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Is suicide morally acceptable?

While the underlying reasons for suicide are complex and a matter of ongoing research, its defenders generally regard it as a means to escape suffering or to spare other people of suffering. The morality of the act has been studied by both philosophers and religious scholars.

Implications to Other Questions

Should euthanasia be legal?
Is suicide morally acceptable?

Experts and Influencers

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Experts In Philosophy

Friedrich Nietzsche    Iconic Philosopher of 19th Century
Natural death is destitute of rationality. It is really irrational death, for the pitiable substance of the shell determines how long the kernel shall exist. The pining, sottish prison-warder decides the hour at which his noble prisoner is to die. ... The enlightened regulation and control of death belongs to the morality of the future. At present religion makes it seem immoral, for religion presupposes that when the time for death comes, God gives the command.
01 Jan 1880    Source

Experts In Literature

David Foster Wallace    Novelist, Essayist, English Professor
All this business about people committing suicide when they're "severely depressed;" we say, "Holy cow, we must do something to stop them from killing themselves!" That's wrong. Because all these people have, you see, by this time already killed themselves, where it really counts. ... When they "commit suicide," they're just being orderly. They're just giving external form to an event the substance of which already exists and has existed in them over time.
01 Jan 1984    Source

Experts In Media

Johann Hari    Journalist
I was lucky. I managed to find medication that stopped the agony. [But] Sylvia Plath and the late playwright Sarah Kane tried all the anti-depressants and treatments they could, and none of them worked. They made a rational decision to die. Individuals forced to choose between unbearable pain and death should not be condemned for choosing death; it can be the kindest thing to both themselves and to their families. To dismiss them as "selfish" is a failure of empathy.
12 Nov 2004    Source

Experts In Philosophy

Immanuel Kant    Iconic Philosopher of 18th Century
He who contemplates suicide should ask himself whether his action can be consistent with the idea of humanity as an end in itself. If he destroys himself in order to escape from painful circumstances, he uses a person merely as a mean to maintain a tolerable condition up to the end of life. But a man is not a thing, that is to say, something which can be used merely as means, but must in all his actions be always considered as an end in himself.
01 Jan 1785    Source

Experts In Religion

The Catholic Church    Largest Christian Church
Everyone has the duty to lead his or her life in accordance with God's plan. That life is entrusted to the individual as a good that must bear fruit already here on earth, but that finds its full perfection only in eternal life. Intentionally causing one's own death, or suicide, is therefore equally as wrong as murder; such an action on the part of a person is to be considered as a rejection of God's sovereignty and loving plan.
05 May 1980    Source

Experts In Literature

G. K. Chesterton    Famous 20th Century Writer
Not only is suicide a sin, it is the sin. It is the ultimate and absolute evil, the refusal to take an interest in existence; the refusal to take the oath of loyalty to life. ... His act is worse (symbolically considered) than any rape... [At least] the thief compliments the things he steals [but] the suicide insults everything on earth by not stealing it. He defiles every flower by refusing to live for its sake ... There is not a tiny creature in the cosmos at who his death is not a sneer.
01 Jan 1908    Source


Add Your TakeOnIt (click to expand, no login required)
0 Points      dionisos      23 Aug 2016      Stance on Question: Agree
Suicide can reduce suffering a lot.

0 Points      Anonymous      04 Jun 2013      Stance on Question: Mostly Disagree
We did not choose to be be born. We did not choose our life's origination. Is our life a gift, a burden to bear? Do we have the "right" to choose the means and time of our death? Certainly our death will affect others who love us. Some of these effects will surely be negative. Does the relief from our own suffering (suicide) outweigh the suffering imposed upon others by our death? Is this even a relevant question? The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away; a time to be born and a time to die. For some, is suicide their time to die? Or, is it only the Lord who can giveth and taketh away life. Something in my stomach does not seem to allow me to consider suicide for my own betterment. In spite of severe depression, I just can't seem to justify pulling the trigger -- so to speak.

1 Point      Nashhinton      12 Feb 2013      Stance on Question: Agree
Touchy subject. Depending on the circumstance, suicide is morally permissible.

0 Points      Radioactivity      09 Apr 2010      Stance on Question: Agree
It's hard for me to look at suicide as something that can be "right" or "wrong". I don't think my worldview even allows me to consider the possibility of it being morally unacceptable, because that implies that there could be repercussions for killing yourself, and that in turn requires that there be something to face after death (i.e., an afterlife or some higher power, neither of which I believe in).

0 Points      Adam Atlas      09 Apr 2010      General Comment
Does that mean that your moral system is based only on consequences to yourself? If so, do you also judge other people's actions on this basis?

0 Points      Radioactivity      09 Apr 2010      General Comment
Okay, taking into account the fact that my moral system is more accurately based on whether or not the widespread practice of any action is largely detrimental to a functioning society, I still think suicide is acceptable. Arguably death in general harms society, but if an individual no longer wishes to be a part of it, then I think it's their basic right to be able to remove themselves.

My moral system is also kind of biased toward being less accepting of actions that deliberately negatively impact the people around you (but aren't felt on a larger level), and people who are suicidal aren't killing themselves out of a desire to hurt those around them-- it's unreasonable to expect them to continue suffering because of that consequence, I think.

0 Points      milkfloatgunner      26 Nov 2009      Stance on Question: Agree
We don't know that life is a great gift. More likely it is an insubstantial little thing in the greater scheme of things; but as far as we know, it is all we have. Essentially life constricts us; gives us boundaries. If a person's life is going badly and they can't deal with it, they should be able to liberate themselves from it. I don't advocate suicide obviously, it's a terrible thing and I would try and talk anyone considering killing themselves out of it. But I see it as wholly acceptable from a moral standpoint.

0 Points      mkearns      18 Nov 2009      Stance on Question: Disagree
Not everyone believes in god.