Re: Suicide as a Natural Right. (was: Re: In defense of Friendliness)

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Thu Oct 24 2002 - 00:35:02 MDT

Aaron McBride wrote:
> You're sidestepping the issue a bit, but I'll try to be clearer.
> At 10:35 PM 10/19/2002 -0700, you wrote:
>> <clip>
>> I am not at all a suicidal person.
> That's nice to hear. :)
>> However, some claim that I owe other people continuing to live even
>> if I find no happiness in it would be enough to put many over the edge.
> There was no mention of "no happiness." But... if you are arguing that
> suicide is a natural right in the case of life with "no happiness", then
> I'd say that you have a natural right to pursue happiness, but ending
> your life is not a rational way of attaining happiness.

I will not fall into a debate about what a "natural right" is.
But I can hardly find something that is more the business of the
individual than the very personal decision whether their life
brings enough hope, or happiness or is too full of negatives to
wish to go on. Is it rational to go on if you become convinced
that there is no reasonable hope or if your world is hell? I
would not dare claim I can answer that question for other people
or in general. I can only answer it for myself.

>> That is about the most vicious collectivist statement I have seen in
>> some time.
> Is that good or bad? I'm confused. (on one hand, it doesn't seem that
> bad to me, so maybe you're saying that collectivistims isn't that bad
> either... but that seems to contradict the tone of your message. hmmm)

Saying that human beings owe the collective so deeply that they
should continue to live regardless of their own feelings,
perceptions and experiences is certainly not ambiguous. It is a
very bad notion of duty binding human beings as effective slaves
to the collective.

>> I don't live for others to draw value from me. I live because
>> living itself is of value to me. I contribute out of strength, joy
>> and wanting to make a difference. I don't do so because I am enslaved
>> by some "duty" to others.
> Ok, that's fine for you... you're not suicidal. You have a reason to
> live that is greater than your "duty to others". That's how it should
> be. But what about people who are suicidal?

Actually, I was suicidal when I was young - very much so. It
was the realization that I did have a choice and what that
choice implied that took me beyond being suicidal. Prohibiting
the choice will not encourage people to find their own deep
appreciation of life and dedication to a life that has meaning
to them. It is mroe likely to cheapen life and the process of
such profound and fundamental choosing.

Is your point about what will keep the suicidal person alive or
about the suicidal person's right to choose life or death for
themselves? As a conversation about rights I don't believe it
is justified to claim that it might inconvenience the group and
therefore the individual does not have the right to decide this
and act on their decision.

> How does terminating ones
> life give them more freedom or happiness?

Most suicides terminate to finally end their real and/or
perceived pain and suffering, not to acquire more freedom and
happiness. So you seem to be asking the wrong question.

> You should have the right to
> do with your life what you want SHORT OF interfering with other people's
> rights to do what they want AND ending your own life.

You are asserting baldly that we don't have the right to end our
own life? Am I reading you correctly? If I don't have such a
right then what exactly do I have? Why this great exception in
my right to my own life? If the decision to live, with all that
implies, or to die is not in my hands then what is? And what
exactly empowers you to say what people do and do not have a
right to anyway?

>Your duty to
> others does not enslave you, it frees you to continue living, to
> continue pursuing happiness.

Denial of choice is never about freedom. What if someone is
simply sick of "pursuing happiness" or has no more they can gain
as far as they can see? What of someone suffering from a
terminal disease and in excruciating, unending, mind-eating
pain? Would you deny even them the right to simply say "ENOUGH"?

>> Seeing it as duty where even such a personal and fundamental
>> decision as whether to live or die is determined by the collective is
>> a very dark way to look at life and the world.
> That's just it. Suicide isn't only personal. It affects the people
> around you, usually negatively. Oh, and I never suggested that the
> collective should decide when you die. We're not talking about murder
> here... it's more like anti-murder.

It is one of the most personal things there is. The choice to
live, taken fully consciously and followed in its implications
ceaselessly, rather than just defaulting to being biologically
alive or being duty-bound to such "life", is far too precious
and important to glibly force a pale semblance. If I cannot
choose death then I cannot choose life. I am choiceless in the

- samantha

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