Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Why is Suicide Wrong?

I'm not an advocate for suicide- other than species suicide perhaps, although I prefer to think of antinatalism as a proactive alternative to the need for suicide- but this morning's visit to The View From Hell has prompted me to do some Googling to find out why people believe that suicide is wrong. In my searching, I came across this tidy little list:

1.Suicide is FOREVER. You do not get to wake up. You do not get a second chance. You will not be able to say, "Wait, I want to stay." There is no turning back.

2.Think about the situation in grisly fact. Someone will have to find your body, and most likely it will be someone who loves and cares for you. They will bear this in their memory for the rest of their lives.

3.If you kill yourself at someone else’s hand, such as laying in front of a car or train or forcing a police officer to kill you, know that these people will bear the brunt of the emotional turmoil and will always wish that it could have been different.

4.There may be people standing on the sidelines, knowing that you are in pain and wishing that they could help you. These people will suffer forever in guilt, wondering if there was more they could have done or said to change your mind. They will blame themselves.

5.The repercussions go far beyond this. Friends or family members may grow so despondent that they, in turn, take their own lives.

6.Most newspapers will not even mention your name after death by suicide.

Here are my brief response:

1.Death is FOREVER. Everybody dies. There is no turning back, once you've been born.

2.Which speaks to the need of integrating suicide optionality into the cultural psyche in such a way that it becomes a viable, acceptable alternative. Irrational stigma is a HUGE factor here, and a little softening of societal denialism could work wonders in taking the edge off.

3.Ah, the old guilt trip rears its ugly head yet again. Remember, life was the burden foisted on the unfortunate chappy for the benefit of persons other than himself. Contrariwise, suicide is a gift he gives himself.

4.More guilting. On the other hand, an enlightened and sympathetic person might think "Wow, she's finally released from her pain. Though it hurts me to lose her, she is finally at peace. And, after all, I'm headed for the same destination in short order, one way or the other. God bless her!"

5.Yeesh! Guilt, upon guilt, upon guilt! I mean, really- at some point, you just have to say fuck 'em if they can't take a joke, don't you?

6.Is this a comment on social denialism reflected in the press, or are they merely pointing out that shortly after your death you're forgotten by almost everybody? If the former, then I'd say this simply reflects society's general immaturity when it comes to looking reality square in the face. If the latter, well...DUH! We are the future's dirt.

http://www.suite101.com/content/why-is-suicide-wrong-a78231

58 comments:

Sister Y said...

I love your explanations - poetic and paradoxically vital.

Some more answers to dumb objections here.

And my outline of the perceived harms of suicide and why none of them are good objections to a right to comfortable suicide.

metamorphhh said...

Well, S., when I have you to do the heavy lifting, all's left for me to do is the embroidery...rock on! :)

Francois Tremblay said...

Are you a fellow Subgenius by any chance? Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke, indeed. :)

metamorphhh said...

Francois:

Well, if I'm to be defined by the plethora of perspicacious pundits inhabiting this blogomine, I'm certainly sub-something. :)

Sister Y said...

I wanted to mention - I had an incredibly civil discussion of antinatalism last night with a hot babe who runs a baby boutique!

It's all bout presentation.

Francois Tremblay said...

Geesh. You guys need to share your arguing tips.

Tim Cooijmans said...

I am in favor of euthanasia a snap of the fingers away, but I do think that it is not without problems. In a society where suicide is considered no big deal, whether by the suicide or by their environment, what is to stop someone from living recklessly at others' expenses and then evade the consequences by offing themselves?

Sister Y may have already discussed this somewhere; if so, feel free to point me to her treatment.

Francois Tremblay said...

Tim: I think your objection is problematic because of the "living at other people's expense" part, not because they escape the consequences by killing themselves. The problem is that we live in societies where people are allowed to live at other people's expense, whether they kill themselves afterwards or not.

Sister Y said...

Tim, it's a deep objection.

There is no doubt that reducing the costs of suicide raises the welfare floor (presumably to 0). However, to some degree, the threat of really bad consequences (welfare << 0) seems necessary to get people to act right (not drive other people's welfare way down below zero).

The idea is, we have to keep the torture-rapists with leprosy-AIDS in line somehow, and the only way to do that is with really bad consequences. Easy suicide removes the credibility of the threat of those consequences.

I guess this needs to be unpacked into deterrence theory and retribution theory. Deterrence theory is about setting the optimal disincentives for things; making suicide costly would increase incentive for torture-rapists with leprosy-AIDS to act right and be nice. But (1) how much, (2) cui bono, and (3) at whose expense?

(1) Not much (or in other words, prove it would be large), (2) nonsuicidal people (happy people), (3) suicidal people (miserable people). Making happy, nonsuicidal people a tiny bit safer must be weighed against the massive welfare costs to suicidal people in being forced to remain alive for their entire natural lifespans.

As for retribution, I don't buy it.

Sister Y said...

BTW - arguing tips (I don't plan this out ahead of time, this is from self-observation and observation of what seems to work):

1. Establish rapport and status as a basically good person. Ideally, have some social connection to your interlocutor.
2. Be ever-aware of the strangeness of the position. This demonstrates that you have insight into the fact that your position is socially unusual, and you're not a Crazy Person. For me, this takes the place of lots of incredulous giggling as I lay out the conclusions. I don't know how this would translate to men; giggling is a pretty gender-specific self-deprecatory behavior.
3. Realize you could learn something, and actually listen to objections and comments.

Francois Tremblay said...

Yea... I definitely would do very poorly on all these points. I think I'll leave the deconverting to other people... lol

Stacy said...

The people I really don't understand are the ones who think someone severely ill should not commit suicide. My aunt's husband committed suicide by shooting himself when he was in the later stages of Huntington's disease, and I think in his situation it made sense for him to do that.

metamorphhh said...

Stacy, it saddens me that he had to commit such brutality against himself. After all the other stuff, his inability to secure a more acceptable end is the final insult, isn't it?

Stacy said...

Jim, I agree. His daughter who is my cousin went ahead and had three children without knowing if she had the gene or not, which I think was extremely irresponsible of her. If someone does not want to test for it normally that is their business, but I think it is a different issue when someone decides to have children. She discovered that she did have the gene when she began showing symptoms. She is now at the point she cannot work anymore. So she has three young children who she is no longer able to take care of, and who each have a 50% chance that they might have Huntington's too. It is part of what convinced me to be an antinatalist.

Anonymous said...

To paraphrase the great philosopher Authur Schopenhauer, what right does a human have if not to their own life?

Sharkbabe said...

A truly humane and compassionate culture would have a euthanasia booth on every block, and an abortion clinic on every other block.

Anonymous said...

abortion prevents suicide

Garrett said...

Hey Jim. Kinda (totally) off topic, but I found something I think you'd dig! http://analogdilemma.blogspot.com/2011/06/how-i-would-like-to-go-to-sleep-every.html

filrabat said...

SisterY: It's all bout presentation.

Right you are! That's how I came out of the closet to mom and my brother a few months ago!

happypill said...

The basic premise here is that life is suffering, so we should not bring life into the world, right? Well, why not just make life not so bad? Change the system, or put everyone on opiates or some other happy pill?

Francois Tremblay said...

"Well, why not just make life not so bad? Change the system, or put everyone on opiates or some other happy pill?"

1. And how the hell do you propose that human society will change so much that this will happen?

2. What would be the point of such an existence?

happypill said...

"1. And how the hell do you propose that human society will change so much that this will happen?

2. What would be the point of such an existence?"

1. Legislation, reform, revolution, etc. Societies can change and have been changed in any number of ways.

2. Why must life have a point? What is the point of preventing life after all? Ending suffering right? So, ending suffering is the point.

Francois Tremblay said...

"1. Legislation, reform, revolution, etc. Societies can change and have been changed in any number of ways."

Bullshit. Name one one occasion at which societies were changed to that profound of a level that you're demanding, with legislation or reform.


"2. Why must life have a point? What is the point of preventing life after all? Ending suffering right? So, ending suffering is the point."

That's dumb. If no one is born, there's no suffering left to end. So why do you persist in applying little Dora the Explorer band-aids to a gangrenous arm?

happypill said...

"Bullshit. Name one one occasion at which societies were changed to that profound of a level that you're demanding, with legislation or reform."

Societies have been changed in various ways, some deep, some deeper. For example, Jim Crow was ended, in part, through legislation. The transformation from the NEP to collectivization of agriculture in the Soviet Union was a profound change that was legislated (albeit by a revolutionary regime). The same is true of the collectivization in China after the New Democratic period. These were extremely profound changes that were instituted in various ways, including legislation, by revolutionary regimes. Other regimes have abolished money or even sought to eliminate whole peoples through genocide, in part, through legislation.

2. If the end of suffering is the goal, then there are any number of ways of ending it or at least mitigating it short of not having children. In fact, not having children is a kind of maximum program that will never get implemented, so rather than focusing on pie in the sky ways to end suffering (as you see it), why not address the issue in a real way?

What I am wondering here is if all the talk of ending suffering is really just a kind of cover for anti-humanism. Is it just a way to put a noble or seemingly moral facade on bitterness and misanthropy? If people really wanted to end or reduce suffering, there are plenty of real, obvious ways to go about it.

Francois Tremblay said...

That's not what I asked you. I asked you to give us examples of societies which have changed in such a dramatic fashion as would be necessary to attempt to abolish harm, which is what would be needed for procreation to be ethically neutral. We're basically talking about the abolition of all existing institutions and a complete reformulation and articulation of the core purpose of that society.


"In fact, not having children is a kind of maximum program that will never get implemented, so rather than focusing on pie in the sky ways to end suffering (as you see it), why not address the issue in a real way?"


What is pie in the sky about it? It's really easy for you to not have children. It's easy for any of us to not have children, if we want to. One child not conceived not only spares that much harm, but also spares the harm of hundreds and thousands of descendents.


"What I am wondering here is if all the talk of ending suffering is really just a kind of cover for anti-humanism. Is it just a way to put a noble or seemingly moral facade on bitterness and misanthropy?"

How is it bitter or misanthropic to want to minimize the harm that occurs on this planet? How is it bitter or misanthropic to look at a child dying of starvation, or an elephant being eaten alive by tigers, and say "this shouldn't ever happen"?

You have a very, very strange definition of "bitterness" and "misanthropy."


"If people really wanted to end or reduce suffering, there are plenty of real, obvious ways to go about it."

No there's not. Stop playing make-believe, this is not a church or a parliament.

happypill said...

I'm going to bow out because by the caliber of your responses, you don't seem serious to me. It seems like we are two trolls trolling each other.

In any case, if people really want to end suffering, or at least mitigate it, there are plenty of ways of doing it. You can work for education, peace, justice, reform, revolution, etc. You can change the way you live. There are plenty of ways to change the world. Read some history.

I will give you some parting advice. There will not be a mass movement to end birth or whatever. It is something that people will never rally to en masse. The only way to implement your programme, be it reasonable or not, is to attach it to a revolutionary vehicle that is capable of seizing power and willing to implementing radical social changes. In other words, you'd need to engage in entryism on a capable revolutionary force. You'd have to infiltrate a real revolutionary organization, make yourselves useful, get into the leadership, then push for your line within the organization. Then, after seizing power, you'd have to implement it.

I'm out.

Francois Tremblay said...

"I'm going to bow out because by the caliber of your responses, you don't seem serious to me. It seems like we are two trolls trolling each other."

No... just you buddy, just you. I am dead serious. You, apparently, are still in fairy land.


"In any case, if people really want to end suffering, or at least mitigate it, there are plenty of ways of doing it. You can work for education, peace, justice, reform, revolution, etc. You can change the way you live. There are plenty of ways to change the world. Read some history."

You don't understand the scope of what you're talking about. Sorry. Read more on the topic of evolution and biology before you spout these strange beliefs to other people.

Karl said...

@happypill: As has generally been proven by history, revolutions on a grand scale have only ever led to a sudden increase in the scale and intensity of human suffering as the new rulers attempt to suddenly implement their vision of utopia. Mentioning Soviet Russia or Mao's China doesn't exactly help your cause. Revolutoniary thinking still labours under the delusion that by tweaking the knobs, life becomes worthwhile and humans reveal their innate goodness. To anyone who reads history or reflects seriously on the human condition, this is obviously not the case.

Anonymous said...

if you are burnt alive in a horrible car-crash your happy pills wont help you

Garrett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rae said...

i have been waiting for a natural death although i wish my death would've come much sooner. i spend about all of my time in bed or on the couch...often times daydreaming about going swimming (i used to go swimming when i was a kid...the symptoms didnt start taking over till i was about 12 altho i already had the malformed body and face). but the reason i stay is because i don't want to leave my family behind and i don't want to leave the animals behind. not to mention the idea of doing the act of suicide is very scary to me. so....i am stuck waiting. however i am planning not to do much if anything as far as future medical treatments.

Garrett said...

"I'm going to bow out because by the caliber of your responses, you don't seem serious to me. It seems like we are two trolls trolling each other."

Happypill, it seems far more likely that you are leaving the conversation because you are only presenting the same egocentric and infantile arguments as every other human who worships DNA. You keep fixating on this obsession with the virtues of collectivism and the idea that life is "basically good", and that non existent entities (a.k.a., ideas) desire to become part of this world so they can shovel food down their throats, fornicate, and defecate. Stop projecting your personal feelings onto other things... it's pathetic. By the way, please, knock off the misanthropy accusation crap. It's such garbage, and you know it. I don't desire that ANYTHING should be born; I take care of those living things that are already here. Think about it a little and stop the collectivist anthropocentric obsessing. Your desire to control others will ultimately be your downfall. Unfortunately, it will be theirs as well... should you decide to impose your personal desire to breed.

Although, you're probably just trolling. So there's your food for thought... wouldn't want to overfeed the troll now, would I? ;)

Garrett said...

I am so sorry about your predicament Rae. I personally don't have to deal with painful physical deformities like yourself, but it's really just a matter of time. Eventually (unless I'm one of the lucky ones who get killed in a swift and unexpected accident) we all start down the pointless descent into infirmity. I've also spent time pondering the purpose behind the insane behavior that plagues every species on the planet. I don't see a purpose in it, and I don't see any necessity in perpetuating it. I've reached a point in my life where I treat them all as individuals with their own needs and desires. The change in my point of view, caused me to become a vegan and I extricated myself from a budding career as an apprentice tiger trainer. Controlling others is bad juju. Self mastery however, ah, now that's the real challenge. I wish you all the best in this life (not much to offer, I'm afraid) and I hope you can find some solace in knowing that this madness cannot persist forever.

Anonymous said...

My mother, a woman who would walk over coals for me, would surely have a psychotic breakdown if I topped myself. It was from her and her family line that I inherited my "illness". I think it's for her I'm sticking around for now. No shame in that, even if one believes in the moral right to suicide. She is 80.

Can anyone relate?

Karl said...

@rae I agree with everything Garrett says, my friend. I hope somehow you are able to derive some sort of consolation from conversing with fellow-spirits on this and the other blogs.

@Garrett: Apprentice tiger-trainer! Fascinating! You'll have to tell more!

@Anonymous: Thomas Ligotti once said in an interview that one of the reasons that would make him hold off from suicide is his attachment to his family members, and the need to wait for them to die first, so you're not the only one, my friend.

TGGP said...

Off-topic, but a character expresses ethical antinatalism in a Pakistani movie:
http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/6540/bol-speaking-silence/
Hat-tip to Zachary at Brown Pundits.

Todd said...

@Anonymous

Absolutely! The only difference is that my parents are both in their early 50s, so statistically I've got a longer stretch of time to try and somehow muddle through.

They want me to have kids too, of course, but that's where I draw my line in the sand. I won't break their hearts by killing myself (or at least, as my dad would say, I'll "give it the old college try"), but I refuse to repeat their mistakes. I take some comfort in knowing that my non-kids won't have to thank me for it. :)

I think that's pretty much all any of us can do about it, other than "evangelizing" (such as it is). Be well, do good work, keep in touch, and don't create people; that's a four-step plan I can get behind!

Anonymous said...

Christ, Todd, I recently turned 51, although I neither look nor "feel" that age! No vanity, far from it, I've just always looked young for my age. I could probably pass to most for 35. My normal heterosexual sex drive is perversely kept in check by my horror of conceiving a child, a problem most guys don't seem to have...Just rambling, brother.

Cactus Jack said...

I have of late been striving to make myself aware of suicides in my community. A rather sobering experience indeed. Again, those intense questions can be posed. How many people living these miserable suicidal circumstances is ok with you? Would you care to live that? Non existent people you say? Ha! Non existent empathy!

rae said...

@garrett....thank you, i also would like to hear more about the tiger training thing. you are right because from the moment we are born we all start to die. its just that the deterioration is far more evident & faster in myself than in most people. i am in my 20's but function more like a 90 year old.
@karl...yes i am thrilled to find a blog like this with some like minded people. i have to put on a smile for everybody all the time even tho its a fake smile. at least here i can be real.

Anonymous said...

rae: Just remember that you are not alone. However cold a comfort that might be to you.

Garrett said...

Karl and Rae: I'll definitely expand on my apprenticeship experience in a little while.

Anon: Yes, I can relate to your position. My parents are decent people. My mom has apologized for the imposition, but she still wants lots of grandchildren. No freakin' way will she get them from me. Unfortunately, my younger brother has recently married and reproduced, so the insanity marches on in their genetic line. My youngest bro seems a little more understanding about life being an imposition... his view may be slowly changing to the antinatal side. My dad on the other hand responded thusly: "I'm sorry you feel that way". So, he isn't apologetic, but he is sorry that I feel the way that I do. Pretty much implies an arrogant attitude of "There's nothing wrong with my point of view, you just need to change the way you see things". Yeah... right. Fortunately, we have some common ground, and I'm not losing sleep over his feelings regarding the issue of creating new life. He'll just have to wait and see how shitty it gets as he ages.

Rae: I hope you didn't get the idea that I was dismissing your condition. I can't imagine how you must feel being trapped in that body. I didn't mean to sound insensitive, I'm sorry. Yeah, It's nice to have a place that's lets you be honest, isn't it?

rae said...

@garrett....no need to apologize, i didnt think you were trivializing my condition. what you said is true, everybody is going to suffer and die eventually. i can never tell my mother that i wish she didnt have me. she is too emotionally fragile to hear that. my father has had a very emotionally distant relationship with me since my early years (he never wanted a disabled child)

@anonymous...thank you.

Anonymous said...

I also think I don't want children because I don't want them to suffer. I'm a promiscuous girl who has been haunted by the sexual double standard (he's a stud, she's a slut) since I first had oral sex at age 13. I remained a virgin until the age of 22 to make society proud of me, but nobody cared, they would all say "why do you always tell people that?" But promiscuous guys get a pat on the back. And my first boyfriend was a stud who cheated on me and got a free pass from my peers ("he's a guy, what do you expect?") I was so depressed and angry about the unfairness of the situation that I rebelled and because a stripper and eventually a prostitute. I got therapy and the therapist said "you must foster a deep, abiding acceptance of your sexuality, whatever you choose it to be." I felt healed to find someone who accepts me and then I encountered many people on the internet who also don't support the double standard and who are also slutty strippers. But sometimes the double standard still haunts me.

I don't want to repeat this pattern in a little girl. Sooner or later the topic comes up. It would be painful to watch her complain about the unfairness of the situation or to watch her conform to avoid being punished. S/He won't be me, s/he'll be someone else with different values. What if s/he supports the same injustice that has brought me so much pain?

Sometimes I fantasize about having a beautiful daughter who is my clone. It seems very fun to have a mini-me to play with. But that seems like a fantasy and not worth the risk. I don't want my daughter to be ashamed of me and make my life miserable, I don't want nosy people to tell me I'm a bad mom and impose their will on me, and I don't want to witness my daughter get bullied like I have been.

I also still believe in God even though I hate it. I'm afraid to go to hell for being agnostic. What if I do end up in hell? What if my fantasy daughter ended up there too?

One thing that confuses me though: the guy who runs this website has two daughters. What gives?

Srikant said...

This is coming considerably after the blog, and will likely be missed.

If all stigma were removed, we could actually let our friends and family know we wish to die, and explain, instead of jumping down a building and giving explanations -- or not -- later. And if it doesn't actually change our decision, it will at least prepare them all for our passing.

Sister Y said...

Yes. A great portion of the tragic nature of suicide is simply due to the suicide prohibition. (Also, the the stupid idea that suicides can and should be prevented, and that family members are negligent for not seeing the "signs" and preventing the suicide. Suicide is not necessarily anyone's fault but the the decedent's.)

Suicide need not be any more tragic than a death from cancer or heart disease - and could be considerably less tragic, as there's no loss of desired life for the dying person.

Sharkbabe said...

I found it very liberating the day I decided to stop stigmatizing my wish to be gone (per societal brainwash) as mental illness and instead honor it as the mental health it is.

My suicide note would consist of two sentences: "Thanks for the good." And "This is not sad."

Garrett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Garrett said...

Anonymous: I don't know if you are the same person who posed the same question about Jim's daughters in "Laughter is a Muscle Spasm", but either way please see my answer in that blog post.

As for your concerns regarding the potential outcomes of the life of your imaginary child, these are indeed valid. Remember, when you reproduce, you are not re-creating yourself. You are creating a new individual. That individual will not necessarily carry your preferences, personal values, intelligence, physical attributes, etc... and even if it does, we all NECESSARILY overestimate the "goodness" of these attributes in ourselves. It would be a sovereign entity and wholly separate from your person. When dealing with the complexity of an abstract concept (a potential being that is not made physically manifest in this universe), philanthropic antinatalism demands that we err on the side of caution by not creating something out of nothing. You cannot deprive a non-existent entity (potential human) by not reproducing. Especially when it is a guarantee that this being will suffer to some extent in it's life, and will eventually die anyway. Why do you believe that this child would love and revere you, considering the way you feel about your personal concept of God? If you respect the concept of a benevolent creator God, then you wage a war of attrition against that deity by usurping creative power that should, by all rights, rest solely within It's capabilities. Nevermind the insane propaganda that humanity has littered our history with in the form of religion. They have twisted the concept into a deranged monstrosity that is madly in love with itself. DNA is 100% narcissistic and nihilistic.

If you truly love the innocence of children, then do not sully their purity by forcing them into a fallen world. Do not seek to make yourself an object of worship, when you are equally filthy, just as the rest of us. If you love God, then leave the creativity in It's hands. A loving God did not create this universe - we did. That is why everything is wrong.

The only people who are ready to have children will recognize that they should never have children. Let that settle in for a moment. Consider taking care of and befriending beings that already exist here.

If you believe that a deity of perfect love and forgiveness exists outside of our situation, why would you fear judgement? If you focus entirely on that energy, you will not waste your time pursuing human approval, sex, and hoping to live vicariously through DNA.

Having children is ALWAYS a selfish endeavor and it is ALWAYS at the expense of someone other than yourself. Please, do not gamble with other people's money.

All the best

FLP said...

One thing that I think is often ignored or overlooked is the fact that people have to actually try to stay alive in order to stay alive. Life isn't some joyride where all one is required to do is lie in a bed of daisies until his or her death; you have to actively prolong it or suffer terrible consequences. I question how ethical it is to make it obligatory for someone to have to actively prolong their life when it's clear they'd rather not.

FLP said...

The end result of a lack of trying to stay alive is death. Suicide is simply a much easier shortcut.

Anonymous said...

I so understand, FLP. Were it not for the misery it would cause my parents, I would be gone!

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Karl said...

I was in central London the other night and approaching a tube station. A big crowd were milling about outside. Apparently someone had thrown themselves in front a train and been killed. Any expressions of sympathy from the crowd? No. Just "What a pain in the arse", "How am I going to get home now?", "I'll be late for the game" etc. People are CUNTS.

Francois Tremblay said...

Hahahaha... I sympathize with the suicide, but I do agree it is a pain in the ass when you depend on public transport to get anywhere.

Sid Lentz said...

After reading your lucid post I realized that everything I do is done out of guilt or fear.

I go to work not because I have goals or dreams, but because I am concerned about what others will think if I am a homeless drifter with crunchy pants.

I talk to people not because I like them, but because I don't want to be thought of as a freak.

I get out of bed on the weekends because I am afraid of going insane and rotting away.

Karl said...

Sid, I feel your pain, buddy. I think there are so many of us out there. The older you get, the harder it is to get out of that bed! Hope it helps a little to know you're not the only one.

Anonymous said...

i like the color scheme of this blog. and also agree with the antinatalists. whats all this procreation propaganda going around? whence comes it? its filthy and wicked and full of falsehood.

The propagation of the flesh has no claim on blessed Reason.