A Case for Suicide

Disclaimer: I am in no way, shape, form or man­ner plan­ning, think­ing about plan­ning, plan­ning of think­ing about plan­ning or at­tempt­ing sui­cide. Quite a bit of time in my an­thro­po­log­i­cal learn­ing process was de­vot­ed to the study of sui­cide, this stems from that. Some bits and pieces al­so come as a re­sult of my delv­ings in­to ex­is­ten­tial­ist phi­los­o­phy. Thank You.

Emile Durkheim talked about both sui­cide and anomie; anomie be­ing a state that can cul­mi­nate in sui­cide. Snitching from the linked site, we get two de­f­i­n­i­tions:

Egoisitic {sic} sui­cide re­sult­ed from too lit­tle so­cial in­te­gra­tion. Those in­di­vid­u­als who were not suf­fi­cient­ly bound to so­cial groups (and there­fore well-de­fined val­ues, tra­di­tions, norms, and goals) were left with lit­tle so­cial sup­port or guid­ance, and there­fore tend­ed to com­mit sui­cide on an in­creased ba­sis. An ex­am­ple Durkheim dis­cov­ered was that of un­mar­ried peo­ple, par­tic­u­lar­ly males, who, with less to bind and con­nect them to sta­ble so­cial norms and goals, com­mit­ted sui­cide at high­er rates than un­mar­ried peo­ple.

The sec­ond type, Altruistic sui­cide, was a re­sult of too much in­te­gra­tion. It oc­curred at the op­po­site end of the in­te­gra­tion scale as ego­is­tic sui­cide. Self sac­ri­fice was the defin­ing trait, where in­di­vid­u­als were so in­te­grat­ed in­to so­cial groups that they lost sight of their in­di­vid­u­al­i­ty and be­came will­ing to sac­ri­fice them­selves to the group’s in­ter­ests, even if that sac­ri­fice was their own life. The most com­mon cas­es of al­tru­is­tic sui­cide oc­curred among mem­bers of the mil­i­tary.

Camus’s The Myth of Sisyphus makes a philo­soph­i­cal case against sui­cide, some­thing which Camus was might­i­ly con­cerned. His as­ser­tion that sui­cide is a state­ment that life is not worth liv­ing seems to ap­ply more to Durkheim’s ego­is­tic sui­cide than the al­tru­is­tic ver­sion, this makes sense to me be­cause Camus is con­cerned with a per­son as an in­di­vid­ual en­ti­ty in­stead of some­one who can damp­en their will to sac­ri­fice for oth­ers. A mean­ing­less life is the ul­ti­mate ab­sur­di­ty and this is fine. What seems to have trou­bled Camus so is that sui­cide is a re­jec­tion of life be­cause the life does not fit the mold of the per­son liv­ing it. Suicide is there­fore the dumb­est philo­soph­i­cal thing some­one could do.

Those bloody Romans had all kinds of ideas about sui­cide too. But all too of­ten it seems that sui­cide was more of a po­lit­i­cal act than done for Durkheim’s take on al­tru­is­tic or ego­is­tic rea­sons. Cato for in­stance, did not kill him­self be­cause of the de­gree to which he was or was not in­te­grat­ed in­to so­ci­ety. He killed him­self be­cause he would not live un­der Caesar. This seems to threat­en Camus’s take as well, be­cause I don’t see how Camus can den­i­grate Cato’s use of Cato’s life for a sui­cide that is done in this man­ner.

In one of my re­cent National Geographics, a state­ment [which cou­pled with a sort of A Modest Proposal spin gave me the idea for this] along the lines of ‘Only a nine­ty per­cent re­duc­tion in hu­man pop­u­la­tion can re­sult in the preser­va­tion of en­dan­gered and threat­ened species in nat­ur­al habi­tat.’ This was in or­der to keep some species from be­ing wiped out and oth­ers from be­ing mere cu­rios [on­ly kept alive by con­stant hu­man breed­ing and in­ter­ven­tion]. This brings me to my case for sui­cide. Instead of folks killing them­selves be­cause ‘no one cares’ or be­cause ‘the world is a ter­ri­ble place’ why not axe your­self in the name of con­ser­va­tion? It is al­tru­is­tic and you’ll be in good com­pa­ny with the likes of Cato, be­cause you are al­so do­ing it be­cause you will not live in a world where an­i­mals are mis­treat­ed. I’d do it my­self but I’ve got to go spread the mes­sage. You un­der­stand I’m sure.

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