Skip to comments.Suicide - The Murder of Oneself
Posted on 08/07/2010 8:36:45 PM PDT by TwoLegsGood
Those who believe in the finality of death (i.e., that there is no after-life) they are the ones who advocate suicide and regard it as a matter of personal choice.
On the other hand, those who firmly believe in some form of existence after corporeal death they condemn suicide and judge it to be a major sin.
Yet, rationally, the situation should have been reversed: it should have been easier for someone who believed in continuity after death to terminate this phase of existence on the way to the next. Those who faced void, finality, non-existence, vanishing should have been greatly deterred by it and should have refrained even from entertaining the idea. Either the latter do not really believe what they profess to believe or something is wrong with rationality. One would tend to suspect the former.
Suicide is very different from self-sacrifice, avoidable martyrdom, engaging in life risking activities, refusal to prolong one's life through medical treatment, euthanasia, overdosing and self inflicted death that is the result of coercion. What is common to all these is the operational mode: a death caused by one's own actions. In all these behaviours, a foreknowledge of the risk of death is present coupled with its acceptance. But all else is so different that they cannot be regarded as belonging to the same class. Suicide is chiefly intended to terminate a life the other acts are aimed at perpetuating, strengthening and defending values.
Those who commit suicide do so because they firmly believe in the finiteness of life and in the finality of death. They prefer termination to continuation. Yet, all the others, the observers of this phenomenon, are horrified by this preference. They abhor it. This has to do with out understanding of the meaning of life.
Ultimately, life has only meanings that we attribute and ascribe to it. Such a meaning can be external (God's plan) or internal (meaning generated through arbitrary selection of a frame of reference). But, in any case, it must be actively selected, adopted and espoused. The difference is that, in the case of external meanings, we have no way to judge their validity and quality (is God's plan for us a good one or not?). We just "take them on" because they are big, all encompassing and of a good "source". A hyper-goal generated by a superstructural plan tends to lend meaning to our transient goals and structures by endowing them with the gift of eternity. Something eternal is always judged more meaningful than something temporal. If a thing of less or no value acquires value by becoming part of a thing eternal than the meaning and value reside with the quality of being eternal not with the thing thus endowed. It is not a question of success. Plans temporal are as successfully implemented as designs eternal. Actually, there is no meaning to the question: is this eternal plan / process / design successful because success is a temporal thing, linked to endeavours that have clear beginnings and ends.
This, therefore, is the first requirement: our life can become meaningful only by integrating into a thing, a process, a being eternal. In other words, continuity (the temporal image of eternity, to paraphrase a great philosopher) is of the essence. Terminating our life at will renders them meaningless. A natural termination of our life is naturally preordained. A natural death is part and parcel of the very eternal process, thing or being which lends meaning to life. To die naturally is to become part of an eternity, a cycle, which goes on forever of life, death and renewal. This cyclic view of life and the creation is inevitable within any thought system, which incorporates a notion of eternity. Because everything is possible given an eternal amount of time so are resurrection and reincarnation, the afterlife, hell and other beliefs adhered to by the eternal lot.
Sidgwick raised the second requirement and with certain modifications by other philosophers, it reads: to begin to appreciate values and meanings, a consciousness (intelligence) must exist. True, the value or meaning must reside in or pertain to a thing outside the consciousness / intelligence. But, even then, only conscious, intelligent people will be able to appreciate it.
We can fuse the two views: the meaning of life is the consequence of their being part of some eternal goal, plan, process, thing, or being. Whether this holds true or does not a consciousness is called for in order to appreciate life's meaning. Life is meaningless in the absence of consciousness or intelligence. Suicide flies in the face of both requirements: it is a clear and present demonstration of the transience of life (the negation of the NATURAL eternal cycles or processes). It also eliminates the consciousness and intelligence that could have judged life to have been meaningful had it survived. Actually, this very consciousness / intelligence decides, in the case of suicide, that life has no meaning whatsoever. To a very large extent, the meaning of life is perceived to be a collective matter of conformity. Suicide is a statement, writ in blood, that the community is wrong, that life is meaningless and final (otherwise, the suicide would not have been committed).
This is where life ends and social judgement commences. Society cannot admit that it is against freedom of expression (suicide is, after all, a statement). It never could. It always preferred to cast the suicides in the role of criminals (and, therefore, bereft of any or many civil rights). According to still prevailing views, the suicide violates unwritten contracts with himself, with others (society) and, many might add, with God (or with Nature with a capital N). Thomas Aquinas said that suicide was not only unnatural (organisms strive to survive, not to self annihilate) but it also adversely affects the community and violates God's property rights. The latter argument is interesting: God is supposed to own the soul and it is a gift (in Jewish writings, a deposit) to the individual. A suicide, therefore, has to do with the abuse or misuse of God's possessions, temporarily lodged in a corporeal mansion. This implies that suicide affects the eternal, immutable soul. Aquinas refrains from elaborating exactly how a distinctly physical and material act alters the structure and / or the properties of something as ethereal as the soul. Hundreds of years later, Blackstone, the codifier of British Law, concurred. The state, according to this juridical mind, has a right to prevent and to punish for suicide and for attempted suicide. Suicide is self-murder, he wrote, and, therefore, a grave felony. In certain countries, this still is the case. In Israel, for instance, a soldier is considered to be "army property" and any attempted suicide is severely punished as being "attempt at corrupting army possessions". Indeed, this is paternalism at its worst, the kind that objectifies its subjects. People are treated as possessions in this malignant mutation of benevolence. Such paternalism acts against adults expressing fully informed consent. It is an explicit threat to autonomy, freedom and privacy. Rational, fully competent adults should be spared this form of state intervention. It served as a magnificent tool for the suppression of dissidence in places like Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany. Mostly, it tends to breed "victimless crimes". Gamblers, homosexuals, communists, suicides the list is long. All have been "protected from themselves" by Big Brothers in disguise. Wherever humans possess a right there is a correlative obligation not to act in a way that will prevent the exercise of such right, whether actively (preventing it), or passively (reporting it). In many cases, not only is suicide consented to by a competent adult (in full possession of his faculties) it also increases utility both for the individual involved and for society. The only exception is, of course, where minors or incompetent adults (the mentally retarded, the mentally insane, etc.) are involved. Then a paternalistic obligation seems to exist. I use the cautious term "seems" because life is such a basic and deep set phenomenon that even the incompetents can fully gauge its significance and make "informed" decisions, in my view. In any case, no one is better able to evaluate the quality of life (and the ensuing justifications of a suicide) of a mentally incompetent person than that person himself.
The paternalists claim that no competent adult will ever decide to commit suicide. No one in "his right mind" will elect this option. This contention is, of course, obliterated both by history and by psychology. But a derivative argument seems to be more forceful. Some people whose suicides were prevented felt very happy that they were. They felt elated to have the gift of life back. Isn't this sufficient a reason to intervene? Absolutely, not. All of us are engaged in making irreversible decisions. For some of these decisions, we are likely to pay very dearly. Is this a reason to stop us from making them? Should the state be allowed to prevent a couple from marrying because of genetic incompatibility? Should an overpopulated country institute forced abortions? Should smoking be banned for the higher risk groups? The answers seem to be clear and negative. There is a double moral standard when it comes to suicide. People are permitted to destroy their lives only in certain prescribed ways.
And if the very notion of suicide is immoral, even criminal why stop at individuals? Why not apply the same prohibition to political organizations (such as the Yugoslav Federation or the USSR or East Germany or Czechoslovakia, to mention four recent examples)? To groups of people? To institutions, corporations, funds, not for profit organizations, international organizations and so on? This fast deteriorates to the land of absurdities, long inhabited by the opponents of suicide.
Thou shalt NOT kill... even yourself.
The commandment says thou shall not murder.
That’s why I need to remain anti-abortion and anti-death penalty. Talking anothers life is wrong except to protect ones own life.
I’ve had 3 good friends commit suicide. Very painful.
“Those who believe in the finality of death (i.e., that there is no after-life) they are the ones who advocate suicide and regard it as a matter of personal choice”
I heard of this guy - he’s written various article on the timing that Israel might strike Iran. Like a lot of folks, the time periods he expected have long passed but he keeps talking about new ones.
King James says, “kill”.
Well it’s bound to happen sooner or later, emphasize sooner.
Thanks for sharing but don’t ask me to join the Hemlock Society.
I do not believe it is an unpardonable sin, and took some small comfort in that myself recently.
The writer to the Hebrews wraps up the loose ends pretty good, "It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).
“dont ask me to join the Hemlock Society.”
Whatever that is?
King James says “kill” but look up the Hebrew word for it in the concordance...
Meaning you contemplated taking a personal life of an individual, not some random shooting, battlekill, or accident. Murder originates in the heart, and it is the heart that God sees. Killing is not the same as Murder.
It’s a suicide club. Had a weird neighbor who was into it. Spooky, like a Dr. Kovorkian club.
Can’t argue with that.
To sleep, perchance to dream. Aye, there’s the rub!
“...if one is willing to take their own life, then they seem more prone to take someone else’s life, too.”
Think what you just said and you’ll realize that you have described the Muslim philosophy.
Yuck you right.
I did for years, but God has a way of winning debates :)
And then there are those who support suicide because they smell money.
interesting piece, but you won’t get far making a rational argument to someone who’s suicidal because of mental anguish. Their immediate situation is so bad that they just want it to end, and whatever comes next doesn’t really matter to them. I’ve never been that bad off, but I’ve suffered bouts of depression that were pretty bad. I have a lot of compassion for someone in that situation. I have to believe a loving God would look kindly on them.
To be or not to be that is the question:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And, by opposing, end them. To die, to sleep
No more and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep
To sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of disprized love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveler returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remembered.
Looking kindly on them is a masterpiece of understatement, He loved them so much, He gave His only Son for them. Suicide is the most extreme act of selfishness and self-centeredness one can commit.
You’re making the assumpption that a suicidal person is in their right mind. They aren’t. It’s not a matter of selfishness.
A very permanant solution to a temporary problem.
Your self-righteousness is staggering and you’ve clearly never suffered from depression of any magnitude. Suicide is often the only way that someone suffering the extreme mental anguish of deep depression or other mental illness can see to end his or her suffering.
That may be a good excuse, but it won’t satisfy God. Not after He went to the extreme to provide the ulitimate remedy for any and all mental anguish or deep depression. I have first hand knowledge on this my ex-wife was bi-polar.
It is the concept of despair, or lack of faith in God, or the belief that you’ve been handed a situation that is more than you can bear.
It is important that we don’t judge the state of mind of the deceased at the time of death. We don’t know!
Which is why I wrote I do not believe it to be a mortal sin.
Yeah I knew a couple of those Hemlock Society folks. I keep a safe distance away from them at all times—don’t want to be collateral damage.
Your body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit and the only unforgivagle sin is sin against the Holy Spirit.
Despair IS a mortal sin.
The point is that we can’t know the state of mind of others.
But that actively taking one’s own life as an act of despair IS a mortal sin.
[Suicide is the most extreme act of selfishness and self-centeredness one can commit.]
I concur, exept that perhaps the murder and murder/suicide sins are the same level of selfishness. I had the delight of a visit from my aging parents yesterday where we discussed the events of a family that we were very close to in my childhood. The father and two of the three sons were bipolar, and the youngest son committed suicide.
Although my opinion is such that his suicide was a very selfish act, I have compassion for the man. It may be misplaced, but I feel compelled to believe that our loving Father may very well share that compassion.
This is what Paul meant, when he wrote,
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
MY ex-wife was diagnosed with bi-polar illness, after she tried but failed to commit suicide, she was admitted to the hospital where she was convinced, by well meaning but totally off-base psyche doctors, that her only hope to fend off any future bouts of depression, was to go on meds, the meds she went on cost about $500.00 per month. I tried to give her encouragement to seek God, but she refused to consider any spiritual answers.
The meds did keep her from trying to commit suicide again, while we were married, but she still flew into episodes and fits of anger, she became an extremly hateful, bitter person. She may be alive, but she is far from living the abundant life, promised by God, to all who accept His Son as Savior. So, it may just be a matter of time, before she tries again. I pray for her everyday.
G Larry no, sinning sexually or against your body is NOT the unforgivable sin.
The unforgivable sin that Jesus talks about has to do with religious folks.
It is knowing that something is a miracle of the Holy Spirit and calling it a sign of Satan.
I believe that the church is about to enter into this Apostasy now, I believe this because I have seen men and women’s minds warped with hate in the Church.
There is a scripture about this... “they will believe they are doing a duty for God when they kill you”...
Google the “strong Delusion” that God will send on people. This is the problem of the church in these last days. Suicide is not.
IF someone commits suicide and has not truly accepted Jesus as his Savior, they are as hell bound as the next dead unrepentant sinner. IF that same someone had already truly accepted the Lord, then NO ONE, not even ones self, “can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” Jn 10:29b NIV
The only unforgivable sin is refusing the grace of His salvation.
There are those who did once claim to be Christians, but then say that they are not. Now they refuse to admit that Jesus is the Christ. They did not really believe in the Lord Jesus and they do not know Him.
The day will come when they will have to stand before God. Then Christ will deny them. He will say that He does not know them. They will not live with Him in that day.
Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
If you don’t mind...I don’t “google” to determine the truth of the Bible.
Okay, then use Strong’s..
I like to think that God welcomes suicides by offering a loving, compassionate, forgiving embrace.
To me that article read like so much “blah”, “blah”, “blah”...
Almost no one knows what it is to step inside the mind of a person seriously considering suicide.
“The latter argument is interesting: God is supposed to own the soul and it is a gift (in Jewish writings, a deposit) to the individual.”
What the hell kind of “gift” is this?! I never asked for it and sure as hell don’t want it! Life is nothing but a festering cesspool of cruelty and evil. There is no grand purpose, no beauty, no goodness, and no hope for the future. People cannot be aided or saved. There is no heaven. God is not in charge and most likely doesn’t exist.
The only reason I stick around is out of a completely irrational sense of duty. If I cease to be useful, suicide will be performed immediately.
“Looking kindly on them is a masterpiece of understatement, He loved them so much, He gave His only Son for them. Suicide is the most extreme act of selfishness and self-centeredness one can commit.”
Once you get to the point of total despair, selfishness/unselfishness, honor/dishonor, love/indifference all become completely meaningless. There is no hope and everyone who loved you is doomed anyway so you don’t even regard what will happen to them. You go into a “suicidal trance”. Death is like eating breakfast in the morning. It becomes that simple and ‘natural’.
“A very permanant solution to a temporary problem.”
Depression is often untreatable and lasts a lifetime. Ignore the “experts”.
“That may be a good excuse, but it wont satisfy God. Not after He went to the extreme to provide the ulitimate remedy for any and all mental anguish or deep depression. I have first hand knowledge on this my ex-wife was bi-polar.”
I’m happy for your wife but what about the people God DOESN’T help?
What about those who wish to believe but were never able to then the despair becomes so horrible that they commit suicide? Do they still go to hell?
Your post makes me feel the same way I feel when I listen to Billie Holiday strung out.
There is a God. There is potential for good. There is goodness on this earth. Haven’t you ever been in love?
Open your mind to the possibility that there might be a good God who has given men free will but “will not strive with flesh forever” meaning, the loving God will become a God of justice and He will judge us all fairly but with power.
Other than that, try to read Dale Carnegie’s book on Lincoln, called Lincoln The Unknown, 1931
It’s a chronicle of Lincoln’s suicidal depression.
It inspired Carnegie to start up his very popular ‘How to win friends and influence people’ series. I somehow took heart in my own times of darkness when I saw a man like Lincoln, broken.
God basically tells us that “the more wisdom one has, the more sorrow.”
I think in Ecclesiastes.
The reason for this is because when we have wisdom about the world, about human nature, about our own potential for sin and utter selfishness, the more we have a potential for sorrow.
For me, my true consolation is to love the people God puts in my life (because giving love away is the way to feel love) and to remember that no matter how I feel, or how dark it is, that there is a God who has suffered the same things I have, and who gets it all. God does get it, soothesayer. He gets why we do the dumb things we do, every hair on our head is counted. He loves us. He does not want us suffering under anxiety, depression but wants us to be as brave as we can to face life, trusting that He has equipped us and will ‘never try us beyond our strength”.
That's what I believe. It's in the Bible. Ultimately it is what Lincoln came to believe, too.
No have no room for love.
Yes you do. Otherwise you wouldn’t be typing now, slightly reaching out.