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My Right to Die

by Hance_Soelow


One thing I’ve learned in my life is that nothing can be generalized. Everything has their own unique application to our lives. Hence, I call this post “My” right to die.

My thoughts on death and suicide have been a blend of careful religious historical philosophical (even theoretical physics) study, and my own emotions. I would like to open up the idea of the first ingredient of my blend for our community’s discussion and for the reader’s additional insight.

Suicide as a right can be seen throughout our history. Various ancient cultures have seen suicide as an honorable way to die. The ancient Mayans for one even had a goddess for suicide named Ixtab. Ixtab would make sure suicide victims would enjoy paradise in the after life. Another example are the ancient Japanese samurai. They viewed suicide as a means to restore honor preceded by a shameful act.

In a semi-religious and semi-historical perspective, some Buddhist monks before would find enlightenment by long meditations followed by self-strangulation. Their mummified corpses I think can still be seen in some parts of the Himalayan mountains. This “suicide” wouldn’t be against Buddhist teachings as this religion teaches that life is suffering and that attachments, like attachment to life, further cause suffering.

In Jainism and Hinduism, some practitioners are culturally allowed to commit suicide by fasting if they believe that all their worldly obligations have been met.

Philosophers like Albert Camus have also mentioned suicide as the primary question of philosophy, aka the study for the “meaning of life”. Verbatim, Camus says, “There is only one really serious philosophical problem… and that is suicide. Deciding whether or not life is worth living is to answer the fundamental question in philosophy. All other questions follow from that.”

Somehow, we have come to our present culture that now generally frowns upon suicide even though it has been part of history, study, and other religions. People generally see suicidal people as victims of their emotions rather than rational beings. Just because my life and death can be influenced deeply by my emotions doesn’t mean that I have abandoned all rational thoughts on the matter. On the contrary, I have explored and still continue to discover the logic in my right to live and my right to die.

And if I go by any single logic that I have mentioned above, then definitely, I have the right to die. What more if I take all of the above as one homogeneous reason? Then captain, its a dazzling display of logic.



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mysteriousvisitor 12/9/2015 - 7:28 pm

Oh the irony of saying “Live long and prosper” here.

Yes, even when societies mostly looked down on suicide they would often have exceptions, such as martyrdom or the sacrifice of oneself to avoid dishonor. Although, I think the idea of the historical acceptance of suicide (and in some cases the present-day acceptance) is overly romanticized.

In Western society the desire to commit suicide is widely viewed as a symptom of “mental illness”. This creates a catch-22 in which a person who expresses the desire to die is automatically deemed incompetent, thereby providing justification for denying them the fufillment of that desire. So one must pretend to not want what they actually want in order to get it. Forcing people to hide these feelings is extremely counterproductive, even harmful, but labeling people as mentally ill based on behaviors or thoughts that do not meet societal expectations is a common tool of oppression. It also does a diservice to those who really are suffering and genuinely desire help. I maintain that the ability to rationally choose suicide exists and that there is no *medical* evidence to the contrary.

A while back I read where somebody commented that we don’t need the government passing laws affirming the right to make life and death choices, but rather we need the government to just completely stay out of it. I understand this person’s point of view, as I do not feel I should have to obtain the government’s permission to make choices concerning my own life. I would also be concerned that the government would start proactively seeking the death of individuals who are labeled “defective” – this has certainly happened with other governments in the past, and our government currently takes away civil rights and other privileges based on such arbitrary labels.

mysteriousvisitor 12/9/2015 - 7:59 pm

I meant to say “those who really are suffering with an endogenous condition…” I am in no way implying that one’s suffering must be biologically based in order to be genuine, but simply correcting my sentence.

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