Suicide Part Deux

SuicideA while back, I talked about suicide and why I think many people have a very bad view of it.  Well, maybe not a bad view but at least a very self-centered view.  Lots of people have an irrational fear of death and because they are afraid to die, they impose that on others and want to force everyone to live as long as they can conceivably be kept breathing, whether they want to do so or not.

Now, I’m seeing people who want to force anyone who wants to kill themselves to be considered flawed or broken because they have an emotional fear of death.  Even the thought of ending one’s own life means that they are mentally insane and somehow unable to make decisions for themselves, regardless of the circumstances.

I think that’s just dumb.  I can think of lots and lots of situations where I think suicide is not only a valid response, but maybe the most valid response one can give and there’s nothing whatsoever wrong with them when they make the decision.  Unfortunately, those people who are terrified of the concept of death can’t seem to wrap their heads around anyone, no matter how much pain they might  be in, no matter how much they might hate life, might just not want to go on.  In their minds, insanity or mental deficiency is the only possible explanation because, as far as they’re concerned, desperately clinging to life is the only possible rational reaction.

Whether people like it or not, human life is not magically and objectively precious.  We’re just animals on this planet, no different in any objective way from any other.  Sure, we have the ability to reason, but what if someone reasons to a conclusion that someone doesn’t like?  Does that give the person who has a negative emotional reaction to that decision the right to over-ride the individual’s choice?  It seems that a lot of people think that it does.  This is funny when you talk to people who would otherwise rule that people’s bodily autonomy gives them the right to do most things, but when it comes to suicide, they quickly reverse their decision.

Now I don’t want to commit suicide, I have a wonderful life with a fantastic family that loves me, but if I ever did make that decision, why shouldn’t I be permitted to exercise it?  Why shouldn’t I be allowed to do with my body what I want to do with my body?  After all, isn’t that the exact same argument made by feminists with regard to abortion?  It’s the woman’s body, she gets to decide?  Well, it’s my body, why don’t I get to decide?  Because it makes people uncomfortable?  So what?  Where do you think you get the authority to control what I do to my body, yet I don’t have the authority to control what you do with yours?  Hypocritical much?

I hate to keep harping on the absurd over-use of unrestrained emotion, but this seems like another case of people, uncomfortable with the idea of dying, forcing their vested emotional desires on everyone around them. How dare anyone’s actions make you feel bad!  That works right up until someone tries to do the same to you. Then you get to scream bloody murder, how dare someone step on your rights to self-determination.

Pot.  Kettle.  Black.

9 thoughts on “Suicide Part Deux”

  1. "Lots of people have an irrational fear of death and because they are afraid to die, …"

    Has it not occurred to you that there is an evolutionary reason for this fear of death? Fear of death certainly would have had a very strong survival and reproductive advantage, one that I have doubt natural selection would have worked upon. So I don't think it quite right to call irrational a fear that is most probably the result of natural selection. Instead, I think it rather irrational of you to dismiss people's fear of death.

    1. It doesn't matter, we have an intellect that allows us to override those evolutionary instincts. It may have served some evolutionary purpose in the past but today, it does not. Therefore, since we can override it and it serves no useful evolutionary purpose, it becomes irrational.

      1. Oh, but it does matter. You don't seem to be familiar with the whole are of cognitive psychology. You seem to think that because you have found rationality, then everybody should be able to find it and in the same dosage you have. Your mistake is thinking that rationality is the default setting of the human brain. It is not. Irrationality, emotionalism, mystical and superstitious thinking are the default settings. It takes considerable self-training and intellectual discipline for a person to overcome the various cognitive biases wired into the brain.

        Evolution worked on the brain in such a way that it is, to borrow language from Michael Shermer, a patten-detection machine or device. Let me suggest a couple of books for you on this topic of how the human brain is not wired with rationalism as the default setting. Michael Shermer's The Believing Brain and Faces in the Cloud, by Stuart Guthrie. If rationalism were the default setting then why is not so much more ubigitous than it is. Why is religions belief, belief in the supernatural, mystical and superstitious thinking, so prevalent and widespread in our species? Because we did not evolve to be purely rational. Becoming rational takes considerable intellectual muscle. Irrationalism comes easily and quite naturally to humans.

        All this said, share you wish that there was much more rationalism in the world. But I also understand the reason why there is not and the challenge that bringing more rationalism to the world is. You apparently don't. You just think that rationalism and critical thinking come easy, and that any one who does not employ these skills is just an idiot. This says a great deal about your ignorance of human psychology.

  2. "Why shouldn’t I be allowed to do with my body what I want to do with my body? After all, isn’t that the exact same argument made by feminists with regard to abortion?" (Pro-Choice or Pro-Life From an Atheist Perspective, February 7, 2014)

    "Conservatives are pro-responsibility, anyone who has read the blog for any amount of time ought to recognize that. However, while I know an argument can be made that abortion can be the most responsible position one can take at the particular time, that doesn’t make it responsible. Anyone who is responsible all of the time ought rarely or never get into the situation where they need to get an abortion.  Keep in mind that I’m not talking about medical issues, damaged fetuses, instances of rape and the like, I’m talking about voluntary abortions because you don’t want a kid."

    So which is it Cephus? It strikes me as terribly inconsistent for you to claim that you have an absolute right to bodily-autonomy for the sake of suicide yet you don't have the same absolute right to bodily autonomy in the matter of abortion.

    Why does personal responsibility trump bodily-autonomy when it concerns abortion but not when it concerns suicide? Can't we make the same argument that "anyone who is responsible all of the time ought to rarely or never get into the situation where they need" to choose suicide?

    1. When it's your own body and no one else is inherently physically impacted by your decisions, then it should be your decision to make. That's the basis of personal responsibility, to be responsible for your person and for your actions. Now if you were a Siamese twin and you wanted to commit suicide, knowing this would result in the death of your attached twin, that's a different argument because your action directly impacts the physical health and wellbeing of another individual.

  3. By the way, why no conservative bashing in this piece. After all conservatives are just as guilty, if not more so, of opposing suicide. Isn't your bias showing here. You don't hesitate to politicize an issue if you think you can make a case that it is predominantly or exclusively liberals at fault or in the wrong. And don't use that "I am a classical conservative" card. Russell Kirk, more of a classical conservative than you, certainly would not have shared and did not share your views on the issue of suicide.

    1. Well, neo-cons are, they tend to be some of the most terrified people around. However, most of the people I've encountered that are vocally against suicide do tend to come from the political left and that's what I was responding to. I'd equally criticize anyone from any other perspective, although the religious tend to look at things from a religious perspective and that's not the argument I was responding to.

  4. The only problem I have with suicide is when it is done by someone who is clearly mentally ill i.e. severe clinical depression etc. Other than that clarification which you agreed with, I am full on board with this. I believe personally the reason people are against suicide is not only the fear of death, but also selfishness of wanting to keep their life normal and not losing a friend who would like to commit suicide.
    My recent post Idiots of the week – Boko Haram

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