Posted by: Marie | December 1, 2010

(456) Reader Input: Suicidal idealization

Post #456

Solicitation for Reader Input

Okay . . . there’s nothing like touching on the topic of suicide during the holiday season. Yet, it seems to be the time of year it comes up the most in the minds of those who tend to idealize the relief that could come from suicide.

I have a therapy session scheduled for today (December 1st) and I already know that suicide is on the discussion agenda for that session. I’m not sure how much we will get into it, but I know it is going to at least be mentioned.

It’s not just suicide itself I’m examining. It’s also the responsibility we each have (or don’t have) to stick around until forces outside of ourselves hand us death. So, let me as you . . .

Do you think suicide is wrong/sinful/irresponsible? Why? According to what authority?

Is there a difference (i.e.; is one more “wrong” than the other) between proactive suicide (i.e.; shooting oneself) and passive suicide (i.e.; overeating, drinking, smoking, doing drugs, having unprotected sex with multiple partners as a way to get out of living sooner)?

What do you think happens to your soul after suicide? Do you go to hell? Do you have to come back to earth in a different body and try again to learn the same lessons? Does God have compassion and let you slide into heaven anyway?

Do we have a responsibility to stick around until we have fulfilled our purpose? Do we have a purpose for being here on earth? If so, how do we identify and define that purpose?

Is suicide ever acceptable/moral/understandable?

I really want to hear your thoughts!! Please send me your comments!


Responses

  1. Hi Marie,

    I think that suicide shows us that we are social individuals not just individual individuals. Even with people who have done really horrendous and awful things, there will usually be someone who will mourn their passing.

    I think people have the right of disposal over their own lives (euthenasia) – anything else is a justification of torture.

    I do think intention is an element to consider. How conscious is someone who is reckless of a desire to kill themselves? I guess only they can answer definitely – although it can help to have others point out obvious consequences and things that have been overlooked.

    After death I’m not sure – we’ll all find out. At the moment I am inclined to the idea that we are remembered by god. I don’t think materialism can give an adequate account of our normal experience let alone weirder experiences that many people have had. (These weird experiences don’t normally happen in a lab and so are generally not well regarded by scientists.) I have no memories of a previous life and don’t know of any convincing evidence for reincarnation (but I haven’t gone into it much).

    Purpose. I think we have moments of flow or integration where all of who we are participates in what we are doing. There can be profound times where we think/feel that this is what I’m here to do. These may not be grand but I think most of us have them (if we are willing to pay attention to small moments of joy). There are various ways to identify this. Perhaps the simplest (for anyone literate) is Steve Pavlina’s: keep answering the question: What am I here to do? Just keep writing, when you get bored just keep writing; the one that when you write it has you crying is the right answer. I think there are happier ways to go about it. And more analytical ones, and ones that involve other people and so on.

    Perhaps with some purposes there is no end point – although I guess there are particular projects and activities where we express ourselves best.

    Suicide is acceptable, moral and understandable for those in chronic pain. And probably in other situations too I think.

    • Hey, Evan –

      What struck me the most as I was reading your comment is how much compassion I found within your answer. I get the sense that you very much operate in reality . . . so I’m not finding idealism . . . but I do find a sense of understanding and acceptance of other people’s less-than-ideal experiences.

      I am also struck by how little it seems to bother you that you don’t have it all figured out. I get the sense you are comfortable with letting things play out as they are going to play out and that you don’t feel a need to fully understand and/or control them. That seems like a peaceful way to live.

      Thanks for your thoughtful input!

      – Marie

  2. Do you think suicide is wrong/sinful/irresponsible? Why? According to what authority? – No.

    Is there a difference (i.e.; is one more “wrong” than the other) between proactive suicide (i.e.; shooting oneself) and passive suicide (i.e.; overeating, drinking, smoking, doing drugs, having unprotected sex with multiple partners as a way to get out of living sooner)? – There is a difference, but neither is wrong.

    What do you think happens to your soul after suicide? Do you go to hell? Do you have to come back to earth in a different body and try again to learn the same lessons? Does God have compassion and let you slide into heaven anyway? – I don’t believe that there is a soul that survives after our body is dead. I don’t believe in God. I had no life before I was born, and I’ll have no life after I am dead.

    Do we have a responsibility to stick around until we have fulfilled our purpose? Do we have a purpose for being here on earth? If so, how do we identify and define that purpose? – I don’t believe that we have a purpose. We did not choose to be born, we are a species like any other species on earth, except we supposedly have a higher intelligence level than most. And opposable thumbs. A lot of good these traits have done the human race, in my opinion.

    Is suicide ever acceptable/moral/understandable? – Of course. Everyone has the right to decide if they want to go on living, or to take their own life. I am speaking about adults here though. Children, well, I don’t think they have developed the life experience or the brain development to make this decision. It is truly horrible when children commit suicide.

    • Hey, Harriet –

      I like that you are bringing a whole other perspective to this discussion. I’m guessing you probably noticed that “nothing” and “no higher power” were options I didn’t even include in my questions because I was not thinking along those lines at all. So, thanks for bringing that possibility to the table.

      In my quest to understand and define God, I have at times considered the possibility there isn’t a God — or at least an intelligent, free-thinking God. For me, I have a very hard time believing there isn’t a God of some sort. But, I also recognize I could be wrong.

      If the truth is more along the lines of what you are saying, then it does provide a greater individual freedom for us . . . no higher power means no laws or rules to be followed in order to secure a positive after-life experience.

      Thanks for stretching my mind a bit!

      – Marie

  3. I certainly don’t have THE ANSWER. I don’t condemn someone for killing themselves, but I think it can certainly be a harmful, terrible burden for those left holding the bag, so to speak. I think in rare instances suicide can be a sensible solution, for reasons of terminal illness experiencing great pain, etc.

    As for what happens after, I don’t have a clue and usually try not to speculate. But I want to live and survive and hopefully enjoy and appreciate my life. I feel sorrow for people that reach a place where it no longer feels worth it anymore.

    • Hey, Aaron –

      I don’t have an issue with committing suicide, per se . . . but, like you, the one moral issue I have with it is the tremendous negative impact it can have on others. The one thing that has kept me from killing myself at certain points in my life has been my belief the collective pain I would cause others is greater than the pain I was experiencing in that moment. As long as that is the case, I believe I have a responsibility to live through the pain. However, if I were terminally ill (for example), I think it would cause less pain to others for me to commit suicide at that point because they would be able to make more sense of it.

      Anyway . . . great input! I appreciate your response!

      – Marie

  4. Do you think suicide is wrong/sinful/irresponsible? Why? According to what authority? Under certain circumstances, I believe it is profoundly irresponsible, simply by the rules of interpersonal ethics. If committing suicide abandons a person or persons who are physically or very much emotionally dependent on the person who commits suicide, I think that is both irresponsible and wrong. Leaving behind young children, for example.

    Is there a difference (i.e.; is one more “wrong” than the other) between proactive suicide (i.e.; shooting oneself) and passive suicide (i.e.; overeating, drinking, smoking, doing drugs, having unprotected sex with multiple partners as a way to get out of living sooner)? My answer would be similar to the above … it depends on the person’s responsibilities. I don’t know if you saw the post on my blog about the woman I met who had unprotected sex with a stranger she picked up in a bar while visiting a different city. She has two small kids at home, one of whom is autistic and trusts only her. If she were the only person she was responsible for, I’d say … it’s her business what she does, even if it endangers her; her life, and what she does with it, is between her and herself. But when someone is responsible for others … those others have rights, and I think different choices need to be made to self-protect.

    What do you think happens to your soul after suicide? Do you go to hell? Do you have to come back to earth in a different body and try again to learn the same lessons? Does God have compassion and let you slide into heaven anyway? If there is a God, I’m sure it’s a compassionate God. But overall I think people’s energy comes and goes in different lifetimes, and that this is no different for someone who commits suicide. I do think we’re here on a journey of learning, but I don’t think we necessarily know what the lesson is.

    Do we have a responsibility to stick around until we have fulfilled our purpose? Do we have a purpose for being here on earth? If so, how do we identify and define that purpose? I think we do have a series of purposes, the first of which is to become self-aware enough to heal others more than we hurt them. I don’t think we are necessarily charged with Some Great Task, but I do think that in the process of learning how to live more lovingly, tasks are set in front of us to help us achieve that end. My feeling is that when someone dies before they have the chance to find that kernel of love in themselves, their passing leaves a negative energy space in the world. I think this is true of people who are killed in wars and accidents, who are murdered, etc. — not just people who commit suicide.

    Is suicide ever acceptable/moral/understandable? Yes. I think it is always understandable … nobody commits suicide unless they are driven to a point where they believe it is the only choice they have. I think planned suicide in a terminal illness is perfectly acceptable, and in fact can be a very positive action.

    • Hey, David –

      I found myself repeatedly nodding my head in agreement as I read what you wrote. As was true with Evan’s response, it seems to me you have given these matters much thought and that you have come to workable conclusions that provide enough foundational structure to support you while not being too upset by the parts you don’t yet understand. I think that would be a good place in which to be.

      I like the loving, compassionate spirit of what you have written. There is a lot of room for growing and for declaring the present place to be the perfect place in which to be. There is a sense of rhythm and peace in what you have presented. I really appreciate you giving clarity and language to many of my yet-to-be-clarified mental ramblings.

      – Marie


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