Suicide prevention: the good and the bad.

Brain in the Jar discusses the three types of suicide prevention: the cruel, the immoral, and the good.

1. Suicide Prevention by Force

This is the cruelest of all types. It shares similarities with rape and murder. ‘By force’ means in a prettier language, ‘rescuing someone from suicide’. Suicide prevention by force is holding back a person from jumping, taking away the gun when they aim it, stopping a suffocation process. When the person is already in the process of dying, intervening is cruel. Surviving an attempt is a traumatic experience. The person will have to live on with the memories of it. Surviving some methods will lead to permanent damage (Especially in suffocation methods). Not only that, but preparing the method and doing it is a lot of hard work. By stopping it, you throw all that work in the trash.

Most importantly, this type of prevention doesn’t address the underlying causes of suicide. It’s not about helping the person with what drives them to die. It’s merely about keeping them alive. If you ever used force in order to stop a suicide, you’re a horrible person.

5 thoughts on “Suicide prevention: the good and the bad.

  1. Wieslavn September 20, 2016 at 20:54 Reply


    If you have a few moments I would appreciate your thoughts on these questions.

    Do you believe it is morally permissible for an unmarried person in their 40’s (who has no children to care for) and who has battled depression for many years to commit suicide?
    What is your opinion of Liberalism which asserts that a person’s life belongs only to them, and no other person has the right to force their own ideals that life must be lived?


    • Francois Tremblay September 20, 2016 at 21:04 Reply

      “Do you believe it is morally permissible for an unmarried person in their 40’s (who has no children to care for) and who has battled depression for many years to commit suicide?”

      Is it morally permissible? Absolutely.

      “What is your opinion of Liberalism which asserts that a person’s life belongs only to them,”

      I don’t know what “your life belong to you” means, apart from being a statement of freedom. As I’ve detailed on this blog many times, self-ownership is a useless and contradictory concept. If you’re just saying that people should be free, then I agree, although it all depends on how we define freedom.

      “and no other person has the right to force their own ideals that life must be lived?

      I agree on that! Whether a person’s life must be lived or not can only be that person’s decision, because no one else can take a rational decision about it, due mainly to lack of information.

      I don’t see how this particular point has much to do with liberalism as I understand it, though. Liberals are just as much pro-life as anyone else.

  2. genny September 20, 2016 at 21:38 Reply


    There is something right in liberalism of this kind, namely that nobody has a right to enforce conformity to a moral code that is seriously and sincerely rejected by the person on whom he wishes to force it…. But there is something wrong too: for moral codes only make sense as UNIVERSAL prescriptions, and nobody can hold serious moral beliefs without at least trying to get others to conform to them and working towards systems of law and custom that will make them into the norm.

  3. Wieslavn September 22, 2016 at 07:28 Reply

    Thanks Francois.

    Would you consider doing a separate blogpost on the following topic?

    “We suffer from a hallucination, from a false and distorted sensation of our own existence as living organisms,” Alan Watts wrote in contemplating how our ego keeps us separate from the universe. “It is almost banal to say so,” Henry Miller observed, “yet it needs to be stressed continually: all is creation, all is change, all is flux, all is metamorphosis.” But banal as it may be, it is also intolerably discomfiting to accept, which is why we retreat into our hallucination — we resist change, we long for immortality, and we cling to the notion of the self, despite its ever-changing essence, as anxious assurance of our own permanence in an impermanent universe.

    Alan Lightman, a cosmic poet of the ages — begins with the bittersweet beauty of a deeply human rite of passage: As he walked his eldest daughter down the aisle, “radiant in her white dress, a white dahlia in her hair,” she asked to hold his hand and something else, something heavy yet inescapable, gripped Lightman’s heart. He writes:

    “It was a perfect picture of utter joy, and utter tragedy. Because I wanted my daughter back as she was at age ten, or twenty. As we moved together toward that lovely arch that would swallow us all, other scenes flashed through my mind: my daughter in first grade holding a starfish as big as herself, her smile missing a tooth; my daughter on the back of my bicycle as we rode to a river to drop stones in the water; my daughter telling me the day after she had her first period. Now she was thirty. I could see lines in her face”

    Aware of both the absurdity and the humanity of his feelings in that moment, Lightman considers the root of that wistfully familiar existential unease:

    “I don’t know why we long so for permanence, why the fleeting nature of things so disturbs. With futility, we cling to the old wallet long after it has fallen apart. We visit and revisit the old neighborhood where we grew up, searching for the remembered grove of trees and the little fence. We clutch our old photographs. In our churches and synagogues and mosques, we pray to the everlasting and eternal. Yet, in every nook and cranny, nature screams at the top of her lungs that nothing lasts, that it is all passing away. All that we see around us, including our own bodies, is shifting and evaporating and one day will be gone. Where are the one billion people who lived and breathed in the year 1800, only two short centuries ago?”

    Nature, he argues, is unambiguous in her message — from the mayflies that “drop by the billions within twenty-four hours of birth” to the glaciers that “slowly but surely grind down the land” to our own flesh, just as slowly and surely sagging into agedness, order, with all its comforting familiarity, steadily descends into chaos. It is, after all, one of the laws of the universe:

    Physicists call it the second law of thermodynamics. It is also called the arrow of time. Oblivious to our human yearnings for permanence, the universe is relentlessly wearing down, falling apart, driving itself toward a condition of maximum disorder. It is a question of probabilities. You start from a situation of improbable order, like a deck of cards all arranged according to number and suit, or like a solar system with several planets orbiting nicely about a central star. Then you drop the deck of cards on the floor over and over again… Order has yielded to disorder. Repeated patterns to change. In the end, you cannot defeat the odds. You might beat the house for a while, but the universe has an infinite supply of time and can outlast any player.

    Lightman offers an example elemental to our embodied existence — our skeletal muscles:

    With age, muscles slacken and grow loose, lose mass and strength, can barely support our weight as we toddle across the room. And why must we suffer such indignities? Because our muscles, like all living tissue, must be repaired from time to time due to normal wear and tear. These repairs are made by the mechano growth factor hormone, which in turn is regulated by the IGF1 gene. When that gene inevitably loses some tines … Muscle to flab. Vigor to decrepitude. Dust to dust.

    And yet something about the human experience — the human condition, with its implied pathology of consciousness — causes us to tense against this natural progression with anguishing anxiety rather than resting into it with calm acceptance.

    • Francois Tremblay September 22, 2016 at 14:59 Reply

      This is all great, but what exactly can I contribute to it?

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