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.