Suicide, a fundamental human right

August 19, 2007

This post has moved here on my new blog http://micheleroohani.com/blog/

Sorry for the inconvenience, and I hope to see you on my new blog.

Michele

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11 Responses to “Suicide, a fundamental human right”

  1. askin ozcan Says:

    In as much as I have very big respect for Roohani, for her beautiful web site, I disapprove fully that man must have a right for suicide. Suicide or murder are exactly the same things – one is an act of lack of respect for others, the other is a lack of respect for one’s self. I disapprove of suicide so strongly that if a person commits suicide and does not succeed, he must be punished exactly in the same way as a criminal who has tried to commit murder. Punishment must also entail, of course, education for self-respect. The question that if a person is suffering so much (because of illness for instance) and would therefore like to commit suicide is a medical issue and must be decided upon by doctors. If suicide is in question because of poverty or shame or another social factor, this must be decided upon by relevant social workers, psychologists, religious men to channel the individual back to life and happiness. We must respect life,love, joy, God and ourselves and others and our environment.

    Askin Ozcan

  2. Sister Maguerite Says:

    Like you I’ve never contemplated suicide and more than likely will just enjoy life as much as possible until my death–whenever and wherever and however that will occur. As a chaplain (in the past) I found it hard to be with families in which a member had just committed suicide. They felt so guilty–what could we have done, didn’t understand the signs, etc. etc. But then I couldn’t find it in my heart to condemn the one committing suicide. So I guess I’m not for it myself but wouldn’t be against someone who decides for suicide.

    Controversial subject to say the least but thought provoking! Love, Ma Soeur

  3. Ali Says:

    It’s quite fortunate, for those who oppose suicide that they have never had to face the utter agony, humiliation, and despair some feel at the sunset of their lives. It’s therefore easy, for those of us who seem to have our health – mental and physical – to sit back and pass judgment on the unfolding of events in others’ lives. We tend to freely offer opinion and seem adamant in setting course for destinies other than ours, by introducing laws that disregard the individuality of the human form and its deep rooted need for self determination.
    As Americans, we live in perpetual cognitive dissonance. We are passionate about saving lives. We vehemently oppose euthanasia and abortion, and yet we have no ethical dilemma against capital punishment and the loss of innocent lives in the wars we wage. We call the latter ‘collateral damage’ and forgive it as a necessity but if we destroy four embryonic cells in a petri dish to save millions of lives, we call it murder!
    Understandably, for some of us, life without dignity, health, and comfort may not be worth living. I sincerely wish that this not be a first hand experience for anyone reading these words, and that such experiences of daily agony and despair be reversible one day; but since death is imminent for all of us, expediting the inevitable in the hope of relief is not only humane, it is the ultimate form of liberation for any man. It is liberation from the confines of our experiences, none of which we chose when we were thrown into the world and were told to make the best of it. Granted, the ethereal experience of daily life, when combined with a healthy body and spirit, is uplifting and worth waking up for every morning; but in the absence of the very basic essence of life: our health, peace of mind, love, goals, and passion, life is unrecognizable to many of us.
    I could understand an argument against suicide if humans were immortal by nature; but since we are all destined for the afterlife without any choice in the matter; our decision is only a change of appointment, not a cancellation. For those who propose religious arguments against the morality of this act, I recommend that they let the very God they believe in to make the final judgment on the matter, and not themselves. If a certain God is truly against this matter, if this benevolent God is really interested in seeing his/her beloved creation suffer incessantly of terminal cancer and offer no remedy, then he will see to it that the self martyr is punished for overcoming his imperious will in the afterlife! Meanwhile, a mature culture and liberated society is one that embraces life and death and the wise choices involved at every step along the path.

  4. john Says:

    I completely agree with your point of view on this, but at the same time I would NEVER make it ‘legal’ — too much room for abuse by the state/madmen. EG During Bismarck’s’ time they created a law allowing people to ‘sign themselves out’ for a number of logical and convincing reasons. They also made i possible for a trusted family doctor or other responsible relation to make the decision where it was deemed that the individual was not com pus mentis. The result of that was a legal precedent for Auschwitz. The victims all had certificates saying that they were incurable psycho/socio paths. NOT a good idea. My step father was a surgeon and on certain occasions — terminal cancer patients for whom even the heroin was not enough… He discussed it with me. I respected him. He was morally responsible and took risks in the name of humanitarianism. courage is required. I think that is the was to go. The doctor you mention became too messianic– thought he was God. One patient at a time, one day at a time say I.

  5. steve Says:

    One wonders whether and why
    you are going macabre.
    These are domains I associate more
    with my neck of the woods
    than yours…..

    Here.
    Perhaps take a few RAMMSTEIN to go with your mood.
    They always do a good head clearing video.
    Its one place where a German accent goes well.
    Where “Wagner” meets Industry Techno
    DU – HAST http://youtube.com/watch?v=Mm2eT-sTVys
    AMERIKA http://youtube.com/watch?v=4w9EksAo5hY
    SNOW WHITE http://youtube.com/watch?v=mfHlA3fmJG0

    For a more sentimental ANTIDOTE for “I’m feeling saturday soulful”.
    Try
    another PRAYER http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwUP_xYnKkA
    another FLIGHT http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1Cy78pCn9Y
    another BEING http://nl.youtube.com/watch?v=qK_JfNlNSTk
    another HALLELUJAH http://www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv=P_NpxTWbovE

  6. George Says:

    I hope we all agree that ending a young life because of a temporary depression or a condition that might be cured, should never be aided nor abetted.

    But when a sane person decides, for objective reasons, that their life is no longer worth living, I believe they should be able to put an end to it. We should take into account that modern technology allows our lives to be artificially maintained long after they have any meaning. And in fact nowadays many elderly people in poor health say that they would like their lives to be over.

    To those who think suicide is a crime, I ask why should we deny people, who have no further hope of leading a fulfilling life, the opportunity of leaving us with their dignity intact?

    Looking at our past, there are obvious Darwinian reasons for suicide being taboo. If our ancestors had decided to end their lives when the going got tough, we wouldn’t be here today. But what we are discussing here are people who no longer have any hope of contributing to society nor benefiting from their lives.

    Barring a catastrophic meltdown of our society, future human lifespans will be much longer than presently. I predict that choosing to put an end to one’s life will no longer be taboo. I hope people will celebrate the end of a life with the person surrounded by their loved ones, much in the same way we celebrate birthdays today. Suicide will eventually become a much rarer occurrence than today, because bio-technology will enable people to keep their health intact.

    Another interesting point of view :
    http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/ethicalperspectives/elder0302.html


  7. I believe that it all goes straight to the issue of freedom of choice. This is often described by “the freedom of one stops where the freedom of others starts”.

    I somebody is willing to cut his/her life short, society should not interfere more than protecting the others (possibly even ensuring that suicide can be done properly avoiding botched attempts leading to crippled people). But many of the arguments I read seem (to me) to stop on the issue of whether the deciding person is sane or not. To me, it seems that this is the same as for other liberties. A democratic society should preserve those liberties (of choice) as long as they do not impact others significantly (there is the obvious issue of pain left for the surviving members of the community as sister MAguerite and Ali wrote). It seems shocking because there is no coming back from applying this right/freedom. But it is not essentially different.

    That being said, it must not be only an issue of legalese (freedoms), but we should also include the humane dimension and it seems adequate that we should include the humane efforts of: 1/ helping to ensure that suicide is done as properly (read “without too many risks of failures”); 2/ helping to ensure that this is happening after a sane evaluation of the inner situation (depression has one deep dark side: The depressed is struck so low by the illness that self-representation is warped out of what others would see as “logic” or “reason”).

    Nearly all of our societies include situations where people see their rights restrained partially. Insanity is one of these. And it is important to decide what these allow or not. We no longer are in times where insanity was a reason to remove all freedom from somebody, the limit is always difficult to set. But this should not stop us from looking at it and to create innovative ways to support people (aiming at giving them back their “sane choice” possibility, but not aiming at making them “normal”).

    Isn’t it difficult? Yes it is. Aren’t all practical philosophy questions difficult?


  8. i must admit that the issue of insanity in relation to suicide didn’t cross my mind before Yves mentioned it; the case of a young life ended because of depression is very different to me than the one ended based on insanity – and insanity is so subjective that i am not sure if i want anybody but the fairest of the judges to decide who’s sane and who isn’t. who would be the “guardian”? would a “philosopher king” do? is the society to decide or the government? who is to judge if i am sane enough to end my life when/how/where i decide to do it? is old age a necessary condition? is is sufficient though? who has the right to prolong someone else’s suffering/misery?


  9. The issue is that depression leads to illness which itself leads to insanity. As most physicians/psychologists today agree, depression is only a state and there is no normality to be refered to. So, you have to start asking what is a “young life ended because of depression”? Many people would state that this is somebody who does not see properly. And so, who’s to decide that this is a temporary state of mind (and the subject will come back to a “better state”) or that it can be cured (and I am not even touching the possibility that a cured state may not be “better” than a depressive one).

    What leads my thinking here is that if we want to define a position to be taken, the procedure/criteria/conditions must be workable even if you push it to the extreme limits or if you apply it at the border between conditions.

    So, we are balancing between self deciding (but maybe the individual is not able to make the decision) or society/guardian/external decision (but where goes freedom of choice). Remember that in our societies, we often have categories of people that cannot decide by themselves (old people may be judged needing some tutor/support for important financial decisions, insane people are routinely considered unable to judge by themselves, prisoners are denied a large span of liberties -including their own right to life in some countries).

  10. Lily Daryabegi Says:

    Loved the piece about the suicide.

    Problem is that in our culture , anyone who decides to end their life is considered emotionally unstable and mentally incapable to make that decision. . “No one in their RIGHT mind, would want to consider ending it by will” . I might be liberating to think that you have that choice, but at the same time the moment you utter such thought, you are considered to be emotionally unstable due to a psychological condition and can actually imprison you involuntarily. We as “ licensed clinicians” have no choice but to get the authorities involved and go as far as involuntary hospitalization to prevent this from happening. It is so black and white that there is no debate about the reason a person might come to this decision. WE KNOW WHAT IS BETTER for them. Who are we? We are a bunch of “professionals” who are damaged in our own way and by our own experiences in life.. YET WE know Better.. I am an avid supporter of suicide when it comes to suffering the indignity that some conditions bring.

    I agree that there are conditions that take you to such dark places that you cant see any other way but to take your own life. But, by the same token, I believe suicide to be the strongest “f… you” to everyone who controlled you all your life. That is the one act that YOU cant control me and the only way that I can chose to inflict the pain that I endured to those who remain. It is an act of control and the most powerful revenge and release in some cases, I agree that it is sad to feel that you have no choice but to take your own life, in order to make a point. Yet the most powerful statement that will effect everyone who is left behind.

    It is late and I am tired. I hope this makes some sense. If not we will talk about it some more over a cup of CHai.

    Lily Daryabegi -Shariat

    MFT, ADHD Coach, SAP

  11. D Says:

    DU SUICIDE

    SELON LE PHILOSOPHE FRNCAIS ALBERT CAMUS, DANS “LE MYTHE DE SISYPHE”:
    “IL N’Y A QU’UN PROBLEME PHILOSOPHIQUE VRAIMENT SERIEUX C’EST LE SUICIDE…”
    LE SUICIDE EST UN PROBLEME TRES COMPLEXE QUI, AU FIL DES MILLENAIRES, A ATTIRE L’ATTENTION DES PHILOSOPHES, DES THEOLOGIENS, DES MEDECINS, DES SOCIOLOGUES ET DES ARTISTES. L’ANTIQUITE GRECO-ROMAINE FOURNIT UNE LISTE IMPRESSIONNANTE DE PERSONNAGES CELEBRES AYANT MIS FIN A LEUR JOUR.
    DANS SON ETUDE DU 1897, LE SOCIOLOGUE FRANCAIS EMILE DURKHEIM DEFINIT LE SUICIDE:
    “TOUT CAS DE MORT QUI RESULTE DIRECTEMENT OU INDIRECTEMENT D’UN ACTE POSITIF OU NEGATIF, ACCOMPLI PAR LA VICTIME ELLE-MEME ET QU’ELLE SAVAIT DEVOIR PRODUIRE CE RESULTAT.”
    SA DEFINITION EST PEU APPROPRIEE ET TRES LARGE: PEUVENT ETRE APPELES L’ACTE HEROIQUE D’UN SOLDAT QUI TENTE DE SAUVER UN CAMARADE SOUS UNE GRELE DE BALLES, L’ACTE CHEVALERESQUE D’UN PASSANT QUI SE JETTE DANS LA MER POUR TENTER DE SAUVER UN ENFANT QUI SE NOIE, LA MORT D’UNE FEMME ABANDONNEE PAR SON AMANT, CELLE DU MARTYR QUI MEURT POUR SA FOI. AU LIEU DE RESTREINDRE L’OBJET D’ETUDE, IL L’ELARGIT.
    IL ME SEMBLE PLUS ADEQUATE LA DEFINITION PROPOSEE PAR GIUSEPPE MASI:
    “IN SENSU STRICTO, C’EST L’ACTE PAR LEQUEL LE SUJET SE DONNE VOLONTAIREMENT LA MORT.”
    JE M’EN RAPPORTE A CETTE DEFINITION.
    LE PHENOMENE SUICIDAIRE EST CERTES FORT COMPLEXE ET NE SE RESUME PAS AU TROUBLE PSYCHIATRIQUE MAIS IL NE L’ECARTE PAS, AU CONTRAIRE. IL FAUT DONC ENVISAGER LE PROBLEME DU SUICIDE COMME UN PHENOMENE COMPLEXE QUI FAIT INTERVENIR UN ENSEMBLE DE FACTEURS DE RISQUE.
    LA MORT SUICIDE MET A NU LE PROBLEME DU SENS DE LA VIE, LE PROBLEME DE LA VIE, LE PROBLEME DU SENS: LA VIE EST-ELLE UN CADEAU OU UN BIEN DE CONSOMMATION QUE L’ON UTILISE ET QUE L’ON JETTE QUAND CELA NE NOUS SATISFAIT PLUS?
    L’HOMME EST-IL LE PATRON DE SA VIE OU, AU CONTRAIRE, DOIT-IL EN RENDRE COMPTE?
    C’EST AU-DELA DE TOUTE DOUTE QUE LA FREQUENCE DES SUICIDES EST EN RELATION AVEC LA DESAGREGATION SOCIALE AUX DIFFERENTS NIVEAUX: RELIGIEUX, FAMILIAL ET POLITIQUE. SI LA SOCIETE DEVIENT UN ENSEMBLE DISJOINT DE SUJETS, DONT L’UNIQUE ELEMENT SOCIALISANT C’EST LEUR CONTIGUITE PHYSIQUE, LES SUJETS SE SENTENT DESEMPARES, IGNORES, MAL AIMES, ABANDONNES, ISOLES, PERDUS, SEULS ET SOUVENT INUTILES. C’EST DANS CE CONTEXTE QUE LES IDEES D’AUTODESTRUCTION NAISSENT: ON PENSE AU TRIBUT TRES ELEVE PAYE PAR LES PERSONNES AGEES AU SUICIDE.
    A CE POINT C’EST FORT COMPREHENSIBLE L’EVALUATION ETHIQUE DU SUICIDE, MEME SI DANS LA PLEINE CONSCIENCE DE L’IMPOSSIBILITE HUMAINE D’EVALUER EN DERNIERE INSTANCE LA FACULTE DE CHAQUE SUICIDE.
    ON SAIT TRES BIEN QUE LA MANIERE DONT LES MEDIAS RENDENT COMPTE D’UN SUICIDE PEUT AVOIR UN EFFET D’IMITATION. DANS LA LITTERATURE SCIENTIFIQUE ON PARLE D'”EFFET WERTHER” PARCE QUE LE ROMAN DE GOETHE “LES SOUFFRANCES DU JEUNE WERTHER” DECLANCHA UNE VAGUE DE SUICIDES CHEZ LES JEUNES GENS DE L’EPOQUE.
    LE 10 SEPTEMBRE 2006, A L’OCCASION DE LA JOURNEE MONDIALE DE PREVENTION DU SUICIDE, L’ORGANISATION MONDIALE DE LA SANTE, QUI AVAIT LANCE, EN 1999, SON PROGRAMME SUPRE POUR LA PREVENTION DU SUICIDE, A PUBLIE, A L’INTENTION DES GOUVERNEMENTS, DES PROFESSIONS DE SANTE, DES EDUCATEURS, DES DISPENSAIRES ET DE LA PRESSE, DES RECOMMANDATIONS SUR LA MANIERE D’ABORDER LE PROBLEME DU SUICIDE.
    AU NIVEAU MONDIAL LE SUICIDE FIGURE PARMI LE TROIS PREMIERES CAUSES DE DECES CHEZ LES 15-44 ANS.
    LE SUICIDE SE VOIT PRESQUE A TOUS LES AGES, QUELQUE SOIT LA CULTURE OU L’ORIGINE ETHNIQUE.
    L’ADOLESCENCE EST UNE PERIODE PARTICULIERE MARQUEE PAR DE PROFONDS REMANIEMENTS PSYCHOLOGIQUES ET BIOLOGIQUES. LES ADOLESCENTS VIVENT AU MOMENT PRESENT ET LES EMOTIONS SONT VECUES DE MANIERE INTENSE ET GLOBALE. CHEZ EUX, LES EVENEMENTS DE LA VIE SONT TRES SOUVENT DES FACTEURS PRECIPITANTS, MEME SI NOUS POUVONS LES JUGER INAPPROPRIES.
    L’AVANCEE EN AGE NE PROTEGE PAS DE LA MORT PAR SUICIDE, C’EST MEME L’INVERSE; LES CHIFFRES SONT ACCABLANTS. LE TROISIEME AGE EST UNE PERIODE GENERALEMENT RICHE EN EVENEMENTS VITAUX STRESSANTS. C’EST L’AGE DES PERTES: PERTE SOCIALE, ALTERATION DE L’ASPECT ET DES CAPACITES PHYSIQUES, PERTE DE LA SANTE ET DES ETRES CHERS. MEME SI LA PLUPART DES PERSONNES AGEES S’ADAPTENT, IL N’EST DONC PAS ETONNANT DE CONSTATER QUE C’EST UNE PERIODE A HAUT RISQUE SUICIDAIRE.
    POUR CONCLURE, J’AIMERAIS RAPPELER CE QUE DISAIT LE PHILOSOPHE ET ECRIVAIN FRNCAIS PAUL CLAUDEL AUX ETUDIANTS DE LA SORBONNE:
    “JE SUIS UNE RUINE D’HOMME, JE NE SUIS PLUS CAPABLE DE PARLER, JE NE VOIS PLUS, JE N’ENTENDS PLUS, JE NE MARCHE PLUS. MAIS, EN DEPIT DE MA PARALYSIE, JE SUIS ENCORE CAPABLE DE FAIRE QUELQUE CHOSE QUI ME DONNE L’IDEE D’ETRE UN HOMME. JE SUIS ENCORE CAPABLE DE ME METTRE EN GENOUX.”

    Rome, le 7 septembre 2007

    D


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