*Yes, you read that right. No, I am not calling people who commit suicide cowards. I am not saying that they are not sick in some very serious way. I am not even saying that they have full culpability for their actions. But I am saying that the actual act of committing suicide is cowardly. Hopefully you survive and recognize it as a moment of weakness, but if you attempted suicide you attempted to do a cowardly thing.
This post actually stemmed from discussion on a baseball blog, of all things. Now remember, I help run an anti-teenage suicide, depression, and self-harm charity. I’ve actually gone up in front of a class in college and given a speech about it. I know people personally, very personally, who were cutting themselves, or extremely depressed, or who hit practically all of the suicide warning signs. It’s scary to see. And I am telling you, as a person who has seen all of this, who is or was close personal friends with people like that, that suicide is a cowardly thing to do.
From the discussion, one guy wrote this:
Reading some of the completely uninformed comments above, I feel compelled to say something from the perspective of a physician. Suicide has no more relationship to rational choice than does a heart attack or a stroke. Cowardice is a meaningless term in this context. Like heart attacks and strokes, suicide is a catastrophic symptom of an underlying disease, in most circumstances. There are obviously situations, e.g., end stage cancer in a suffering and alone person, where it may be a rational decision, but there are many health care professionals who would legitimately argue that that alternative is a failure of our health care and social systems. Let’s just celebrate a very exciting victory. We can enjoy analyzing what it means and how it happened. Hopefully what we all can learn from the life of Tony Gwynn is good sportsmanship, which includes compassion for those we defeat.
Here was my response:
This is true sometimes, but I know people who have been close to suicidal, and a lot of the time this is a crock of shit. They plan things quite carefully in advance. They write notes, they look up the best methods, and they plan for how things might go after their death. They know exactly what they’re doing.
More than that, they need to actually take a positive action in order to accomplish a pre-planned goal. Saying that suicide is like a heart attack is basically just denying free will completely.
Anybody with any sort of experience feel free to chime in.
*In the context of this discussion I am separating this type of suicide, the I-was-depressed-and-slit-my-wrists sort of suicide, from euthanasia. It is of course also wrong, but for different reasons.