Saturday, 7 July 2012

The Romanticism of Suicide: When Is it Ever Justified?

Dedicated to Handan, whom I assume is resting in peace.

Logical Suicide Versus Emotional Suicide
Suicide for many of us has become a playful fantasy - an intense dream glimmering with a romantic aura. Even at my most anhedonic, my body can still yearn for suicide as if it requires it to 'go on', even if I experience no pleasure from fantasising about it. 

But what people have to realise first and foremost if you have a mental illness, is that suicide is not your traditional escape. It erases a lot of problems, but at the same time it erases you. The first question a would-be suicide must ask themself is whether, if their problems were solved, would they continue to live? The answer in most cases is probably a yes, whether begrudgingly or not. But using suicide as a solution could be the same as using a sledgehammer to knock in a nail in some cases. Suicide, as far as I see it, can only be logically applied for problems that either cause too much suffering or cannot be solved. It is not wise, I hope we can agree, to commit suicide when one enjoys life but has just contracted a stomach flu, because it furthers one's goals and desires more than it fulfills the need not to suffer. Also in this case, it would most likely be emotionally based. What I believe I came across on an anti-suicide (but not a anti-suicide as most are) website once still holds: if you are really prepared to make the biggest decision of your life, then why aren't you prepared to wait for a few days at least to see if you'll reconsider? Suicide is a monumental decision, and hence people should be aware that to some extent they cannot trust their own judgement on it without a good amount of time passing them by. It is also not wise to commit suicide when you have failed your exams, because although your future income may now be lower, you won't suffer to any extreme length due to this. This problem may also be solved by simply retaking those exams, instead of being solved by suicide, the all-purpose cleanser.

Fitting those Requirements

A pen-pal (I think that's the word for e-mail friend) of mine recently committed suicide, and in her case she did not have a mental illness so much as an existential illness. While she was wide awake, performed excellently with a guitar and had long-distance running as a hobby, and most certainly felt pleasure in her life, she could not get past in life her insurmountable hatred for the way things are in the world. This is what I can glean from her past replies to my e-mails, in any case. Her problem was one that could never have been solved in the first place without either the power of a deity or an extremely realistic virtual reality machine. It was also an illness that was causing her quite a bit of suffering; she could not go through the day without hating the world more and more, without despising the desperate void of nothingness and the unthinking masses and the suffering all around us. If she was bad at anything, she was bad at self-delusion. And again, that is an insolvable problem for one whose values do not allow a change in this.

I did what I said you should always do when you come across a suicidal person: try to convince them not to. But after we came to the understanding that she had been this way for quite some time, I decided to simply support her decision.*

If you're wondering why I haven't discussed the relevance of family and friends, new readers, it's because I've already done so in other posts, mainly this one. Along with that, Franc had an excellent article on the same subject, which I am prone to using to argue with people on the matter.

*Don't hate me for not calling the cops on her for expressing her long-lasting belief about what would be best for her. I couldn't in any case as she lived in a different country.  


  1. I am sorry you had to deal with this. I can understand why your friend would feel that way, even though I am not suicidal myself. There are so many horrible things going on in the world that it does make it difficult sometimes to go on with daily life. We all know that at any given moment millions of people are suffering horribly due to what nature does to us (such as terrible diseases, accidents, etc) and because of the harm human beings cause each other.

    One thing that helps me get through life is knowing I am never going to have children, and my sister has decided she never will either, so our line will end with us. There is definitely comfort in that, even though I can't do much else to change the way the world is.

  2. "The first question a would-be suicide must ask themself is whether, if their problems were solved, would they continue to live?"

    Interesting question... for when the problem is existence itself, solving the problem also yields the answer to the question: a resounding "no".

  3. Handon, RIP. You were too good for this world.

  4. I am a fellow antinatalist. I believe I had graced her profile on a dating site. She had impressed me with her words. I am sad to hear this news. Condolences to all who knew and loved her.

  5. I can only repeat Karl's words. Handon, RIP.