Is suicide wrong? It's obvious that suicide should not be the first solution tried in order to fix a problem, but who's to say that someone shouldn't take their own life if they so wish? Under what circumstance is it alright, if ever?
No human being should be forced to live one day longer than he/she thinks is worth while. My uncle shot himself, he was old, very sick, and his kids didn't have the time of day for him. Someday I'll probably do the same thing unless somebody does it for me! (Actually, I'm hoping to get shot by an 22 year old jealous husband when I'm about 95!)
If you're suicidal because of a treatable issue like depression, then it can be an issue. If, however, other circumstances really make continuing to live a hell, such as being the captive victim of a pervert for years, I can understand why you would choose to end it.
The most excusable suicides in many cultures are altruistic ones. People who die so that others can live. For example harakiri in ancient Japanese cultures. Suicides have multiple purposes, so each is categorized into types. Here's a short essay on the types: http://social.jrank.org/pages/3000/suicide.html
There's a lot of focus on suicide rates in high schoolers. There's a lot less in undergraduate students who are at higher risk than high schoolers. And graduate students are at higher risk than undergraduate. The majority of successful suicides are done by men around retirement age. Women are more prone to depression and attempt more often, but are also less likely to succeed. Part of it is the type of suicide attempts. Women are more likely to attempt by overdose while men prefer gun.
I've a history of depression, but am too cowardly to attempt suicide. I know stories of too many that have gone wrong (my mother's a nurse and has them in recovery often, including a kid who blew his face off when the gun jumped), and I'm not a fan of being inflicted with pain or panic.
"If, however, other circumstances really make continuing to live a hell, such as being the captive victim of a pervert for years, I can understand why you would choose to end it." - Jennifer Anker
But even in that sort of situation, if you are at the point of no longer valuing your life, it would STILL be better for a person to fight to the death trying to escape, than to just chop their wrists or something equally defeatist. The Seppuku you mention smacks too much of the same flaws as 'glorious death in battle' for my liking - there is no such thing as 'honour' in an unnecessary death. I can see myself *risking* my life to save almost any random person, but I know that some form of utilitarian thought process would be engaged when evaluating the situation... For example, if there was an extremely high risk of death (jumping in front of a hail of bullets), I would be unlikely to sacrifice myself for an elderly person who wasn't a person I knew to have significant contributions left to give to society.. However if it was a child or baby I think instinct would prevail and I would risk it... If there was a 100% chance of death (umm.. falling into molten lava and having to either jump free or throw someone else free, and death would be practically instant) then I honestly don't know what I would do - for a stranger there's no question, I would save myself, but if it was someone I cared about (wife, child, sibling) then there's a chance I would sacrifice myself... if it was more than one person I cared about, I would do it.
Scuse my rambling - it's probaby all irrelevant as you really have to be in such a situation to REALLY know what you would do.
Seppuku is a time-honored traditional form of ritual suicide by disembowelment among the samurai class in Medieval Japan. The samurai (warrior class) followed the Code of Bushido and Seppuku is seen as an honorable way to redeem oneself in times of failure and hardship.
A warlord who is defeated in battle and who commits himself to Seppuku may be appointed a second - a Kaishakunin so that he may die respectably. This is reserved for one who is doing the deed out of honor rather than in disgrace. The kaishakunin stands on the left side of the opponent (teki) keeping in mind he is a fellow samurai and not an enemy. The kaishakunin maintains eye contact and as the samurai performs the Seppuku - cutting his belly with a dagger (tanto) and moves it back to the beginning cut, the kaishakunin executes with his katana sword the "cut-slash-withdraw" motion called daki-kubi. This head cut is not supposed to go all the way through the samurai's neck: honor dictated that the cut shall finish just before completely beheading the samurai that has committed the seppuku, since complete decapitation was considered a grave dishonor and disgrace (remember that only the samurai that were invited to perform seppuku in order to preserve his honor were allowed to have a kaishakunin to assist; samurai committing seppuku for criminal actions were not allowed to have any assistance). Therefore, the final cut has to be controlled, in order for the initial cut to reach only half the neck of the samurai; the final cut, leaving the required skin to hold the head attached to the samurai's body, was performed by a single slashing/withdrawing motion of the katana.
After the dead samurai falls, the kaishakunin, with the same slow, silent style used when unsheathing the katana, shakes the blood off the blade (a movement called chiburi) and returns the katana to the scabbard (a movement called noto), while kneeling towards the fellow samurai's dead body. When this is completed, the kaishakunin remains kneeling for a while, as a sign of deep respect to the fallen samurai who committed the ritual suicide, always in a state of "total awareness" (zanshin) before standing up and bowing (rei) to his body.
The term harakiri is hardly used in Japan but is mainly referred to as "the way foreigners express Seppuku."
Long story short, it's killing yourself. And killing yourself without necessity, due to social conditioning. I don't think we benefit from the play-by-play.
Sorry if that comes across as harsh, I just really have no respect for the useless waste of human life. Not to mention the fact that disembowelment would make a hell of a mess, and of COURSE the guy who caused it never cleans it up... tsk tsk. Just selfish is what that is.
Well I should certainly hope so. Any such society or cult, which values ritual sacrifice over learning from your mistakes, moving on and progressing as a person, or places more stock in the ability to follow tradition blindly rather than goodness of one's character and deeds, is rubbish and deserves to die out. I consider the character trait of thinking rationally rather than magically to be a positive one.
I agree with the idea that one's life is one's life, and if he/she chooses to end it the choice should be available. The only reason I see it being wrong is because of its impact on family members, especially children. A child who loses a parent to a disease might question why his parent was taken from him but is less likely to blame himself - there was an obvious outward cause. But a parent who commits suicide can leave a lasting impression of guilt on a child that he/she may never overcome. Future success and relationships can be affected by it. Do I think we should be able to choose, yes. Do I think we should be able to communicate the desire to qualified professionals who can freely discuss the option without fear of being sued or jailed? Definitely. It's not a decision to be taken lightly.
"I agree with the idea that one's life is one's life, and if he/she chooses to end it the choice should be available." - Marci B
So if a 5-year-old wants to off themselves, this is OK? 10-year-old? 15-year-old? The reason you would probably balk at those hypotheticals is that we understand children are (in general!) less equipped to make such complex and impactful decisions than their older guardians. The flaw in your suggestion to allow suicide is that this 'right' should be denied to most people contemplating suicide on the same basis that you would deny children this 'right' - diminished capacity. Suicidal thinking is a strong indicator of some sort of mental illness (has to be fairly set-in, too, in order to overcome the natural survival instinct), and we as a society understand that people wih mental illnesses sometimes need to be protected from themselves, and/or have the society protected from them.
Personally, the only 'suicide' I can contemplate accepting (as a rule rather than exception) probably doesn't really qualify as suicide; being able to ask for death in the case of ever becoming a vegetable, where complete or major brain death has occurred. In that situation I would definitely want my organs, corneas, whatever is useful harvested and my plug to be pulled - unfortunately it's not feasible to allow such action for lesser ailments, including terminally ill people in pain with no hope of recovery, since there is just too much potential for abuse of any system put into place. You know the saying, "better 100 guilty men at liberty than one innocent man in prison", well.. same goes for assisted suicides; better 100 people have to suffer a bit longer than 1 person who did not want to die get offed by their family/doctor/etc..
I realize I'm rambling a bit, stopping now... :P
As others have said in different ways, most people who commit (or attempt to commit) suicide have problems in the way they perceive reality, are not 'thinking straight', and can benefit more from treatment or other help, than from ending their lives.
I don't know the exact statistics, but from what I'm aware of, it seems at least the upper 90% of suicides are due to a mental illness; unwarranted depression etc. A smaller percentage due to excess real emotional pain, which we all know in those cases to make tomorrow better. But at the time, for the individual, it doesn't seem possible.
All of these cases, suicide is simply not the answer, or any answer for that matter.
However, there is a very tiny percentage of suicides that I cannot simply sweep aside as "wrong"... these would be by those who have no chance of escaping severe pain or physical vegetation for the rest of their life. These people don't want to live the rest of their life in absolute torment. It is in these rare cases that I cannot say suicide isn't an answer.
Much the same way we put an animal out of it's misery rather than watch it suffer for hours, days or weeks on end. Sometimes ending ones life is the only humane thing left to do.
Of course, as I said, these cases are incredibly rare.
Most cases of suicide are of course completely avoidable.