Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Suicidal Ideation


Is suicide a legitimate way to go?

Nietzsche himself in a sermon entitled "On Voluntary Death" in Thus Spoke Zarathustra urged his followers to "die at the right time". In Human All Too Human, part two, he mused that death by suicide was, in a sense, a rational death compared to the slow decomposing and loss of faculty that comes with old age, a phenomenon he called irrational death. 

"Ashes to ashes and dust to dust."
The ancient Romans, typically within elite circles, regarded suicide as a noble act if it was to avoid subjugation or the possibility of enslavement, e.g. Cato, who committed suicide after the victory of Caesar's troops.

We too, as humans, are nature, and everything we choose to do can be legitimately considered a part of human nature, whatever that may be; Hannah Arendt was sceptical as to the concept of "human nature" but looking at the survival habits of animals and plants even, I don't see why such an objective glance could not be brought to bear on human beings.


I attempted suicide at the age of 23 but came to regret it almost the moment I had done the act and fortunately survived the attempt to tell the story now, six years later. A successful suicide attempt is final and there is no telling the story in that case, as you have terminated your being for all time - as Heidegger notes, there is no way for a suicide to step out of his killing himself to observe it, as it were, from the outside and report it. Self-termination is the ultimate act preventing all future acts or statements of any kind.


Now I do not wish to preach in favour of suicide and perhaps it is true that suicide is not an option in theory - although everyone knows that it is an option in practice since suicide is not a rare thing and even less so should one take into account attempted suicides. 


I for one could not inflict the trauma on my loved ones - being fortunate enough to have loved ones - and, having suffered from trauma myself, there are few, if any, things worse. Yet I do have suicidal ideations now and again and much as I can see the harm this may cause it also causes no small amount of relief as well, esp. when I feel doomed and trapped by circumstance and emotional disturbance. 


Suicide will always remain a controversial point; as I asked before, is there such a thing as legitimate or, the converse, illegitimate suicide? 


Perhaps the act is what it is, the final statement of an individual and the value judgements that follow from it are merely that: judgements. Death by suicide is a fait accompli just as much as the birth of a new born child. Birth and death as such are the ultimate non-negotiables of life whatever may happen in between. As Tom Eliot put it,

"In my beginning is my end."