Jennifer Michael Hecht: What I wish people understood about suicide

Outrageous initial statement: Suicide is firmly a personal choice and this article is firmly anti-American.

Let me explain my position by discussing the points raised in the article:

1) We don't have the right to suicide

Suicide hurts other people terribly.

This is a European vs. American free speech argument. Just because another person might take offense at my actions does not preclude my ability to make them. Suicide, ludicrously, is illegal. That doesn't change that facts that:

  • I did not choose to enter this world, or be given life.
  • Exiting this life at my own choosing is not measurably worse than living as an alcoholic, an addict, or in an asylum. It is less financially burdensome, and depending on your worldview, less burdensome on morale as well.
  • If there is any single thing that a person truly owns, it is his or her body. She or he can do with it what she wills, including stopping its own natural processes.
  • Saying we don't have the right t suicide is, in the authors opinion, saying I don't have the right to offend others' sensibilities.

2) Staying alive is a life-saving social contribution

Staying alive is life saving on its own. Is being alive in and of itself a social contribution? There are two easy points I can make in the contrary:

  • People who do not have the will to live or who actively pursue death are a tax on our society. We spend money and people-hours keeping these people alive, and it is not clear what, if any, benefit they may have for society. By circumventing these peoples' will, we pay more.
  • Not everyone has a contribution to society. There are many people who remain single and reclusive throughout there adult lives. Are those people contributing to society? Do they want to? If they found out that they were, would they continue?

3) We need to consider the rights of our future selves

Our future selves exist only because our present selves exist. There is a gray area here: Does a thirteen year old who took his or her parents heart pills owe something to themselves? Maybe. Does a forty year old?

4) Suicide is among the top ten killers of Americans

... and accidental death in an automobile is way higher. Maybe we should outlaw driving!

When people try to kill themselves and survive, they overwhelmingly report being glad they lived

... and this has nothing to do with the fact that if they say otherwise they'll be locked up longer.

5) Suicide is often impulsive, such that if the impulse is thwarted, the person lives

Well yeah, if a suicide attempt is thwarted, that person lives. That time. One might argue that the suicide attempt wasn't genuine, or wasn't subconsciously genuine. Very few people are successful in their first suicide attempt, and if they fail, it's likely nobody ever knew about it.

6) Physical barriers to suicide have been shown to work and so can conceptual ones

I can't really see this argument as anything more than helicopter social-servicing. Of course people can jump off a bridge. If you put up a fence, you just make people look elsewhere. Crime occurs in supermax prisons. People are always going to find a way.

8) If individuals knew how common suicidal thoughts are, they would be less frightened of their own

... more like, if individuals weren't afraid of being labeled crazy or possibly locked up for the rest of their lives, they'd be less frightened to admit it.

9) Our increasing suicide rate is a trend, and trends can be slowed or reversed

Well, welcome to maths!

10) If we manage to lower the suicide rate and keep it low, people in the future will look back at our age and see a massacre

I think these hypothetical people in the future will see a reaction to the times, and nothing more. More people committing suicide has less to do with a massacre of people as it has to do with the bombed-out economy, the wage gap, the high unemployment, and the high double-employment necessary to feed a family.

People are always going to commit suicide. It's their right. It's their body. If that's gonna make you sad, you can make the same choice. If that makes you fight harder, then do so.

/r/EOOD Thread Link -