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!)
There's nothing wrong with suicide. I wouldn't say that it is obvious that suicide should not be the first option; what's obvious about it? Such a claim seems more opinion than anything. Yes, there are options that could be pursued prior to committing such an act, but one's life is one's own, as are the choices one makes about how to live it or end it. To say it's obvious seems to suggest there is some objective measure of life, in itself, being good, rather than it being purely subjective. One may not agree with another's choice on the matter, but that is quite a different thing from saying such a choice is obviously not the best first choice.
Under what circumstances is it alright? Again, this is a matter of personal choice. I can disagree with the choice of another, but if that person has considered the matter and has decided that it is the appropriate course of action, then the choice is correct for that person.
Mental illness may impair an individual's capacity to give the choice a fully rational appreciation of the matter, and it is preferable (inasmuch as such a preference is a matter of my personal belief) that such an individual seek appropriate medical care, but one's choice is one's choice.
Having lived with mental illness in the past, and during such time been suicidal, I'm glad I refrained from taking such action. I like being alive, even though at that particular time I did not, seeing the annihilation of self in death as somewhat preferable to the pain of life. Would killing myself have been the right choice? I don't know, and quite frankly I don't care to know. I'm glad I didn't, but if I had there would be no 'me' to give a toss one way or the other about the issue. Either way, it's moot.
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.
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.
Seppuku is not about altruism. It is about punishment and shame. The cultural context of seppuku has more to do with compulsion than it does will individual will. Such a practice is antithetical to notions of individual liberty. If one wants to live under such a system of high social coercion, go ahead, but if there is a type of suicide that could be considered 'wrong', seppuku would be it. Not because of the act itself, but because of the means — the compulsive element — of the act.
"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.