Is Comitting Suicide Wrong?

Rebecca Scarlett By Rebecca Scarlett, 15th Oct 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Business>Ethics

A discussion of the ethics and morality of committing suicide.

Should Suicide Be Considered Wrong, or Immoral?

When considering the question of whether or not committing suicide is wrong, it is very important to remember that not all suicides are the same. Would it be wrong for a pedophile to commit suicide because he can't stop himself from abusing children, but he knows he causes children to suffer horribly and can think of no other way to save his future victims? Such examples in moral philosophy are known as "thought experiments," and I'm sure every reader of this article can come up with a few cases of his or her own where suicide would not only be right, but possibly even neccessary.

Of course, such an example only serves to show that one cannot blindly label all suicides as wrong. It does show that all, or even the majority of, suicides are right, or justified.

If a person is suffering from a mental illness, like depression, that makes him or her feel that life is terrible and hopeless despite evidence to the contrary, suicide is not the right option. Not only do people who commit suicide hurt their loved ones, in many cases they leave behind a family that was emotionally as well as financially dependent on them. In these cases, isn't suicide as despicable as simply walking away from your family and disappearing without even bothering to send child support checks? In this case, suicide would be the wrong decision, but can we really classify it as morally wrong? After all, in order to commit a moral transgression, just like a crime, a person has to understand exactly what it is he or she is doing, and the severely depressed are not capable of that understanding due to their brain chemistry. Perhaps some people who commit suicide really are cowards, but surely there are at least some who are honestly incapable of making the right decision, and we should not condemn them for that.

There are many shades of gray to this question and it could be debated forever. Is it wrong to throw yourself in front of your child and take a bullet to the chest in order to save his or her life? What about if killing yourself would save millions of people? Is it wrong to want to die if the only thing you have to look forward to is two months of agonizing pain before dying anyway? Is a man a coward if he kills himself, leaving his wife and three children behind? What if the family was in dire financial trouble, and the man made his suicide look like a murder, therefore allowing his family to get a lucrative life insurance policy that would actually leave them "better off" without him? Is he then a coward, or a martyr?

How is killing yourself and leaving your family emotionally and financially unstable any different from being employed in a job with a high chance of death? If a man joins the army in wartime, knowing well that he may never come back to his wife and children, and he is killed on the front lines, isn't the end result for the family the same as if he killed himself? As much as many people cling to the fact that their spouses died serving their country as consolation, does it really feel any better, deep down? Not having been in the situation, I don't know the answer to that question, and my point is not to take away from the necessary work done by those in dangerous and honorable occupations like the army or police force, but merely to point out the the end result of an action often is not viewed as being as important as the intentions behind it. This demonstrates that there might be, as in the life insurance example above, honorable reasons to kill yourself. Many cultures have believed that through the ages.

In conclusion, this question cannot be answered with a simple "yes" or "no". It seems there are some situations where it is clearly wrong to commit suicide, but in at least some of those cases we can't pass moral judgement as the person involved was incapable of making a sound decision. It seems as though there are times when committing suicide would be justified, if not the right thing to do (taking a bullet for your child.) The moral status of suicide cannot be judged in such a general fashion, but rather, must be examined on a case-by-case basis.

Tags

Ethics Of Suicide, Should Suicide Be Legal, Whats Wrong About Suicide

Meet the author

author avatar Rebecca Scarlett
Rebecca Scarlett is a professional freelance writer with over 14 years of experience. She writes articles, essays, blogs, short stories, plays, poetry, songs, novels, and does copy editing. She has been published in print and extensively online. Scar...(more)

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Comments

author avatar Denise O
20th Oct 2010 (#)

I have to admit this...you got me at every pass. I hear ya.
Valid points for both sides of the argument.
Good read. Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar piscescusp
30th Nov 2010 (#)

Can I ask a question??? If someone commits suicide....how is that my problem and why would I care? I don't mean that in a negative way, I mean that in a realistic way. You want to off yourself I say more power to you and one less worry in the world. BUT at the same time if you are so emotionally off that you want to commit suicide why hasn't a family member or friend seen it in you to help. I'd never turn away from family or a friend in need and I'd NEVER want anyone I care about to commit suicide...and yet at the same time life is a challenge enough and I don't have time to care about those I don't know who want to commit suicide...not when there are bigger issues that need attention like helping those who WANT help. I enjoyed your point of view and you are a good person for feeling as you do. I do apologize if I sounded negative, I'm really not, just more realistic about some things I guess lol.

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author avatar Rebecca Scarlett
22nd Dec 2010 (#)

Piscescusp: I don't think there is anything wrong with thinking the way you do. I personally don't feel that suicide is wrong, and I agree with many of your sentiments. For example, I am not currently volunteering for a suicide hotline or anything like that. Right now I am doing everything I can to make sure my family doesn't lose the roof over our heads, so I can't really worry that much about other people I don't even know. If I had a genius idea or fantastic job that made me more money than my family needs for food and shelter, I would have the extra income to help others more. You didn't come across as negative, but I was really just trying to explore this subject in mini-essay form, not trying to tell people what to care or think.

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author avatar Javrsmith
8th May 2011 (#)

It may be that those in need don't know about the mental help or other resources that may be available. I agree that suicide is often very hard on the family.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
3rd Dec 2014 (#)

It is tough to know why some take extreme step. If one is in terrible pain and there is no cure, then what is the point in the suffering and living in misery? Also, I know some who cannot take the insults of close ones who prove fair weather friends in the end. Thought provoking share - siva

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