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Suicide is the act of deliberately killing oneself.
Suicide is viewed by various religions as a sin, including Islam (which puts a damper on suicide bombers' claims to those 72 virgins), Judaism, Hinduism and some groups of Christianity (despite Jesus Christ basically committing suicide-by-proxy),[note 1] usually because of "thou shalt not kill", sanctity of life, God's will, and such stuff. God is considered infinitely loving and compassionate, but by this logic has little or no compassion for those whose desperation and misery overcome their survival instinct.
Treating suicide as a mortal sin is almost certainly a retrofit, due to the discovery that preaching eternal happiness in heaven, as the Christian faith does, led to people killing themselves in order to get there faster, a trend which ended with Augustine of Hippo's redefinition of suicide as a sin, rather than a valid means of martyrdom.
It should be noted that modern Catholic doctrine acknowledges that most suicides happen due to mental illness, and thus are not a mortal sin due to lack of moral responsibility. Strangely enough, the people to belittle those wanting to commit suicide as "cowardice" or "selfish" generally fail to comment upon whether forcing someone to live in agony with insults and threats of Hellfire is also a selfish act.
“”I grew up Catholic; I went to Catholic school where we were taught Jesus’ final words on the cross, when he could no longer take the suffering: “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” Tell me: How’s that not aid in dying?
|—Kelly Davis, who assisted her sister (diagnosed with ALS) in ending her life|
Assisted suicide is the provision to an individual of the means necessary to kill oneself. In the few jurisdictions where this is legal, the only person legally empowered to provide such means is a licensed physician; thus, this process is also known as physician-assisted death (PAD). Assisted suicide/PAD is a form of euthanasia, but it is distinct from euthanasia, as the individual being euthanized is (ostensibly) performing the act him/herself.
Assisted suicide is a controversial political issue. It is legal in the Netherlands, Colombia, Switzerland, Japan, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Estonia, and Albania; the US states of Washington, Oregon, California, New Mexico,[note 2] Montana, and Vermont; and the Canadian province of Quebec. In every state and jurisdiction where it is legal, strict regulations exist to ensure the individual performing suicide has a serious, painful, physical or psychological illness that causes unbearable agony, where all treatment attempts have been exhausted and is mentally and physically capable of administering the suicide drugs him/herself, has given informed consent several times, and has the opportunity to withdraw such consent at every stage of the process.
At least one person in the US (a 90-year-old woman with no medical qualifications) has been prosecuted for selling mail-order "suicide kits."
The threat of suicide can make a person feel manipulated; while these threats should be taken seriously, people who are faced with threats of suicide by others should not allow themselves to be manipulated by them. Frequent threats of suicide used to enforce compliance within a relationship are regarded as a form of emotional abuse.
The FAQ of the pro-suicide choice newsgroup alt.suicide.holiday (ASH) argues that expressed suicidal ideation is often misinterpreted as manipulation because people believe that a truly suicidal person would have killed themselves already.
The person could simply wish to discuss whether suicide is the best option because he is not yet sure and wants input from others. The a.s.h. FAQ claims "Many complicating factors require significant time to think through in order to decide whether or not to commit suicide. But even if one has decided to exit, there is also a matter of choosing, planning, and carrying out a suicide method. Suicide is not easy . . . and many people require much deliberation before deciding how to go about it." Eight out of ten people considering suicide give some sign of their intentions. People who talk about suicide, threaten suicide, or call suicide crisis centers are 30 times more likely than average to kill themselves.
Suicide contagion is a phenomenon where reporting on a suicide increases suicide risk of readers. Journalists and media producers need to be extremely cautious when creating media on suicide.
- celebrity suicide
- intense focus on the person who committed suicide
- a transcript of a suicide note
- elaboration on location or method of death
- persistent and prominent media coverage
- sensationalized death
While suicide contagion is a real phenomenon, there are also several cases of moral panics about imagined epidemics of suicide, generally among the young. One of the earliest cases followed the publication of The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in 1774; despite a small number of suicides which might be attributed to the book, the epidemic of people worrying that the book would lead to suicide was far greater.
A more recent case was the so-called Bridgend suicides, an alleged epidemic in south Wales, which turned out to be a statistical coincidence augmented by inaccurate reporting. Another, almost entirely imaginary, moral panic was the so-called blue whale challenge in Russia from around 2015, where there were internet rumors of a suicide challenge where people would be given 50 increasingly difficult challenges, ending with "kill yourself". The challenge appeared to be an urban myth, spread by teenagers in forums and chatrooms, and the rumors were later used by musician Philipp Budeikin to promote his "witch house" techno music, which led to his jailing for encouraging children to kill themselves.
Thomas Szasz drew a comparison between suicide and self-medication, arguing that both are activities that were once allowed by law and that, according to libertarian theory, should be re-legalized as basic human rights.
- It is thought by some that Jesus' death counts as sacrifice (to forgive humanity's sins); however, this means an omnipotent God sacrificed his son and/or himself in order to forgive. It has been argued that it does not count as a sacrifice at all. It's also possible for something to be both a sacrifice and suicide of course.
- PAD exists in a legal grey area in New Mexico. While not permitted by statute in New Mexico as in the five other states that permit it, a recent court ruling in Bernalillo County enjoins the state government from prohibiting the practice, and the ruling's applicability to other counties in the state has not yet been tested.
- Suicide:A European Perspective by Nils Retterstøl at Google books
- The Psychiatry of Palliative Medicine: The Dying Mind, Page 209, Sandy Macleod
- "Quebec end-of-life-care law means new era for health providers". http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-end-of-life-care-law-means-new-era-for-health-providers-1.2667127. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
- Feeling Manipulated by Suicide Threats?
- Myths about suicide
- What to do when feeling manipulated by suicide threats
- You don't *really* want to die, otherwise you would have done so by now, Are you for real?, The alt.suicide.holiday (a.s.h) FAQ
- Suicide, Mental Health America
- Reporting suicide and mental Illness: A Mindframe resource for media professionals PDF
- "Was There a Suicide Epidemic After Goethe's Werther?", Jan Thorson and Per-Arne Öberg, Archives of Suicide Research, Volume 7, 2003 - Issue 1 (2010)
- , Blue Whale: What is the truth behind an online 'suicide challenge'?, Ant Adeane, BBC Trending Blogs, 13 January 2019
- Assisted Suicide is Bootleg Suicide, Thomas Szasz, 23 November 2001, Los Angeles Times.