This book discusses the philosophical and practical issues revolving around the subject of suicide. It aims to be a scholarly discussion of the subject and not a debate, guide or recommendation. The authors do not condone or object to the conscious and reflected termination of oneself. If you are seeking help dealing with depressive and suicidal thoughts this book is not for you, there are regional services that offer local hot-lines for help.
Just as with other causes of death, accidental or inflicted, suicides are mostly about emotional issues and not surprisingly different societies have arrived at different attitudes and points of view regarding suicide and these have varied throughout history. It should not be for others to rationalize or establish what a proper or acceptable motivation should be behind the act. There should at least exist a degree of respect for this final act of self determination when carefully considered in all its implications, especially beyond those to the self.
As a reminder, this book will touch upon issues that some may find disturbing, depressing or taboo. Remember that some of the material may be inappropriate for minors.
Finally, this book is a work in progress. Currently it has had few contributors and part of the content was absorbed from the no longer active SuicideWiki and often streamlined and complemented with content from Wikipedia so what text there is has had little review, due to the nature of the book there may be some attempts of censure and erasure, so check page histories edits when editing. Please feel free to contribute where you can in order to improve it.
Colloquially it intentional act of taking ones own life, but a close examination of this definition quickly leads one to many questions. The more pressing one is that the definition is predicated on the result of an action and on the subjective informed and intentional act of the one committing it. A better definition can be stated as it being the act of ending all bodily systems/function of oneself, through one's action or direction.
The definition itself has many nuances, one can look for instance how the legal definition relates to the term suicide attempt that in it includes more theatrical acts often committed not with the necessary goal of life termination but as a veiled social statement and even the inconclusive self inflicting damage or accidental deaths can fall under the term suicide and suicide attempt in the legal form. In medicine there is also the term euthanasia, even if it is mostly associated with assisted suicide it may include or be refined as a form of suicide.
In this sections we will explore different definitions of suicide and discuss their merits. We will examine
- Sub-intentional suicide
- Self Sacrifice made for the benefit of others
- Suicide as part of different cultures
- Depression and other mental illness
Suicide as a means to an end
Suicide has been practiced for a long time as a means to an end. While the individual does not gain anything from the act, they may often find a goal (the advancement of an idea or ideology, the survival of family or friends, or the defense of their land) worth sacrificing their own life.
- Suicide in Nature (non human)
- Suicide in Christianity
- Suicide in Radical Islam
- The Japanese Kamikaze
- Seppuku in Japan.
Flight from suffering
A major reason for suicides is the flight from some form of suffering. This can be emotional or physical suffering but either way, the thought of continued living is so overwhelming to some people that they choose to end their lives.
There are arguments for and against such a decision. These include:
- the potential for recovery which would make the person willing to continue later on
- the feelings of those who would lose their loved one
- the moral right to die
- Moral Reasoning (Note: the bit at the end should be moved to a page linked to from the the "means to an end" page.
Thoughts of suicide are often brought on by external triggers. These can be crises in an individual's personal or professional life, but can be aggravated by other factors.
- Prescription drugs
- Mental torture
- Influence of Others
- Peer pressure
- Hormonal dysfunction, such as during adolescence
- Mental Condition
- Self determination
- Suicide Hotlines for the US.
- Samaritans is an organization to help people in the United Kingdom and Ireland. They describe themselves in this way "Samaritans provides confidential non-judgemental emotional support, 24 hours a day for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which could lead to suicide."
- Hotlines for Canada.
- Lifeline is a support service for those living in Australia.
- Karam And Friends Foundation working for Suicide Prevention
- Exsanguination (bleeding)
- Terminal dehydration
- Toxification (poisons or poisonous dosages)
- Hanging ( a particular method of falling or suffocate)
- Suicide (at Wikipedia)
- Death special: How does it feel to die?, in New Scientist Print Edition, 13 October 2007
- Internet Sites Biased Towards Supporting Suicide, posted on slashdot by kdawson on Saturday April 12
- Does the Earth's magnetic field cause suicides?, in NewScientist.com by Catherine Brahic 24 April 2008,