Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Update on my views on waiting periods

I've argued for waiting periods before a suicide to distinguish between the not-truly-suicidal and the permanently suicidal before, but I've never really explained in detail why. However, Franc's excellent post gave me enough incentive and inspiration to figure out why exactly my emotions tell me it is wrong to let suicidal thinkers (as opposed to those who are firm in their desire to commit suicide) commit suicide.

Just one thing: explain to me again why you don’t want a waiting period? My justification for the imposition of suffering was the violation of the right to live (the logic goes: they don’t really want to die, they are doing this to show people they are in a desperate situation – which is true of some people)* from those (and there are many) who could not give meaningful consent – and the only way to be able to give meaningful consent when you’re about to commit suicide is to show that you are firm in your wish to die and it’s not a one-off choice. I’m not sure now whether that’s the correct attitude to have or not, due to this article. *I try not now to talk about “future utility lost” because due to the nature of the universe, anything could lead to future positive utility being lost. You cannot be deprived of future positive utility because you do not own a particular future – that would make things, well, weird and unhelpful. Thanks to Bazompora

Francois Tremblay:
 Actually, I didn’t say anything about waiting periods, Gomi did.  I haven’t even considered the issue at all, in the entry or in my head. (text omitted about a mistake on my part) Anyhow, I think the main point is this: “the only way to be able to give meaningful consent when you’re about to commit suicide is to show that you are firm in your wish to die and it’s not a one-off choice." Okay, but why is suicide a special situation? Why do we not argue this for everything else? We should have waiting periods for new jobs, any sexual activity (including cuddling and kissing), as well as buying anything at all. Or maybe you can demonstrate that suicide is indeed a special situation re: consent. Either way I look forward to your reply (partially because I like you, and partially because you are a commentator on my blog who is not Gomi).

My reply:
I’m inclined to think that it’s a special situation because it’s probably one of the only situations where no more opportunities will arise. There should be waiting periods for incredibly risky things I feel – anything that could cause death, and suicide is related to that. Ordinary decisions can be recovered from – eventually if you get the wrong job your income could recover. If you kill yourself, you won’t ever have the chance to reverse your decision, while most decisions in life can be effectively reversed (e.g. marriage by divorce). So since non-reversible decisions could possibly have more of an effect than reversible ones, waiting periods should be installed before they are undertaken. If I weren’t against having children entirely, I’d say that abortion should have a waiting period (albeit not too long) installed.

Yes yes I'm a lazy narcissistic twat for not putting this into different words and making a proper post of things. But at least my views have levelled up a bit. Sorry, too many video games.


  1. Who cares; I made it to the "Special Thanks" section of the credits. :-D

    On topic though:
    I don't think we deserve any right to impose any condition on suicide for non-parents. Honestly, one's own life should not only be one's own to destroy, but to make deliberate mistakes against aswell: that's power (over oneself) and you can't have it without responsibilities (to keep your actions in check). I'm not in so much implying to just "deal with it", as I am inferring that we should be careful not impose needlessly on another: consent of one should not be required for another's self-determination, lest we're being invasive. I discern the conflict between 'ascertaining resolution' and 'respecting resolution' to be the 'potential for suffering regret in vain': it's this window that should be closed, rather than be 'suffered from' (regret) or 'suffered for' (enduring more suffering to end it is likewise regrettable).

  2. Since I think drugs should be legal, including the kind of drugs that would allow someone a comfortable and reliable means of suicide, the issue of whether someone should be required to have a waiting period is not that significant to me. I think it is a good idea for someone to wait a little while before killing themselves, but it would ultimately be up to them because the drugs would be available.

  3. Why does it matter if one commits suicide on impulse or after contemplating it for a long time? World is nothing, life is nothing, we are nothing, no need to impose "waiting periods". In the long run we are all dead.