase some shame that he has brought to his family, or suicide just because he's a sad little samurai? I'm not big on Japanese history, but it doesn't seem like a warrior culture would have been real forgiving of killing oneself because one just can't take it anymore.

    Moral reasons, hmm, let's see. If one has people to whom one is responsible, like a family, it's wrong to leave them to fend for themselves. If one has left debts, it is unethical not to pay them. Then there's the emotional pain left in one's wake but it's up to the individual to decide if they care about other people's pain, I suppose. As a parent, I think the worst pain in the world would be to raise a child, love him, sacrifice for him, and then watch him unconditionally reject life.

    I think if someone really wants to do it nothing will stop him, and the idea of making it illegal is amusing. What're they going to do - arrest the corpse? But I don't believe it should be ok to assist someone in it. It's way too easy to pull the plug on someone else, and if one wants to die he should have the stones to do it himself.
     
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  3. Kacey

    Kacey Sr. Grandmaster

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    I think the difference in cultural outlook has much to do with religion, which shapes many of the moral decisions that people make.

    In Christianity-based religions, suicide is a sin - and much of our morality and laws come from the Judeo-Christian background of those who set the standards for morality and wrote the laws; also, in Christianity-based religions, death is final - the afterlife is a separate existence, based on but different from the current life.

    In Asian cultures, suicide in honor-based situations is seen as a way to redeem one's honor or that of one's family; death is seen as a resetting of the wheel of existence, where one will return as a (hopefully) more evolved being moving on to the next level of existence.

    I think that the primary difference, therefore, is based on the perception of death - if death is permanent, it is much more to be feared than if death is a way to start over.

    As far as an individual's right to commit suicide in certain circumstances... there are too many variables for me to give a straight and uncertain answer. But I will point out that the only species for which we do not provide euthanasia in cases of age, severe debility, or disease, is our own.
     
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  4. Tames D

    Tames D RECKLESS

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    Interesting. Good point. That's been the only thing stopping me for some reason. Now I'll have to rethink it.
     
  5. Kreth

    Kreth Grandmaster

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    This past weekend I attended the funeral for my friend (and bass player in my band), who took his own life. It's not a decision I could ever see myself making, but there was a lot going on in his life. It's hard for me to say that it's wrong, as I don't know what I would have done in his position. :idunno:
     
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  6. girlbug2

    girlbug2 Master of Arts

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    In our Judeo Christian culture of the Western world, the reason it is wrong hearkens back to our biblical roots that say that mankind is made in the image of God. If you seek to destroy yourself or any other human, you are therefore murdering the image of God.

    Aside from that, -- if God created the universe and everything in it, He therefore owns you and you have no right to take your own life because ultimately it's not yours.

    Thirdly, Kacey also put his finger on the finality of death as perceived by our linear culture...no more chances to come back and "get it right" some other time, eternal consequences for our actions in this life. So if somebody's life is horrible/painful/depressing enough to contemplate suicide, then ironically that is the last thing they should do, because it means they have a lot to resolve in this life before facing eternity.
     
  7. BrandiJo

    BrandiJo Master of Arts

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    It seems to me people need a way out a way to deal with things and they find non... no hope and no where to turn so in todays world they opt for suicide. Maybe way back when it was different... i don't know my history well enough to say for sure. I know that the way iv seen it used it is a cry for help and done out of despreation so assisting it is and should be very wrong, and the person is not thinking clearly or rationally and are in need of intervention by someone else. I do however think that when you are aged and dieing you should have a way to move on with out the months/years of suffering just because we have the ability to make you stay around longer.
     
  8. Mr G

    Mr G Orange Belt

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    This is hard, hard topic with many, many nuances. Ultimately, suicide seems to be about pain. The teenager with a broken heart and a handful of pills is hurting and cannot find a way to work it out. Often coping skills and a better outlook will help. The cancer patient with a relapse is in physical, emotional pain. A feel like we need to lessen pain...

    In Minnesota (Where I work in an ED), it is only illegal to attempt suicide. (Because that demonstrates threat to self) and that is just so they can be held for treatment.
     
  9. MA-Caver

    MA-Caver Sr. Grandmaster

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    In the ancient Samurai tradition it was an act of regaining one's honor after losing it by committing a crime, doing something that embarrassed your Diayamo or Lord, losing a battle that you were commanding, preventing your enemy from counting your death as his (though ironically your enemy may be the one who takes your head before you cry out in pain or topple over from shock and haven't completed the full rite of seppeku. Which by itself is a tremendous act of bravery. It's not just slitting open your belly, but removing the blade and re-inserting it to cut upwards, the fact that you've shown the strength to withstand that much pain WITHOUT crying out or fainting from shock is a very brave thing. Also to do it within a specified time frame ... so many beats agreed between you and your second (the guy who takes your head)... so there's no dawdling about giving you time to make up your mind. So in their eyes it's a way to regain honor because it's not a very easy thing to do.
    Side note; noble women (who were sometimes also Samurai) were allowed the ritual of seppeku but it was taking a smaller, more slender blade and thrusting it into their throats rather their bellies. Their heads were still taken. Everyday citizens were also granted the right to commit seppeku but they were not done in the same manner as the Samurai. They simply kneeled before the samurai (usually the one they offended or a chosen one) and allowed without fuss the removal of their heads.
    What's mind-boggling I think is the fact they did it willingly and at times gladly.

    Patented suicide is a selfish act. I've lost several friends to it myself and it's a terrible thing. Absolutely leaving the ones behind to fill in the void now left unexpectedly.
    It IS a terrible thing for a parent to have lost a child this way. Terrible that the child felt that their problem wouldn't been heard or understood by the person that should matter to them the most... their parent. But again it is an act of selfishness.

    That is very true, that no-one can really stop a determined suicide. And it is a oxymoron to make it illegal but it's illegal because sometimes there's an attempt and it failed or was interrupted. Thus for their protection they're arrested and placed in a "safe" holding cell or room so that help can be given.
    As far as assisted suicide, I think that it should be allowed. Some are just too far gone and in terrible pain that no amount of drugs can diminish and they just physically cannot remove themselves as they would like. They got the "stones" just not the capacity to do so. What do you do for them?
    But that is in an extreme case where nothing else can be done for the person.
    I think that a terminal cancer patient (or other life taking illness) who has say; six weeks to six months to live should NOT commit suicide because that is time enough to do something for your fellow man or for your family.
    Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman are in a movie called The Bucket List http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0825232/ in it they selfishly do all the things that they've always wanted to do... living life to the fullest.

    Kacey is right, our views on suicide stems largely from religious beliefs and backgrounds. So hence it's illegal to try... here in the U.S. anyway.

    QUI-GON get those thoughts outta your head eh? We still need your invaluable input here on MT :D So no need to re-think it. Stick around for a while longer. We still love ya!
     
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  10. Steel Tiger

    Steel Tiger Senior Master

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    Suicide for the purposes of redeeming ones honour is not a concept wholly foreign to western thought. Before the advent of Judeo-Christian religious dominance many of the cultures of Europe had something like this in their cultural set. Consider the Spartans at Sphacteria. To the shock of the whole of Greece 290 Spartans, 120 of whom were Spartiates, surrendered when presented with a no win situation. The general belief was that they would die fighting or end their own lives.

    Patrician Romans would fall on their swords to preserve their honour (this later changed to taking poison). So the concept is not foreign to Europe per say, but it is foreign to Judeo-Christian tenants. Suicide is a sin. How does one honour thy mother and father and praise god by killing one's self?

    This became even clearer with the dominance of Catholicism. The Catholic Church changed the very nature of the commandment "Thou Shalt Do No Murder" by changing it to "Thou Shalt Not Kill". Thus committing suicide is killing, you get buried in unconsecrated ground and don't get to be part of the plan come Judgement Day. Simple.

    Of course the Church was a major influence on legal development so many religious ideas crept into law. One of these being that suicide was illegal. Now in most places it is no longer illegal, but it is illegal to try to kill yourself in many places.

    Many cultures around the world have traditions in which suicide and assisted suicide are ways for those for whom physical pain has become too severe, or who have lived a very long life and consider themselves a burden on their family, to end the suffering. Its not really part of ours anymore, if it ever was.

    We all have a fear of death, and thus suicide, because it is an unknown. Regardless of your religious position what happens after death is still not known. It may, however, appear more dire to those of us from a Christian background where death is often perceived as the ultimate end. One can imagine a Hindu not fearing death so much because he knows he will be reborn. Thus suicide might screw up his karma for a while but will not damn him for all eternity. And a Buddhist should never fear death, whatever form it might take. We have been trained by culture and tradition to see death as final, and suicide as very bad. Whether they are these things or not I don't know.

    My personal position on this is twofold. I can see it as a valid path for those who are in horrendous physical pain to end their suffering without becoming a huge burden on their families. But on the other hand, it is not a valid path for someone who just wants to give up because its all too hard. That's just a cop out. Now, I'm not talking about someone who has a serious mental illness and is having a hard time understanding the world, they need help dealing with their unbidden distorted perception of the world. I'm talking about those sad people who get themselves in a funk by reading depressing French poetry and think the world doesn't understand them. These people need to change, themselves, their circumstances, whatever it might be. But you can't change the world if you leave it.
     
  11. Cryozombie

    Cryozombie Grandmaster

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    So what about issues of things like Suffering from Terminal Cancer? How about "pulling the plug" on someone who is only alive because of the machine?
     
  12. Kacey

    Kacey Sr. Grandmaster

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    When my previous dog grew old and ill, I made the difficult decision to take her to the vet to have her put to sleep; she suffered a stroke and died before I could do so. My grandfather - who is 98, rarely lucid, incontinent, suffers from diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis so bad he can't use his hands, is deaf, and nearly blind, does not have that option. Nor would a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order help him in his current circumstances; the best we could legally do was place him in hospice (where he is now) and wait for him to die, which we have been doing for weeks. I know, from conversations I had with him in the past, that this ending horrified him earlier in his life - had he the option to have chosen euthanasia in this situation, we would all have supported it... but such an option does not exist for people.

    Once upon a time, the coup de grace was recognized to end the suffering of a person terminally injured, often in time of war; even the Church recognized and allowed for it - but the options for treatment and even maintenance in minimally alive states are much broader today than they were even a few years ago.

    The tricky question with euthanasia (or the coup de grace, if you prefer) is, of course - how incurably ill or permanently disabled would a person have to be to qualify for it? Who decides? The doctor? A panel of doctors? I signed a form for donation of my organs upon my death - would a similar form be sufficient? What about children? The elderly or disabled who are not competent to decide? Such questions are, I think, a key factor of why people would rather ban euthanasia for people than attempt to determine the potential conditions under which it would happen.
     
  13. Andy Moynihan

    Andy Moynihan Senior Master

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    I've never been able to understand it, this excessive heaping of value on the one thing that it's pretty much guaranteed nothing can stop you from losing.
     
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  14. rchurch

    rchurch Yellow Belt

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    Just a few weeks ago I read about a study on suicide where they concluded that humans have a "suicide gene" that if you have the gene you were very likely to commit suicide at some point in your life, and if you didn't have it you practically could not commit suicide. Something about the basic survival mode kicking in and stopping you. Sorry, I didn't read the study really close or even remember now where I saw it, so I have no real info to go on. Just reading this thread reminded me of the study. I did find it interesting about the basic survival mode not allowing you to do something you think you want to. And I'm not sure I agree with the finidings, either.
     
  15. MartialArtHeart

    MartialArtHeart Green Belt

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    Here's where I disagree with a lot of Christians. I DO believe that life is sacred... however... LIFE implies living, to me. I don't see how we are willing to put murderers out of their misery, but can't do it to our poor, suffering, terminally ill grandparents. When my grandma was dying of cancer, I got to the point where I just wanted her to die. I loved her like a mother, but seeing her suffering for months on end was too much. I wanted to give her a peaceful passage, but instead she died in agony... and it kills me to think about it. God has mercy... why can't we?

    As far as taking your own life when the emotional pain gets to be too much- you hurt too many people for it to be right. Believe me, I know. I understand BOTH sides... but I still believe that it's a selfish decision. Even when I was in turmoil and considered it- I knew it was too selfish to attempt.
     
  16. celtic_crippler

    celtic_crippler Senior Master

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    I'm a Libertarian and feel that it's nobody's business what one does with what is theirs as long as it does not harm another. Who are you to tell me what to do with my life? Who am I to tell you what to do with yours?

    If you want to kill yourself, go ahead. Just do it before you take out a classroom full of people that want to live. Suicide before homocide I say.

    Also, I do find it a contradiction that is is considered humane to put down an animal that is suffering, yet inhumane to afford the same courtesy to a person .....WTF? I personally prefer quality over quantity.....if my quality of life sucks...please let me die instead of wasting away in a hospital bed.

    My mother was a long-term-care RN for over 40 years and she has a living will that states under no circumstances is she to be kept alive by artificial means.
     
  17. MartialArtHeart

    MartialArtHeart Green Belt

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    I agree with you for the most part... but you DO hurt a lot of people when you kill yourself. Even when you try to. I've seen the effects it has had on other people, and there's no way that it doesn't harm anyone else.
     
  18. BrandiJo

    BrandiJo Master of Arts

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    iv been close to 2 people who have attempted to end their life. Believe me it hurts farm more then just the one person wanting to end their life. I might not physically show signs of harm but emotionally there is. My brother might not have any marks from what his wife has tried but i know there is harm. I hear it in his voice and read it in his words it hurts.

    It is a hurt that unlike physical marks and scares because this kind of hurt cant be healed by a Dr. You cant take a pill and make it all go away. You cant get a bandaid and stop the bleeding, and you rest untill it goes away, it just hurts and it hurts for a very very long time.
     
  19. celtic_crippler

    celtic_crippler Senior Master

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    Quite a few people know folks that've committed suicide, including me. We all probably know someone and quite possibly have been close to someone that is dead.

    The loss of someone you care about affects you regardless of the details of HOW they died.

    By "Harm" I mean endangering the welfare or life of another. Let's look at it from another perspective for the sake of argument:

    Let's say Joe-Bob is married with 2 kids. He has a chronic, incurable desiese. Scenario 1: Bob chooses euthenasia. The family is devastated at the loss, but will recover as everyone has to when a loved one dies. Scenario 2: Bob withers away over a period of several months. Day after day his family has to see him soil himself, writhe in agony and pain, basically suffering in the extreme. In the end, Joe-Bob still dies, but only after suffering horribly for several months or even years.

    Let's change the details of the illness, let's say Joe-Bob is just clinically depressed. Is Joe-Bob still suffering? What about the affect of his depression on his family? The bills, and emotional stress caused by keeping him alive and in hospitals and therapy? Is that much different than the chronic illness cited above? Joe-Bob is still suffering, and his family is still suffering with him; especially if he can't be "cured."

    In both instances the family truely suffers the longer the illness lasts, regardless of the type of illness. Is that not doing harm?

    Is it not a selfish act to keep someone alive, details be damned, that doesn't want to be kept alive? Are you not placing your wants and needs ahead of theirs? Just who is it about really? You or them?

    Just playing devil's advocate and giving you something to mull over.

    I miss a lot of folks that are no longer here. It doesn't really matter why or how they died in regards to how I feel about it. I prefer to celebrate how they lived and what they contributed to my life instead.
     
  20. BrandiJo

    BrandiJo Master of Arts

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    theres a difference between terminally ill and depressed. Depressed people can be helped, there are treatments out there that WORK, terminally ill people die. It sucks and its hard and i think that yes a terminally ill person should be able to choose to die with dignity however a depressed person should not, there is no dignity in killing yourself because you think that life is to hard and that your world sucks at this very moment because there are people who can help you if you let them. When a terminally ill person talks about ending their life it is to save themselfs and their family, when a person who is depressed does it is for selfish reasons it is because they feel they are not doing something right or that their life just sucks to much or that they feel they are to much of a burden on everyone else (lots of reason i could go on and on with the reasons that i have been told) but basiclly its a cop out, life isnt easy everyone knows that and everyone needs some kind of help at one point or another they just need to find the place to get help and accept that they too need it.

    I am making it very genearl i know there are much more complex reasons behind why people try to kill themselfs, but it all stems back to they need help and they need to accept that help when its offered not take a short cut
     

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