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On May 28, 2009, Jennifer Church wrote:

On May 28, 2009, Jennifer Church wrote: "A more abstract reason for disallowing suicide concerns the apparent contradiction in the idea that we can improve a life by ending a life. The suicide's thought that she will be better off dead seems to contradict the fact that, if dead, she will not be anything. Her desire to retain control over her life by ending it in the way she wants to end seems to contradict the fact that there is no control over a life that has ended. There are other ways to express a suicidal intention, though, that do not lead to such contradictions." This has been haunting me since I first read it. As suggested, I am unable to devise a non-contradictory logic of suicide (for argument, base this thought on life being a biomechanical phenomenon, no after-life, and really no proof that anything at all remains in existance if you (the contemplator) are not conscious of it. This has taken on a particular poignancy as a friend has recently killed himself. I see existence continuing...

I hope Jennifer Church will also answer this one. But I don't quite see why the decision to commit suicide must be based upon the fallacy of thinking that one will be better off. The value of eliminating something bad does not have to derive from some (other) benefit achieved in the process. (See step (C) in the argument below.)

(A) S's life now involves unbearable and irremediable pain and/or suffering of some other sort.

(B) If the life is ended, so will the pain and/or suffering of some other sort.

(C) Ending unbearable and irremediable pain and/or suffering of some other sort is at least sometimes a good reason to do something.

Hence, (D) There can be a good reason to end a life of unbearable pain and/or suffering of some other sort.

I see nothing in this argument that presupposes the fallacy you mention--for example, it is not assumed that by ending the pain and/or suffering of some other sort that the one whose pain or suffering has been ended will be "better off." As you say, they won't be "better off," they will simply be gone. But the pain or suffering will also be gone, and that's not such a bad thing.

I hope Jennifer Church will also answer this one. But I don't quite see why the decision to commit suicide must be based upon the fallacy of thinking that one will be better off. The value of eliminating something bad does not have to derive from some (other) benefit achieved in the process. (See step (C) in the argument below.) (A) S's life now involves unbearable and irremediable pain and/or suffering of some other sort. (B) If the life is ended, so will the pain and/or suffering of some other sort. (C) Ending unbearable and irremediable pain and/or suffering of some other sort is at least sometimes a good reason to do something. Hence, (D) There can be a good reason to end a life of unbearable pain and/or suffering of some other sort. I see nothing in this argument that presupposes the fallacy you mention--for example, it is not assumed that by ending the pain and/or suffering of some other sort that the one whose pain or suffering has been ended will be "better off." As...

Considering the ethical reasons of stopping suicide: Why is it that, by default

Considering the ethical reasons of stopping suicide: Why is it that, by default, our society would tend to reject suicidal behaviors and promote the prevention and stopping of suicide? Why can't a person have the right and freedom to choose what to do with his/her life without approval from others? If leading a lousy or good life is the choice and responsibility of the individual, why should choosing to live no life at all be an option not considerable?

Although I am somewhat sympathetic with your intuition that we should be free to choose to end our own lives, if we decide that they are no longer worth living, I am also cautious about removing all social interventions intended to prevent suicide, as well. My reservation comes from the (not implausible, I hope) observation that many of those who attempt suicide are not in a fit condition to make that decision, and would not make that decision under other circumstances that are actually available to them. For example, as we all know, depression can make someone suicidal--and when deeply depressed, a person can come to the decision that his or her life is no longer worth living. But depression is a treatable condition (at least in many or most cases), and if the depressed person is given effective treatment, he or she will cease to think that his or her life is not worth living. So I think society (and all of us in it) has a strong interest in intervention, precisely because so many cases of the decision to commit suicide are not made fully rationally, but under the influence of some disorder such as depression.

On the other hand, it seems plain, as well, that there can be instances where one is in a position to judge soberly that further life is undesirable--for example, in the case of those with incurable, disabling, and increasingly painful diseases. I think patients given the best information available, and who decide that they do not wish to have the only future available to them can quite reasonably decide to end their lives, and should be permitted to do so, and supported in their decision.

Although I am somewhat sympathetic with your intuition that we should be free to choose to end our own lives, if we decide that they are no longer worth living, I am also cautious about removing all social interventions intended to prevent suicide, as well. My reservation comes from the (not implausible, I hope) observation that many of those who attempt suicide are not in a fit condition to make that decision, and would not make that decision under other circumstances that are actually available to them. For example, as we all know, depression can make someone suicidal--and when deeply depressed, a person can come to the decision that his or her life is no longer worth living. But depression is a treatable condition (at least in many or most cases), and if the depressed person is given effective treatment, he or she will cease to think that his or her life is not worth living. So I think society (and all of us in it) has a strong interest in intervention, precisely because so many cases of the...