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Death
By jimgon (Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 08:16:21 AM EST) (all tags)
 When is suicide a rational decision?


As someone who believes strongly that adults should have the final say on their own lives it's a question that comes to mind when I see the standard responses to celebrity suicide. The standard response seems to be it is never rational and then works from there with supporting arguments. Starting with never is not an acceptable response to me on this. I've been thinking of this in terms of "there are cases where suicide is rational option" and then trying to support that.  And yes, I'm aware that it may not be rationally supportable.

And no, you don't have to put me on a watch list. This is a mental exercise.
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Serious Question | 31 comments (31 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Suffering (quality of life) by marvin (4.00 / 4) #1 Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 09:49:41 AM EST
That is usually where it makes sense to me. I would take my dog or cat to the vet for euthanasia because their life had degraded to endless misery and suffering, and I would feel like a horrible person for prolonging it any further. I believe that is the humane thing to do for animals. Why is it not humane for people to make the same choice for themselves?

However, the problem is how you framed the statement. Is it typically a decision made on the basis of raw logic, with a rational basis? Or is it too often made in the depths of despair, with associated depression or mental illness?

While Robin Williams was recently diagnosed with Parkinsons, Michael J Fox was diagnosed in 1991. He made it public in 1998, and is still actively working in 2014. Thus the tragedy.

tl;dr  I believe it is a rational option. The decision isn't always made in a rational manner. That is where the tragedy lies.

age by gzt (2.00 / 0) #5 Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 01:19:18 PM EST
robin williams was 10 years older than fox.

[ Parent ]
your point? by marvin (2.00 / 0) #6 Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 01:33:29 PM EST
Fox has had it for almost 25 years.

[ Parent ]
the point is that... by gzt (2.00 / 0) #7 Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 06:44:35 PM EST
...age may be factor. it's one thing to have a chronic disease when young and more energetic and more able to recover, another to be old and decaying and find out that you now have a chronic debilitating disease. on top of whatever else you may be dealing with.

[ Parent ]
Parkinsons and Depression by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #8 Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 08:11:34 PM EST
I doubt Parkinsons has anything to do with it.  My aunt's wife has had it for decades and as far as I know quite enjoys life.  It is partially debilitating, but it is not painful and is not as debilitating as many, many other conditions that people deal with every day.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
I boil it down to one guiding principle: by atreides (4.00 / 3) #2 Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 10:14:27 AM EST
When I can no longer wipe my own ass, it's time to check out. If I'm too physically debilitated or in too much pain, if I don't know or remember, or in a situation where my ability to do so will probably never come back, I want my ticket punched. Sure, someone can probably come up with a specific case that I would not agree to it, but as a guiding idea, I think it's just fine. It's more complicated because of the girls, of course, but I also don't want them to remember me as a husk of meat confined to a hospital bed, either.

TL;DR Ass wiping: a reasonable metric for euthanasia.

He sails from world to world in a flying tomb, serving gods who eat hope.

One answer... by ana (2.00 / 0) #3 Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 10:37:01 AM EST
or at least one case to ponder, is detailed in CBB's recent tale, here. 

My own father refused a feeding tube and signed a DNR order, and that was pretty much that. He'd been soldiering through so much for the last couple years of his life, that given the opportunity to check out, he did.

I now know what the noise that is usually spelled "lolwhut" sounds like. --Kellnerin

When... by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #4 Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 12:24:35 PM EST
physical debility as reached the point where day-to-day life is nothing but unpleasantness, and there is no chance of improvement.

I think it's the second bit in particular that makes it rational.  Prolonging exists just to do so when there is no pleasure, only pain to be gained from it is what is irrational.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

Is it a responsible decision? is a better one. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #9 Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 09:42:23 PM EST
I'm okay with it if all of the suicidant's next-of-kin approve. Otherwise, he/she can fuck right off.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

fuck that by clover kicker (4.00 / 1) #11 Sun Aug 24, 2014 at 09:14:38 AM EST
If I fail the "wipe my own ass" standard I'm checking the fuck out and no way do I let my next of kin veto it.

[ Parent ]
tell me what you mean by `rational' by lm (2.00 / 0) #10 Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 11:44:25 PM EST
All too often the word gets used to mean something like 'in accordance with predicate logic'.

But when it comes to live and death situations formal logic fails. That sort of logic under defines what it means to be a rational being.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
Rational by jimgon (2.00 / 0) #12 Sun Aug 24, 2014 at 12:42:44 PM EST
Good question. I'm aware that most people don't make decisions based on pure logical reasoning. So where I'm going is probably more of sound reasoning. Sound reasoning being a lower level than logical reasoning. Not sure if that helps.




---------------
Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
[ Parent ]
It is a hard question to answer by lm (2.00 / 0) #13 Sun Aug 24, 2014 at 12:54:02 PM EST
Some people make life into the primary good. Other people, ones like myself, think that there are some things worth dying for.

I guess the question for me turns out to be more about what things are worth dying for and whether or not dying for any of those things could possibly involve suicide.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
two different types, IMO by iGrrrl (2.00 / 0) #14 Sun Aug 24, 2014 at 10:55:19 PM EST
There is the case like Old Oak, or like my father, where the quality of life due to illness has declined to the point of a very rational desire to end the suffering. But not everyone in that situation comes to the same conclusion.

Then there is the case of depression-related pain. I can't remember where I read it, but people who seriously attempt suicide (like, jump off the Golden Gate Bridge) and survive are generally glad to be alive.

"Beautiful wine, talking of scattered everythings"
(and thanks to Scrymarch)

If you are sensitive don't read this. by Gedvondur (4.00 / 2) #15 Mon Aug 25, 2014 at 11:30:12 AM EST
The ONLY case I support suicide is in the case of unending, unmanageable physical pain/inevitable mental deterioration due to disease.  In that case, they should be able to make that choice. No exceptions.


The rest of the time, depression, darkness, and mental illness.....I understand, but I don't approve. I may even forgive, but I will never approve.

I've lost three first cousins to suicide.  Two by gun, one by asphyxiation via carbon monoxide. I have one uncle who survived the attempt with a gun.

When these cousins died, I saw the faces of their mothers.  Two of them were brothers and my sweetest aunt has never been the same since. 


Suicide, outside of the one exception I made above, is for selfish assholes.  They may be mentally ill.  They may have considerable psychic pain.  But they are still selfish assholes of the first order.  All three of my cousins were selfish assholes of the first order.  Taking that way out was like dropping a grenade into the lives of everyone around them, near and far. 

I still remember seeing my sweet aunt's face after her first son shot himself. I was 10.  I didn't know that "face white as a ghost" was a real thing.  It was almost as if she radiated unimaginable pain.  It stunned my 10 year old self.  It scared me.  I didn't understand and I wanted to make it all not happen with a gesture.  I had known death before that (my grandmother) but this was something different.  My father drank a lot of beer.  I would turn and look and my mother would be watching me play, her eyes full of tears.  I became upset and eventually it was decided I shouldn't go to the funeral.  Family friends watched me for half the day while they buried him.  The next day my father went to that house, to the room where my cousin had blown his brains out and helped my uncle remove the blood-soaked furniture and carpeting.  They then removed the blood stained floors, sub-floors and drywall.   New floors, drywall, and skim coat were put up.  New carpeting was installed.  Then the door was shut.  I don't think anyone used that room again until after they moved out five years later.

Twenty years later his brother repaired the lawn mower in the garage, filled it with gas, started it and lay down on the floor next to it and died. He never forgave himself for his brother's death.  His brother has banged on his door, drunk and wanting to talk at three in the morning. He told him to go sleep it off and they would talk in the morning.  He heard the gunshot five minutes later.  I sat near my sweet aunt at that funeral, thinking about the damage done to everyone again. The damage that would continue to be done to all of us.

My third cousin was nearly as bad. He went so far into the woods that nobody could find him.  He was an airman in Alaska.  The Army and Marines, training in the area searched for a week, plus flyovers, friends, and local authorities and volunteers looked for him.  We waited, hoping to hear that he was alright.  Hoping to hear that he was just AWOL.  

We held a funeral for him at the church were he was baptized four months later.  A funeral with no body, no casket.  His wife and children all there.  With us not knowing where he was or what had happened to him.

At nearly the one year mark to his disappearence, a hunter found him in the woods.  His body was still on the back of his four-wheeler, slumped over the handlebars. Nature and time had taken their toll.  His service sidearm was lying on the ground next to him. It wasn't hard to figure out what happened.  It eventually came out that the third of my cousins to die by their own hand had killed himself in the wilderness because his wife cheated on him.  It shattered everyone again.  He wasn't lost, he didn't have an accident.  There was no animal attack.  He checked out in the most selfish way possible.

He left behind three children under 10 who will NEVER be the same again. He left behind a wife, who despite being unfaithful, did not deserve a lifetime of guilt. He left behind friends, family and everyone. He left us all shredded from a year of not knowing and hoping beyond hope. Our vision of the outdoorsman fallen in the woods he loved replaced by a corpse with a bullet hole in his mouth and the top of his head.

I loved all three of them.  They damage they did is incalcuable.  I don't deny the pain that drove them to it, especially the second one.  I don't deny that they needed help.  But I blame them.  They were selfish to a degree that cannot be discarded or excused.  To kill yourself in this manner is to kill a piece of everyone who loves you and harm anyone who knew you.  When you take your own life, you tell those that love you, in no uncertain terms, that their love for you isn't enough.  You also tell everyone who loves you that you don't love them enough to fight and stay.  It is incontrovertible proof that you are a selfish asshole.

The truth of that doesn't mean you don't love them still. But love and understanding of the pain that drove them to that point doesn't excuse the act or the devastation caused by it.


yes. by ana (4.00 / 2) #16 Mon Aug 25, 2014 at 01:09:38 PM EST
However,
you tell those that love you, in no uncertain terms, that their love for you isn't enough.

There have been times; indeed most of the time, that I feel exactly this. It's a very pro-forma kind of a thing. Put another way, I don't know that I believe in love.
 

I now know what the noise that is usually spelled "lolwhut" sounds like. --Kellnerin

[ Parent ]
Hmmm by Gedvondur (4.00 / 1) #18 Mon Aug 25, 2014 at 02:05:51 PM EST
Well it is an easy thing to become disillusioned in.  It is hard to know what to feel when we say "love".  It is sometimes equally hard to know when you are receiving it too.


[ Parent ]
I approve of her lifetime of guilt. by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #19 Tue Aug 26, 2014 at 04:16:55 AM EST
It sucks to the extreme for all other parties involved, but she needed a harsh lesson re: her own selfish and reckless infidelity. Her actions had consequences too.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Ya by Gedvondur (2.00 / 0) #24 Wed Aug 27, 2014 at 10:56:48 AM EST
She's not my favorite person.  She still lives in Alaska.  I haven't seen her since the funeral. 

I feel a *tiny* bit bad for her.  It's the kids I really feel bad for.  Can you imagine when they are old enough to learn and understand the truth of what happened to their father and their mother's involvement?  Good gravy.  Infidelity and divorce would have been bad enough.





[ Parent ]
Tragedy which could have been averted. by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #25 Wed Aug 27, 2014 at 05:24:16 PM EST
I've lost hope for most adults at this point, really.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
I hear you. by Gedvondur (2.00 / 0) #28 Thu Aug 28, 2014 at 09:18:16 AM EST
People wonder why my consumption of media is mostly escapist.  It's because there is plenty of ugly in the world without watching it or reading about more.


[ Parent ]
I wouldn't call it selfish by Merekat (4.00 / 1) #20 Tue Aug 26, 2014 at 08:22:19 AM EST
But I would not call it rational either. Human beings seem to be able to malfunction to the point that there is no self left to value, and if there is no self of value, how could it hurt people around you more to be absent than to be there? So, not selfish, more the self replaced by a gaping back hole that suicude reflects the 'reality' of. But not rational, and not right either.

[ Parent ]
Emotion by Gedvondur (2.00 / 0) #23 Wed Aug 27, 2014 at 10:37:30 AM EST
I've got too much emotion bundled up with suicide to find it anything but selfish.  But I understand your viewpoint.


[ Parent ]
I have had days by aphrael (4.00 / 1) #21 Tue Aug 26, 2014 at 04:46:04 PM EST
I have had days where I have thought about killing myself.

In those moments, the thought that doing so would hurt those I love is what kept me from doing it.

If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
Thinking by Gedvondur (2.00 / 0) #22 Wed Aug 27, 2014 at 10:36:29 AM EST
I believe that thinking about it is something everyone does.  Even me, with all the negative experiences around it.  Nothing wrong with thinking about it...provided it isn't all the time.  :-)


[ Parent ]
I would think by riceowlguy (4.00 / 2) #26 Thu Aug 28, 2014 at 08:25:23 AM EST
that a strong majority of people who commit suicide are in a mental state where they believe there isn't anybody who cares about them enough to be impacted in any way by their death, so this argument would not work on them.  Either that, or they just aren't thinking about anything other than what they are so afraid of facing.

[ Parent ]
Well by Gedvondur (2.00 / 0) #27 Thu Aug 28, 2014 at 09:17:01 AM EST
I think you are, in general, correct.  I'm not sure I intended my comment to be an arguement against it for those possibly afflicted.  I think that for most, if you can internalize that argument enough to consider it's merits, you are not very close to suicide.


[ Parent ]
I think in some cases by jimgon (2.00 / 0) #29 Thu Aug 28, 2014 at 08:51:03 PM EST
 I think in some cases the person thinks things will be better with out them. 




---------------
Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
[ Parent ]
Yes, this happens, too. by iGrrrl (2.00 / 0) #31 Sat Aug 30, 2014 at 03:26:09 PM EST
The idea that they will be better off without you is a common one in suicide notes. It could be a justification or a real sentiment.

And also, I was thinking about "no one else loves/cares about me enough" thing. What are the expectations of love? If you think someone doesn't love you "enough", does that mean you're expecting them to always put every consideration of yours ahead of their own? To know what you need without you telling them? That's selfish, too.

"Beautiful wine, talking of scattered everythings"
(and thanks to Scrymarch)

[ Parent ]
Read this blog by lb008d (4.00 / 1) #17 Mon Aug 25, 2014 at 01:58:37 PM EST
I have read this man's blog from start to end, this is his final entry:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/living-while-dying/201106/farewell

Among other many great reasons to live in Washington State, our right-to-die law is one of them.

This helps by jimgon (2.00 / 0) #30 Sat Aug 30, 2014 at 09:43:43 AM EST
 A lot of this seems to fit into what I was already thinking. When an analysis indicates that things will continue to decline the it may be a rational choice, but I'm not sold on that. It just means a lack of hope and I'm not sure if that in itself is rational. But then there's hope and false hope. So more thinking is needed.




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Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
Serious Question | 31 comments (31 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback