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Misha

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So then are we really rational enough beings to justify an ethical leap like suicide?
 

Daniel

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So then are we really rational enough beings to justify an ethical leap like suicide?

Yes, especially in very dire circumstances (terminal illness with unrelieved pain, torture, etc.). But most suicides are clearly more impulsive than anything else, so it's rare for a suicide to be deemed rational or morally good. For example, it's not uncommon for a suicide to be triggered by a minor setback like being dumped by boyfriend/girlfriend.
 

ThatLady

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Jumping out windows to escape the Twin Towers fires was not an effort at suicide, in my opinion. It was an irrational act based on fear of the fire. There just wasn't any other place to run and the fight/flight mechanism took over. I doubt those people ever thought about the results of jumping out the window. The only thing they thought about was getting away from the fire.

Some cancers can be cured, and new research is producing new treatments daily. However, if you have a stage 4, incurable cancer right now, there isn't much hope that a magical cure will erupt tomorrow. Furthermore, the pain and suffering are probably taking a terrific toll on your strength and your will. I can understand a person's wish to just pass on at that point.

A person can justify anything they're of a mind to justify. That doesn't necessarily mean that their justification is rational.
 
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we all come with a strong survival instinct. suicide goes against this survival instinct. i am not sure it can ever be a rational choice, other than maybe in a situation of war and torture.

i still sometimes wonder about the point of my life and why i am here. however, my instincts to survive are far greater than these doubts. it's these instincts that even in our deepest moments of wanting to die still make us want to live, and make us reach out for help. suicide goes against our basic survival instincts. i really cannot see it ever being rational choice in a case where you are not ill or suffering.
 

David Baxter

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leaving out possible depresson and\or terminal illness...
Is there such a thing as "rational" suicide?"

been thinking on this for a while and i think there has to be...
just because it's not the "norm" doesn't make it necessarily irrational..
hmm.. (just thinking out loud..)

It doesn't make it rational either.

Other than to avoid a painful and certain death, as in terminal illness or, as suggested, the 9-11 "suicides", I have never seen a case of contemplated suicide that did NOT involve distorted thinking. This has nothing to do with whether or not it is the "norm". It has everything to do with the reasons for thinking about suicide to begin with versus the reasons for living.

Try putting those in two columns: "reasons for living" and "reasons for giving up".

Then post them or ask someone you know to comment on the two columns.

I can guarantee you that this will show clear evidence of distorted (irrational) thinking.
 

Halo

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David I just wanted to say that I really liked your idea of the two columns. I will remember that one.
 

foghlaim

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from the various responses above it would appear that there isn't such a thing as rational suicide. Good to know.
 

healthbound

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There just wasn't any other place to run and the fight/flight mechanism took over. I doubt those people ever thought about the results of jumping out the window. The only thing they thought about was getting away from the fire.

Couldn't the above points also be made about someone who is suicidally depressed (replacing the words, "the fire" with "depression")?

But, maybe I'm confused about what we mean by "rational". When I look it up in the dictionary it says:
Main Entry: ra?tio?nal
Pronunciation: 'ra-sh&-n&l
Function: adjective
1 : having reason or understanding
2 : relating to, based on, or guided by reason, principle, fairness, logic, a legitimate state interest, or a consideration of fact <age distinctions are not subject to strict scrutiny, but they must have a rational relationship to a legitimate state interest ?In re J. M., 642 Atlantic Reporter, Second Series 1062 (1994)> ?ra?tio?nal?i?ty /"ra-sh&-'na-l&-tE/ noun ?ra?tio?nal?ly adverb

Can't someone use logic and consider the facts...then, make a decision to suicide based on those facts...understanding what the choices and consequences are?

Why would suicide never be rational? It's not a socially or legally accepted option, but it is an option. If one consciously chooses it...why is it irrational?
 

Daniel

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Can't someone use logic and consider the facts...then, make a decision to suicide based on those facts...understanding what the choices and consequences are?

Yes, but most of the time the logic is compromised due to depressed, demoralized thinking. Even when people aren't depressed, they often underestimate their ability to overcome problems. Suicide, for the most part, is a savage god, not a rational enterprise.
 

healthbound

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I've never read Savage God (or any other publication about suicide, actually). From what I can tell, it is a book about a variety of experiences with suicide? How does it explain that suicide is not a "rational enterprise"?
 

Daniel

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It's been over 5 years since I read "The Savage God," but here is a quote from the book on the tunnel-vision nature of suicidal thinking:

Once a man decides to take his own life he enters a shut-off, impregnable but wholly convincing world where every detail fits and every incident reinforces his decision.

Similarly, another book on suicide, "The Suicidal Mind," explains that a suicidal person typically does not fully understand the consequences of committing suicide:

In suicide, the diaphragm of the mind narrows and focuses on the single goal of escape to the exclusion of all else--parents, spouse, children. Those other persons in the life are not forgetten; they are simply not within the narrow focus of the suicidal lens. Suddenly they are just not in the picture. (pg. 60)
 

David Baxter

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Daniel said:
most of the time the logic is compromised due to depressed, demoralized thinking. Even when people aren't depressed, they often underestimate their ability to overcome problems.
That is exactly right. As I said earlier, in 30 years, I have never seen a case where that was NOT true.
 

ThatLady

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Couldn't the above points also be made about someone who is suicidally depressed (replacing the words, "the fire" with "depression")?

The fight/flight mechanism is not triggered by rationality. It's triggered by chemical changes in the body (adenalin, et al). It happens without rational thought, so it can't be termed "rational".


Can't someone use logic and consider the facts...then, make a decision to suicide based on those facts...understanding what the choices and consequences are?

Why would suicide never be rational? It's not a socially or legally accepted option, but it is an option. If one consciously chooses it...why is it irrational?

In my opinion, the terminal cancer (or, insert terminal disease here) who is suffering can, in fact, make a rational decision to choose death over continued suffering and deterioration. In this case, I would not consider suicide (I prefer the term euthanasia) to be a permanent solution to a temporary problem. The terminal illness is, in fact, permanent unto death.
 

healthbound

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The terminal illness is, in fact, permanent unto death.
But so is some depressions? My sister's depression was terminal. I am still trying "life", but I wonder if mine is too. I now know it's cyclic. What if I'd rather not live with such an illness that destroys my body and mind?

I don't know if I'm crossing the lines here...perhaps my questions cross over to romanticizing, but these are most definitely things I think about on a daily basis.
 

ThatLady

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But so is some depressions? My sister's depression was terminal. I am still trying "life", but I wonder if mine is too. I now know it's cyclic. What if I'd rather not live with such an illness that destroys my body and mind?

I don't know if I'm crossing the lines here...perhaps my questions cross over to romanticizing, but these are most definitely things I think about on a daily basis.


No, healthbound. Your sister's depression wasn't terminal. While it is a disease, just like cancer is a disease, it can't kill you by using the cells of your body against you like cancer can. It can't cause your heart to stop beating, or your kidneys to stop functioning. What it CAN do is disrupt your thinking to the extent that YOU bring about your own demise. That's why it's so important to get treatment.

No amount of treatment can save someone who's dying of stage 4 cancer, or renal failure, or inoperable heart disease. Treatment can, however, save those who are suffering from depression from themselves
 
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Who decides what is rational? Can't we rationalize anything? Justify anything? Does that make it the right thing to do? Just because I might think I have a good reason to commit suicide?

What about the people left behind? What about their pain?

What about the moments, the hours when things are okish and the thoughts go away? Isn't it worth it to live for that?

With a terminal illness you don't have a choice. With depression or bipolar or ocd or other mental illnesses you DO have a choice. You can choose to get treatment. You can choose to live. Or at least that's what I always thought or wanted to believe. Is that true?

This whole discussion is causing some extremely distressing feelings in me. I am trying so hard to hold on to life. I believe in hope. I believe things can get better, but maybe I'm wrong? Maybe I'm doomed? This is scary.

Aren't we supposed to be looking for reasons to live? Isn't life hard for everyone? Don't we all struggle and suffer and hurt?

So many painful thoughts and fears are going through my mind.
 

David Baxter

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Janet said:
Who decides what is rational? Can't we rationalize anything? Justify anything? Does that make it the right thing to do? Just because I might think I have a good reason to commit suicide?

What about the people left behind? What about their pain?

What about the moments, the hours when things are okish and the thoughts go away? Isn't it worth it to live for that?

With a terminal illness you don't have a choice. With depression or bipolar or ocd or other mental illnesses you DO have a choice. You can choose to get treatment. You can choose to live. Or at least that's what I always thought or wanted to believe. Is that true?
It's not only true but very eloquently expressed, Janet.
 

David Baxter

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healthbound said:
But so is some depressions? My sister's depression was terminal. I am still trying "life", but I wonder if mine is too. I now know it's cyclic. What if I'd rather not live with such an illness that destroys my body and mind?
Your sister's depression was only terminal because she chose to make it terminal by giving up. It didn't need to be that way. That, and the sister she left behind to struggle with all this, is the real tragedy of suicide.
 

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