I mean more so than any other major decision a person might make in their life?
You could argue that suicide is no more selfish than deciding to break up with someone, disown your family, move out of the country, switch religions, or having a debilitating mental illness.
Studies suggest that more than 90% of people that commit suicide had a diagnosable mental illness. The most common cause of death for suffers of schizophrenia is suicide. Is a person suffering from severe mental illness, and so obviously not entirely or maybe even marginally rational at the time, merely being "selfish" when they kill themselves?
Why do some of us feel so harshly about victims of suicide? Grieving for a suicide victim is complicated, the person you are grieving for is also the person that killed someone you love. Rather than deal with whatever problems you think were the reason for their flight from life they chose to saddle you with grief. You might feel guilty, maybe there was something you could have done (and there may well have been), and powerless, now there is nothing you can do because the final act is taken. You may feel guilty for being relieved if they had been on a nasty downward spiral for some time, and you resent them for it. And lastly you can't tell them how badly they've hurt you with what they've done, well you can but it would be less satisfying knowing there is no chance they will squirm with guilt. If someone else had killed them at the very least there is a chance the killer would be brought to justice.
Anyway I guess I understand why someone might be angry or denounce all suicides as selfish assholes, but is suicide really a selfish act? If so is it any worse than so many other selfish things a person might do while alive?
It is very self absorbed in all cases.
But it is not necessarily selfish in all cases.
Some people genuinely believe they are doing the world a favour by taking themselves out of it, and therfore it is a truly selfless act.
But to get that far, deciding you're better off dead, means you must be very wrapped up in your own issues.
There are people starving to death in the world, people who don't even get a chance. If I ever thought suicidal thoughts I would remind myself, simply; there are plenty of things I can do to help the world before I go so I should do them.
You all desire Democracy and freedom to "the people" equally?
Well then live free and do as "you" please. If you want to live out your life to the fullest then you are free to do so, on the other hand if you find reason to kill yourself then again you are free to do as you please. It's a free country right? If such critical decisions cannot be made by one person, then let's finally give up this aging democracy and try Dictatorship where one person makes all the decisions for everyone. That way no one can kill themselves
I don't think it is a matter of being 'wrapped up in one's own issues' I think it is often a matter of the quality of someone's life becoming intolerable due to mental illness. It is not something that the person could just take a step back from and consider other people. Even if they can do that rationally, their emotions are still causing them to suffer. It is not easy to look beyond oneself when overcome with depression.
Also we have no duty to help other people, and especially if our lives are shit it doesn't make sense to value the interests of other people (even less so people we don't know) over our interests, even in the case where our interest is to commit suicide.
Maybe the phrase "wrapped up in their own issues" is a bit flippant, but it still stands that it is a totally self-absorbed condition. Focus is all on the self; the point of their life, their place in the world, their pain and their circumstances.
There is no duty to help other people, if you decide that. It depends on the deep-rooted principles you have and what you choose to do with yourself.
But anyway, helping other people is only one, very broad, conclusion of forcing oneself to think of the alternatives to suicide. It is one that I concluded at one point during my battles in defining the meaning of life. There are many more; millions of choices. A lot of them are still focussing on the self but liberate it from the intolerable circumstance.
I mean, I'm going to die anyway, I don't really need to do it myself. In the mean time I have an opportunity to do anything I want. In fact, if I'm going to kill myself one day then I have an immense amount of freedom to do anything I want in between, because there are no repurcussions. I won't be here to see the aftermath. Whether I choose to dig a hole to China, help my friends or community or whatever.
If someone has absolutely nothing to live for and nothing left to do - they don't feel there is any way they can improve themself, the world, anything they can do for their family, their friends... then fine; it is their right to end it now if they really choose. It is pretty hard to say that there is NOTHING you could do to help someone you care about. But they should force themself to think reasonably. Give it some time to allow it to change. There are so many opportunites for overcoming the way they think and they should try them before making that ultimate choice.
And if mental illness or depression is the dissolution of reasonable thought due to overwhelming emotion then would you agree that they need guidance and help? Steering towards looking for alternatives to that life and help in curing the illness? One form of advice for this is what I said originally. Force yourself to think more externally. Think of others. It may help you immensely.
I don't believe a suicidal person should think more about others. You need to be happy with yourself in the first place to be happy.
It's also obvious that it differs from case to case. There is an endless amount of reasons to be depressed and/or suicidal, but it all does come down to feeling hopeless, thinking there is no way out (in life) so some people decide to step out of life.
Well I'm not saying in order for every suicidal person to overcome suicidal thoughts they need to just ignore them selves and commit their life to selfless acts. I'm saying it's a route to gathering perspective of the self. It is rewarding and gives the self a purpose - even if it's just a temporary distraction while the cognition alters due to focussing on something else for a change.
And I don't understand what you mean when you say "You need to be happy with yourself in the first place to be happy."
I agree with that in some cases; it is all very individual to people. I didn't intend to offer an answer for all when I mentioned how I, personally, dealt with it. Although, I think acting selflessly is generally such a rewarding way to behave that it does make you feel good. I think considering other people, family, friends, strangers in the street, may be an indirect route to a purpose and happiness for a lot of cases.
Is dócha nach bhfuil seans ar bith ann?
Is suicide selfish?
July 08, 2012, 09:26am
So, I have a question, aimed at the people who think that suicide is inherently selfish.
If suicide is selfish, what about euthanasia? If someone has a terminal illness, is it not equally selfish for them to choose to end their life, because of the people they will be leaving behind? A physical illness and a mental illness can be equally debilitating.
Is dócha nach bhfuil seans ar bith ann?
Is suicide selfish?
July 08, 2012, 02:38pm
I agree, it's not terminal. However, for some people, it can be a lifelong, life changing illness. If someone has a really painful, life destroying physical illness that is not necessarily terminal, it seems that people are fine with euthanasia in such cases. So why is it not the same when it comes to mental illnesses?
Is dócha nach bhfuil seans ar bith ann?
Is suicide selfish?
July 08, 2012, 02:57pm
Incurable mental health conditions are completely reliant on medication to subdue the symptoms. So in an instance such as that, where the condition is not life threatening or terminal, but is life-long and debilitating, is it really selfish to kill oneself?
That question is directed at the people who called suicide selfish, by the way, not you specifically.
"If consciousness, and thus the ability to be happy or depressed, was simply a collection of "numbers" adding u we would have thinking computers."
Not exactly. Just because we haven't reached a point with AI where we can make conscious machines doesn't mean that consciousness isn't computational. It may be that it isn't, but our lack of conscious AI doesn't prove it. Another alternative is that we haven't figured out how to represent it computationally yet, but that it is still possible.
I think you are really simplifying the scenario. Our mental life involves many abilities, consciousness is only one element of our mind. A computer can do various things that a human mind can do. They can detect patterns, such as faces, they can reason and play various games, and they can carry out expert tasks like diagnosing specific medical conditions. But we are not yet able to put it all together.
Our understanding of the brain is a lot more basic than you make it out to be. We have an idea of the principles involved in brain activity, and we understand how various brain areas connect to various cognitive phenomena, we can, in a limited sense, control objects with the mind and decode some images, but we still have a very limited understanding of it. We have not pinpointed how consciousness works. The huge complexity of the brain means we cannot decode much of what is happening in the brain. So we are not at a point, like you suggest, where we have it all figured out and should have conscious AI if we are correct that it is computational.
It could be that consciousness involves some very specific phenomena, say connections and specific kinds of computations between many subsystems of the brain which are involved in cognition such as perception and memory. For example a computer could carry out an arithmetical or logical operation very simply, but the activity that takes place when running,software such as a video game will be much more complicated. I think the situation could be analogous with the mind, even though we can decode some basic mental phenomena, consciousness is a more complicated process and requires that we understand more of how the brain works and is connected and more theoretically about what kinds of computations and cognitive systems could lead to consciousness.
Also we do not even understand to what level lower species are aware. For example we have only determined that some mammals can recognize themselves in mirrors. It is possible that many animals do not have an awareness of self and their actions and so they would have no consciousness in the sense that we do. They are clearly aware in that they detect relevant stimuli, but that is something we could already get a computer to do. So our computers might already have the capabilities be as aware as simple animal species.
The argument you were making is not valid. You are misrepresenting how simple a task it might be, and the level of knowledge that we have of consciousness and the brain. The hypothesis that consciousness is computational is not invalidated by our progress on developing AI related to it. It makes sense that if we do not understand the phenomena yet we will struggle to recreate it. It is always possible we could stumble upon the discovery of consciousness, but it is more likely that we will recreate it when we actually understand what is going on. It is also possible that consciousness is not computational, but that is not shown by your argument.
Also if consciousness is truly computational then the line between simulating consciousness and creating it could be very thin.
"the objective fact is that it is more likely to harm other people."
I thinkt this has already been said in this thread. It's the motivation behind an act that makes it selfish or not. Your suicide might have harmed other people, but if you believed otherwise then it's not selfish. It makes you an idiot, but not selfish.
Yes it is. For an act to be "selfish" it must have been motivated by self interest to the exclusion of others'.
Otherwise, as Vermin said earlier; "the correct response to a soldier throwing himself onto a grenade to save his fellow soldiers would be to mutter "selfish bastard" at his twitching remains."
"If it were you could justify any bad action."
Not at all, you can only say that the motivations behind it weren't selfish. Some of the worst things ever done were done with best intentions.
"Objectively your neighbor was not an evil demon, and your belief that they were does not change the fact that you murdered someone."
No of course it doesn't. You're still a murderer, but, and this is crucial, not a selfish one. You did not intend to kill your neighbour, or even cause them any pain, you were after the evil demon threatening you. Do you see? If you weren't acting out of self interest then you weren't being selfish. You could be disastrously mistaken, or criminally insane, but not be selfish.
So... "the correct response to a soldier throwing himself onto a grenade to save his fellow soldiers would be to mutter "selfish bastard" at his twitching remains."
"then you are ignoring everyone elses wishes when you commit suicide"
Does not preclude the possibility that not killing yourself would result in greater suffering, despite others' wishes. That's not "you'd be better off without me" angsting there are many scenarios where that's the case, starting with the one quoted above.
"then you are ignoring everyone elses wishes when you commit suicide...And angsty feelings that everyone else would be better off if you were dead isn't a selfless justification."
That describes a suicide for selfish reasons. Stop giving yourself easy ones, your argument still falls apart.
"intention does not determine if something is selfless or selfish."
It reinforces the exact opposite. If you were not intending to harm others for your own gain then you were not acting selfishly. You may have been acting abhorrently, you may have cause untold damage and suffering, but you wouldn't have been selfish.
Selflessness itself doesn't justify something. It's not the be all and end all of morality.
For many Japanese, it was the manner in which you died that had more significance then the life they lived previously.
Saying they had no respect for life, is a gross hyperbole statement, there was much compassion at times, owed to the individual, on context sensitive situations, but yes they were allways a very violent people and bloodshed was ingrained in their culture for quite some time.
They saw nobility and significance in the act of ritual suicide. The manner in which you died, how you chose to die could potentially make so much more of a statement then one could have done in the course of life.
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