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When is suicide justified?

  1. Aug 2, 2006 #1
    I was wondering when is suicide justified? When one loses his meaning of life? sure, he could find another one and then another one and so on, but what if nothing works for him no more, would that be enough to justify him ending his life?

    Another scenario is when someone found his "true life", his calling in life, but doesn't get love in return, or when the person he lived with all his life suddenly packs up and leaves him - he can't survive without that person, so he ends his life - any justifications?

    Obviously, the euthanasia issue is also controversial.. and perhaps something that most people would probably agree with. When a person is under agonizing pain that even thinking hurts his whole body, ending it all would sound like a pretty decent choice for him (if he is suffering from a malignant cancer, or other deadly disease).

    Other cases could be extreme poverty, living on the streets, lack of goals and/or love in life, lack of any worthy shots at earning money to support oneself (either from lack of education/qualifications or other reasons), sudden bankruptcy (and thus, change of social status), cases of irrepairable physical damage (confined to a wheel chair), imprisonment, etc.

    So, overall, in what cases would you justify suicide or if nothing else, give it a contemplative whirl just for the sake of contributing to the topic even if you're against the practical realization of any such morbid acts?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 3, 2006 #2
    Losing meaning to life is no reason to end it. Having no meaning to life is neutral, having purpose in life in positive. And personally I think there IS no negative in this situation. There is no "less then no meaning to life", which is why I think suicide is bull**** and why it IS never justified (No, the neutral stance is not a reason, because your death will be of no benefit). And I myself would never give justice to it EVER.

    Despite the fact I would never give it justice to suicide, I would understand if someone commited suicide(or perhaps euthanasia) if he/she had no arms and legs and couldn't move or do anything and he/she was in perminant pain (maybe in their brain somewhere so they can't get pain killers for it) and all his/her friends died horribly infront of his/her own eyes. Then yeh, I would understand the suicide. But would that justify it? No way.

    Do I believe in the sanctity of life? Hell no but just because life isn't sanct doesn't justify any form of suicide, just like belief in the sanctity of life doesn't make suicide wrong.
  4. Aug 3, 2006 #3
    My opinion is that any reason to commit suicide automatically justifies it.
    In fact, a person will never need to justify any of his actions that doesn't involve others.

    Even though a persons suicide may affect other people are him, it's still his choice as a free human being.
    I'm not sure what you mean by justification in this context, because it seems to me no suicide needs justification.

    Also gelsamel I disagree with you strongly, there are plenty of negatives in life, and imo zero neutral ones.
  5. Aug 3, 2006 #4
    i believe that anyone in great pain has the right to suicied

    but people that kill themselves because of crime i dont agree with, because then they are just doing it to escape justice.
  6. Aug 3, 2006 #5
    Of course suicide doesn't NEED justification. Nothing ever needs justification. Just because something isn't justified isn't going to stop someone doing it. The OP just ask what does.

    And while there are negatives in life, like being hurt etc. I mean there is no negative stance on whether your life has meaning or not. There is only neutral and positive (in response to OPs reason of losing meaning).

    And star.torturer as well, everyone has the right to suicide. (unless you lived like 50 years ago in england when it was illegal! Ironic. Imagine being executed for repeated suicide attempts! xD) But what does justify it? Nothing. Does it need justification? Hell no. But that isn't going to stop me from labeling anyone who commits suicide as an emo bastard >:D.

    I have to say I'm biased though. I have never been depressed and doubt I ever will. I wouldn't be supprised if I am the person who cares least about anything in the world. I seriously don't care about image, what other people think, hell hardly even what I myself think. If something happens, oh well, it's not like I can change it at all. I've never had any bad thoughts about myself, or thoughts or suicide or self-degredation (physical or otherwise). When I think about it more I guess I'm just callous and apathetic. Oh well what can ya do ;).
  7. Aug 3, 2006 #6
    What do you consider as "great pain" - is it the inability to move, use one's hands/legs/eyes/etc or is it mental pain from the lose of a loved one or perhaps unrequited love?
  8. Aug 3, 2006 #7
    Physical and Mental pain qualifies
  9. Aug 3, 2006 #8


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    When we talk about whether suicide is "justified", we have to take into account whether the victim's plight is reversible. The trouble is that, often victims think nothing can be done to change their situation, when in fact, there are things that can be done. It is a matter of finding the right kind of help.

    And for this reason, we strongly discourage ANY form of suicide; the victims are the ones LEAST qualified to make a judgement about whether or not their plight can be mitigated.
  10. Aug 3, 2006 #9
    It also depends on whether you ask a moral relativist or moral absolutist, and even if an absolutist, the foundational principles of their absolutist moral philosophy.
  11. Aug 14, 2006 #10
    Ending one's life for being spurned by a lover makes no sense to me. This would probably stem up if the person has extremely low self-esteem and does not have any love or value for his own life (which can be basically applied for most suicide cases). The reasons could be traced back to his/her childhood.
  12. Aug 14, 2006 #11
    [0] if your life is meaningless to family/friends than i think it is justified...that is if noone "close" to you really cares about you...i'm glad I have a loving family. Otherwise I probably would have ended it years ago.
    [1] if you've spent many years hoping that life would get better but it doesn't change no matter what you have tried then I think it is justified.

    There is nothing to fear of death, there is only the fear of hurting others.
    Only an individual and perhaps those who have journeyed to the same point and have comeback know the mental or physically pain.
  13. Aug 14, 2006 #12
    It's never justified.

    Assisted suicide, on the other hand, is not suicide, because it's a decision to end a life that involves two or more people instead of one. Assisted suicide is not an entirely personal decision, but suicide is. It may be justified in situations with scarce resources, where there is an objectively shared realization that the death of one may prevent the death of others. As for ending pain? Ridiculous. Better to spend time on improving methods of reducing pain, which would help the next person to come along into a similar situation.

    Although, I suppose there is reason to spare a person from the feeling of having body parts fail one by one. It could seem beyond mere physical pain, to a kind of terrifying inner fear and trembling, a humiliating loss of self.

    But, then, I would personally find it more humiliating to admit that I could not face reality. The reality of death is not something I want to escape. It's something I'd rather prevent.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2006
  14. Aug 14, 2006 #13
    I think daveb and octelcogopod have found the rub of the topic. They're asking the right kinds of questions (without actually phrasing them as such). Obviously, we dislike the idea of death, especially when someone seeks it out. Seems we have to work out such issues to do justice to this topic:tongue2: Does accepting suicide as a possible course of action change us?

    If you're the last human on Earth, are you justified in taking your life? Does your answer depend on your duty to something else (the human species, whether or not others will miss you, your potential life)?

    And really quickly, has anyone seen "Last Night?" Is suicide a different kind of action in this context? (The world is ending in this movie about how people spend their last night on Earth).
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2006
  15. Aug 16, 2006 #14
    I haven't seen the movie, Swerve, but I don't think suicide is justified, even if you're the last person on Earth, for this reason that it is simply superfluous. Life will eventually end anyways, no matter what anyone does. Embracing life is a twisted form of suicide already, since life seems programmed to end at some point.

    So the decision to end one's life through suicide is not actually a decision to end life (since that is ultimately not up to us) but a decision to waste life.

    Wasting life means throwing away future possibilities that one cannot predict. One may be the last human on Earth, but not the last intelligent life form. Perhaps the machines running at SETI will pick up a signal while the last man on Earth is about to jump off a cliff. Would he want to miss that chance? :wink:
  16. Aug 16, 2006 #15
    Wow, I like your optimism. :smile:
  17. Aug 16, 2006 #16
    MICKEY: what happens,by some freak of nature, that you live 1000 years alone in the dark? Wouldn't it have been better to end it in the past whne everone else had died?
  18. Aug 16, 2006 #17
    I don't know if justified is the right word - it's like murder, it may be more proper to say it's understandable.

    Talking on a personal level my mother did commit suicide and my partner lost a brother to it as well. It always has to be the personal choice of the person doing it as it affects them firstly and foremost. To say it is justifiable brings it into the area of law and the right of others to judge the situation.

    I've been depressed enough to contemplate it too but despite the emotional pain, I never did it as you can see. Physically I've suffered from migraines for at least fifteen years, getting two attacks a month during certain spates of it but funnily enough I didn't feel suicidal, mainly because the state of the disease left me incapable of anything much at all with regards to thought or action but then, looking at it, could it be this was a form of death anyway?

    Talking about it on a moral level, you could call it cowardice because it is backing out of life. Personally I see it as refusing to take up a challenge life is offering you but as I say it boils down to personal choice on this issue. Somebody said in a post on another forum, that the only true emotion was anxiety as it was a question of being on the cusp of doing/not doing something and therefore was something we all shared (Hypography site, philosophy and humanities forum - actual thread I can't remember).
  19. Aug 16, 2006 #18
    Why should being alone in the dark for 1000 years mean that everyone else has died? You're alone in the dark, so how would you know? :rolleyes:

    I think I grasp the epistemological nature of your question. We could ask:

    To what extent can a person know that she is doomed, without the threat of a soon death?

    Those who would seek justification for suicide would assume that extremely high levels of knowledge about their own doom, without the threat of a soon death, are possible. They look for knowledge that things cannot be improved and circumstances will not change favorably. Those who seek justification for suicide seek a position of omniscience.

    One would think that omniscience would solve more problems than it would create, but it's not entirely out of the question. Perhaps God justifiably committed suicide. o:)
  20. Aug 16, 2006 #19
    "Those who seek justification for suicide seek a position of omniscience."
    Or they could have seen the lowest of the lows from an early age. And have seen life not improve no matter what they attempt to do, and then have come to realize the qualities they were missing to acheive a certain satisfactory state of life were never routed as a kid, and then must come to the decision of whether it is worth it in attempting to acheive that behavioural state.
  21. Aug 16, 2006 #20
    There's that word, "lowest." How do you know what the absolute endpoint of low is? To declare that one has had the lowest of the lows has such a pseudo-omniscient finality to it, don't you think?
    "A certain satisfactory state of life" wouldn't be worth it?

    If not, then maybe that makes sense after all. Behaviors aren't states. They're dynamic phenomena. Behavior stretches across time, modifying everything that contacts it, including one's own mind and character.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2006
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