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Question:

How do you think we should define suicide? Discuss the six potential examples of suicide the textbook offer us at the beginning of chapter 6 and explain whether each example is suicide and why. Is suicide ever an ethical decision and can it be a rational decision? In answering this question fully explain the arguments presented by Kant and Brandt. What about their arguments do you agree with and what do you disagree with? Argue against those parts you disagree with.

Answer:

Define Suicide

Suicide can be defined as ‘self killing’. The processes of suicide may differ with an intention to end one’s life. Individual attempts suicide by using different tools and techniques, to name few most common of them are jump from heights, hanging oneself, self burning, lie at the railway track, intentional road accident, self killing by drowning, over dose of sleeping pills, ingestion of toxic materials such as poisons, insecticides, acids, alkalis etc. The reasons of suicide can be varied from individual to individual. In maximum cases, suicide is a hallmark of psychological imbalance and the outcome is pertaining as situation escaping way. The rule of nature is to fight against the negative situation and do not withdraw by killing oneself. Very minimal incidence can be justified on the humanity ground, but ethically it is always controversial.

Discuss the six potential examples of suicide the textbook offer us at the beginning of chapter 6 and explain whether each example is suicide and why?

In example 1, a woman jumped from a city skyscraper due to anguish from attainment of life. This is definitely committing of suicide. She was not trying to find out the reasons of her dissatisfaction and fighting out the problems. Ending of life is never a solution. Her wishes and achievements may not have fulfilled in the way she thought but may be other ways are there to get satisfaction in her life. Living a life to its fullest, facing the challenges of life and try to sort out the problems are the rules of nature. She was not following the nature’s law and her process of self killing is totally intentional. No forceful events reinforce her to commit termination of life. In example 2, an elderly man got bored from life due to unemployment and lack of recreations and he finally ended up, ingesting over dose of sleeping pills and committing suicide. With aging, life is encounters different nature of problems and the living style should be adjusted with the situations. If the thought of going to office is an employment then that is following a wrong thought process. According to age and situation, somebody should involve in an job which can provide him immense satisfaction rather than satisfying others, such as gardening, household work etc. and by this he may feel good to accomplish the responsibilities. If friend circle is not accommodating someone in their group due to mismatch of mental wave length then you must start to find out new group and for that you should interact with others and be open minded. Life is full of recreation and employment but you have to search it. The example is a suicide case, where he is escaping from the challenges of aging and not pursuing the nature’s rules. His case is totally voluntary and no forcible occurrences found. In example 3, a solider hangs himself due to intolerable punishments pursue by enemies in his imprisonment and he does not want to reveal secrets, in act to protect his nation. This case cannot be considered as a suicide because he did not want to kill himself, but the circumstance reinforcing him to sacrifice his life. His termination of life can be termed as sacrifice with an aim to protect the nation’s interest. In example 4, a truck driver knowingly diverted his direction of the vehicle for saving school bus and the final outcome was losing of his life. An end of a life had given life to several children. As per humanity it is also a great sacrifice and he did not disobeyed God’s inclination. The situation emphasizes to conduct the event and self aspiration is not acted to terminate his life. In example 5, Captain Oates committed self killing as he was unable to continue his duty due to illness and do not want to be a burden for his team mates as they all were struggled to survive against blizzard. This case gives a mixed situation where victim loses his self determination to fight against the contradictory situation due to his illness and also he did not want to create fuss for his teammates. This case can be considered as suicide, because the whole situation is uncertain. It was not confirmed anywhere that the sacrificing of his life could save lives of other teammates. Sometime presence of an experienced person may physically not be helpful, but his presence of mind and level of experience can help others to bring out ways to solve problems. In this example, Captain Oates tried to run away from the problem by sacrificing his life, in other hand, his condition may become worsen and create a problem in others life. In example 6, a Jehovah's Witness sacrifices his life in regards towards the religion by refusing to take blood transfusion which could have saved his life. This is a suicidal case, as the disease is curable, but due to refusing the treatment course he ended his life. Our life is gifted by God and he never wants us to take this only because of saving a religion. No one has the right to change the nature’s rules or challenge God’s power. Religion is made by human and neither God, nor nature wants to kill human life for saving a religion. This termination of life is an example of blind faith. 

Is suicide ever an ethical decision and can it be a rational decision?

According to Immanuel Kant, “Suicide is not permitted under any condition”. According to him, suicide is the purposeful self destruction of life. Suicide is a disgraceful act as it reduces the dignity of human life and he recommended it as an immoral practice. Even on religious ground, suicide is a convicted act. Suicidal activity has different aspects which include blamable, legitimate and fearless facet. Kant did not support all these aspects. For example, due to some physical reason somebody has to amputate his foot, but the suicidal commitment is not acceptable, as his escape from his duty towards life though it creates trouble in his life. The last decision always depends on the suffered person. For defending suicide another approach is legitimate decision which can be explained by this example, society accepted suicide of a lady after forceful rape, but even this too cannot be acknowledged due to life got ended because of shame and fear of facing society. The principle of life tells us, not to be afraid of adverse situation. It is not a suicide case but it can be considered as sacrificing of life. Solders fight in the battle field and some runaway from their duty as they want to save their life. This is the example of cowardice act. But if a solider dies fighting to defend him and other comrades, then it is an example of heroic activity. Fault or intention is one of the reasons behind any offensive activity. Some suicidal cases considered as a fate of oneself and blame himself for his death. All these examples are explained by the defenders of suicides as human freedom of limit. But Kant’s views revealed that commitment of suicide means violation of duties. Human is not a thing or resemble to other animals. Humanity is the potential approach of life. Commitment of suicide considered as disrespect towards humanity. For leading a life, honour is very important, if honour is not maintain then self killing can be considers as sacrificing and can morally be acceptable. Leading a life or not is a right of individual and who is not respecting life then it cannot be consider as a misfortune. The willingness of leading life can give oneself the reinforcement of leading a life and no disagreeable circumstances can influence to commit suicide. According to the religious point of view, Kant explained that our life is given by God and our duty is to perform all the activities according to the need of surviving and pass our life systematically. “He is our proprietor, and we are His property and His providence ensure what is best for us.” We should not violate the nature’s law or act against the God by terminating life due to self wish. Nobody tasted ultimate happiness, so “Suicide, however, is impermissible and abhorrent, not because God has forbidden it; God has forbidden it, rather, because it is abhorrent.” R. B. Brandt analyzes a different class of arguments which classified as theological arguments, arguments from natural law, and arguments to the effect that suicide necessarily harms other persons or society in general. His approach towards suicide is based on situational consideration. Depending upon the situation, self killing can be a morally acceptable event and in some cases it is even considered as rational, although he is careful to warn of potential errors in judgment. The different situational events are analyzed in this context, for example, aeroplane can be landed in a heavy crowded area and may cause death to several citizens, but single sitter pilot decides to fly the aeroplane and causing self death. Another example is of a terminally ill patient who is becoming an economical burden for his family, decide not to treat his ill health further and choose to kill him. According to Brandt, both these intentional termination of life is morally acceptable. He also justified some suicidal case as rational. His point of view is such that the suicide is the result of mental depression, one who does not has any more chance of developing hope of improvement of their condition. To explain this, he considers the situation of terminally ill patient, who has not to improve his health condition and totally depressed about life. Other than this situation when a person becomes totally hopeless for his future aspects like poverty, loss of sexual abilities, facial appearance become horrible due to some accident, etc. Intentional self killing is the result of emotional imbalance which creates psychological ill health and promotes depression. These situations can be rational for suicide, but possibility of developing error in decision making is always there. 

 

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