Suicide as self-expression.

I believe the issue of the right to suicide is one that Anarchists should pay closer attention to. Indeed, it is clear, I hope, that the right to euthanasia is fairly basic and uncontestable, but I would also argue that suicide as a whole is something that should be protected, and that we should speak in favor of.

Suicide is seen with great suspicion and repulsion in our statist society. Why is that? I believe it is seen with repulsion for the same reason that Anarchy or atheism are seen with repulsion: because they represent a negation of a certain part of society, of the collectivist impulse.What they tell to the believer is this: “all that indoctrination you had to buy into, all that doubt-suppression you did, all that suppression of your own values that you did, I reject those processes, and find them useless.”

After all, religion and the State constantly tell us that suicide is a sin and that suicide is a disease, and this is understandable, as belief systems could hardly survive if their believers killed themselves, and the State needs as many bodies as possible. So a person who wants to kill himself is denying the validity of all that indoctrination. I imagine this is hard for a lot of people to take. Also, insofar as religion goes, believers tend to be more anxious about death, and this pushes them to obsess over the notion of the afterlife (consider that in the Bible very little is said about Heaven or Hell, but this has not stopped Christians from making up all sorts of myths and stories about it).

But I think we should consider suicide as a form of self-expression, and vital for a free society. Do you doubt that suicide is a form of self-expression? But you will not deny that it is possible. The famous example of Thich Quang Duc (who protested the persecution of Buddhists in Vietnam by self-immolation in 1963) demonstrates that suicide can definitely be a form of self-expression, at least in some cases.

But what about more ordinary cases of suicide? Excluding euthanasia, of course, we have the stereotype of the lonely teenager driven to suicide by emo-like depression or losing his girlfriend. But is not suicide the desire to have the ultimate control over one’s life: control over its end? To do this seems to be no less self-expression than other choices about one’s life (such as what we wear or where we go).

If we look at the statistics, suicide levels are lowest in the Middle East and African countries, societies where self-expression is most repressed. This makes perfect sense, although one could of course draw different conclusions from this fact.

3 thoughts on “Suicide as self-expression.

  1. kentmcmanigal July 5, 2008 at 21:45

    The state believes it owns you, so suicide is “stealing the state’s property”.

  2. James February 17, 2009 at 19:36

    You forget to take into account that 90% of suicides and attempted suicides are from people who have a mental illness like schizophrenia or (most common) severe chronic depression. Suicide is an impulse brought forth from the disease, and as such should be restrained.

    As somebody who has dealt with chronic depression for over twelve years including suicidal impulses, I know that the act is not one of self-expression. It’s a romantic notion, but a false one.

    What’s more religion does not consider suicide to be a sin anymore. The Catholics – and let’s admit it, they’ve been the most gunhoe about sending folks to hell – have acknowledged suicide to be a symptom of mental illness and is therefor not the responsibility of the person who commited it.

    I agree with a lot of the comments mentioned in your post, but I believe the state is more unhappy with people who are mentally depressed and therefor reluctant to feed the economy with over spending.

  3. Werner January 27, 2010 at 18:16

    There is a line of thought among evolutionary biologists that depression is a reaction to mistakes that people have made in their lives. If those mistakes can be rectified then the depression lifts. People depressed over economic problems would be “cured” in a minute if they won a lottery,etc.. There have been many suicides in the US because of student loan debts. There is no disease here or “chemical imbalance” just worry and misery. People who have ruined their lives because of bad choices,bad luck or a realization that their life is based on bullshit perhaps may find NO solution is available. For them suicide may be the only way out.

    Werner Scott

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