The Right To Kill Oneself
Yes and No ideas
Are you a victim of suicide or a free agent choosing
"The Gaul and his wife"
- Anon (1 BC)
No one can stop you from trying to kill yourself!
Everyone has the choice. The controversy about the right to select suicide
boils down to a question about your role. Are you a victim with impaired
choice or a free agent searching for a rational end?
All of us want to die appropriately. Usually this is as late as our
bodies allow. Some circumstances seem to justify a search for an early
death. These are usually personal distress, public shame, significant loss
(of money, status or a dear one), bad health, etc. There is no end to the
list, because everyone assigns different values to different losses. These
are simply illustrations. People in this situation are tempted to try a
suicidal mode of self injury behavior to hasten the moment of death.
This rational position gets complicated by several dimensions of the
individual's character or life style.
- We all have a wish to die heroically, and suicide seems to promise
such an appropriate death. Unfortunately, it yields pain, suffering, guilt,
shame and stigma to the survivors and to the one who seeks a self caused
- Pain and distress are always personal; felt by the individual, but
made better or worse by past coping styles.
- The decision to kill oneself usually ignores the effects on others
who are dearly loved; including parents, children, lovers, and pets, to
name a few.
- The wish to die is always in conflict with the wish to live. This means
that impairments of judgment and action can occur after the decision to
kill oneself, by whatever method. The best example is the person pointing
a gun to the head, firing and missing.
- The wish to live seems to endure while the wish to die is always temporary.
It may recurr, but always goes away, least for a while. In between the
potential victim enjoys life within the limits of a personal existence
There are many other reasons which make the rational choice problematic.
I would suggest that to die rationally one needs to do preparations as
- take care of last things (property, personal items, remains)
- say goodbye to people you care about
- provide for the people who depend on you, including your pets
- figure out and give a blessing (your wisdom and best wishes) to your