See You On the Other Side: Suicide and Followers of Afterlife Religions

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    Dec 04, 2012 11:26 PM GMT
    ((WARNING: Apologies in advance, this is poorly thought out as I'm typing on the fly.))

    (TL;DR version: is the religious sense of afterlife hampering the ability to get people to consider alternatives to suicide? And would eliminating that sense in people's minds cut down on the murder-suicides?)

    The alleged murder by, and suicide of, Jovan Belcher over the weekend brought a couple questions up for me.

    K.C. StarChiefs Head Coach Romeo Crennel and linebackers coach Gary Gibbs arrived in the parking lot and Belcher reportedly announced, “Guys, I have to do this.”

    Crennel tried to dissuade him.

    “I was trying to get him to understand that life is not over,” Crennel told The Star. “He still has a chance and let’s get this worked out.’’

    As Pioli and Crennel tried to reason with Belcher, the men heard police sirens closing in. Belcher then walked a few steps away with the gun still pointed at his head.

    “I got to go,” Belcher reportedly said. “I can’t be here.”

    Belcher knelt behind a vehicle and made the sign of the cross across his chest before firing a single bullet into his head.


    http://www.kansascity.com/2012/12/04/3946159/belcher-shot-himself-as-kc-police.html

    The tragic story being just one of many sad situations, my specific issue here is the thought that particularly after committing a heinous act (whether it's people like Belcher or some fool trying to blow himself up on a plane), people far-too-often utter statements or make motions suggesting they intend to be ushered into some sort of afterlife state once they've decided to violently off themselves, a condition deemed much more appealing in their own minds than whatever they're experiencing while alive.

    In guys like Belcher's case, they hope for a merciful deity to grant some kind of spiritual clemency in order to attain this more-pleasant afterlife state. Maybe they'll get to join their victim(s) and offer restitution, amidst some warped sense of Shangri-La. Either that, or their guilt has them pining for an "eternal hellfire of damnation" that Cell Block C simply can't approximate.

    In the case of the suicide bombers, the expectation is often some kind of spiritual reward. I think it was either George Carlin or Robin Williams who joked about that (a reward of bountiful "virgins" that winds up being "Welcome! Here's your olives").

    How much suicide would be curtailed but for this certain mindset of afterlife? (Finally, I got to a question, hooray!) And how much violence preceding these types of deaths would be foregone in turn?

    Second, I wonder whether there's research about suicide rates among self-avowed theists and non-theists. I do find it troubling that people can intentionally commit lethal acts that go against the tenets of their own religions and still expect the deities of their religion to offer some kind of a spiritual escape parachute.

    Finally, I wonder who would be the most effective messenger, for religious people considering suicide, for an "It Can Only Get Better Here" type of message. I wouldn't expect most religious institutions to share that, as the afterlife concept is how they keep people engaged in the first place. The mental health community, perhaps? Church-state separation seems make the offering of such guidance from public representatives a no-no. For suicidal people who have leaned on religion all their lives to justify their daily existence, would offering such guidance risk sending too many over the proverbial edge?

    Like many, Jovan Belcher tried to deal through much of his young adult life with relationship and fidelity issues, as a new parent with financial issues, and maybe much more below the surface. If Jovan could have grasped the likelihood that "there's no there there" to go to, does it improve the likelihood that he owns up to his horrific action, if not compel him to seek alternatives to that horrific action in the first place?

    If you got to the end of this rambling, I owe you a cookie!
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    Dec 04, 2012 11:44 PM GMT
    A contrary view that helps me on out that question of research literature, from Zuckerman ("Atheism, Secularity, and Well-Being," Sociology Compass, 2009). However, I suspect an update in research sources should be in order.

    http://www.pitzer.edu/academics/faculty/zuckerman/Zuckerman_on_Atheism.pdf

    Phil Zuckerman ("Atheism, Secularity, and Well-Being")As for suicide, however, regular church-attending Americans clearly have lower rates than non-attenders (Comstock and Partridge 1972; Stack and Wasserman 1992; Martin 1984), although this correlation has actually not been found in other nations (Stack 1991). Of the current top-ten nations with the highest rates of suicide, most are relatively secular (World Health Organization, 2003). But it is worth noting that eight of these top-ten are post-Soviet countries, suggesting that decades of totalitarianism, depressed economies, and a lack of basic human freedoms may be more significant in explaining the high rates of suicide than low levels of God-belief.


    http://www.atheistnexus.org/group/ffrf/forum/topics/touchy-subject-atheists-and-suicide?xg_source=activity

    This forum topic notes the "God-as-coping mechanism" may give theists an advantage in the sense of identifying reasons NOT to commit suicide. My concern are those theists who see "God-as-bailout-provider" when deciding whether to take their own lives, if not others with them.
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    Dec 05, 2012 12:47 AM GMT
    it is the choice he made, but there is no heaven or hell, the man is just going to be reborn again, brand new, but the thought of what he did will remain in the subconscious mind, the subconscious always retains all information of a persons ever reincarnation, and no humans do not become animals lol
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    Dec 05, 2012 12:49 AM GMT
    Suicide would be much less common if it weren't for religion.
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    Dec 05, 2012 2:50 AM GMT
    I've put a great deal of thought into suicide and have lots of experience with it, but I've not much considered murder/suicide, that not being my particular fetish.

    On perusing your materials quickly here--I'd prefer an icey if you don't mind--sorry, I'll give it more consideration later, my first thought is--well, besides the funny one of how'd they get all that information, a post mortem interview?--is that religion could play either way. Being damned might keep you from it (unless that's your fetish, of course) while some reward might be seen as encouraging so maybe that's a wash? I don't know, I'd have to see the results of a longitudinal study to see how that might play out in their minds.

    My intuitive sense on first considering this is that a murder/suicide would be either the product of some sort of personality disorder or certainly an unenlightenment (who else would premeditate murder?) whether or not that's religiously "justified" or more likely a matter of passion (wife cheats, husband shoots family and self) or compassion (elderly man kills demented wife and self). So for passion or compassion, I reallly don't think religion plays much of a part. That's a matter of the heart and the inner spirit or the passions in the case of rage and I don't believe religion has control over that.

    And even in the case of say a religious suicide bomber, I think religion is just an excuse there. It could have been politics or twinkies. So I would put that back into the personality disorders/unenlightenment catagory. And what does religion have to do with that? A convenient excuse? I don't know if I buy it, but again, I haven't studied the subject to have given it much thought.
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    Dec 05, 2012 2:57 AM GMT
    iseewhatyoudidthere06-icee.jpg

    Thanks for your thoughtful input!
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    Dec 05, 2012 3:07 AM GMT
    theantijock saidI've put a great deal of thought into suicide and have lots of experience with it, but I've not much considered murder/suicide, that not being my particular fetish.

    On perusing your materials quickly here--I'd prefer an icey if you don't mind--sorry, I'll give it more consideration later, my first thought is--well, besides the funny one of how'd they get all that information, a post mortem interview?--is that religion could play either way. Being damned might keep you from it (unless that's your fetish, of course) while some reward might be seen as encouraging so maybe that's a wash? I don't know, I'd have to see the results of a longitudinal study to see how that might play out in their minds.

    My intuitive sense on first considering this is that a murder/suicide would be either the product of some sort of personality disorder or certainly an unenlightenment (who else would premeditate murder?) whether or not that's religiously "justified" or more likely a matter of passion (wife cheats, husband shoots family and self) or compassion (elderly man kills demented wife and self). So for passion or compassion, I reallly don't think religion plays much of a part. That's a matter of the heart and the inner spirit or the passions in the case of rage and I don't believe religion has control over that.

    And even in the case of say a religious suicide bomber, I think religion is just an excuse there. It could have been politics or twinkies. So I would put that back into the personality disorders/unenlightenment catagory. And what does religion have to do with that? A convenient excuse? I don't know if I buy it, but again, I haven't studied the subject to have given it much thought.


    I think you have some good points, resulting in an angle I hadn't thought of by the murder-suicide crew: "Faith-as-Kabuki-Theatre" People who don't really believe in afterlife, but want to impress upon you, for whatever reasons, that they do.
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    Dec 05, 2012 4:43 AM GMT
    dayumm saidI think you have some good points, resulting in an angle I hadn't thought of by the murder-suicide crew: "Faith-as-Kabuki-Theatre" People who don't really believe in afterlife, but want to impress upon you, for whatever reasons, that they do.


    That's very funny.

    But don't forget, in regard to suicide bombers, the ones who most likely believe (as if I believe all that as being "spiritually" motivated and not just more political/control-freak nonsense) in some after hours reward party aren't the guys with the strap ons; they're the ones who are convincing the other guy to strap one on.

    And the poor sucker willing to kill himself "for the cause", who knows what his problems are that he would be so swayed. If it was easy to sway healthy minded people, wouldn't there be more of'm? We'd be kamikaze-dropping ourselves off tall buildings just to upset the day of someone we don't like. Seems more likely they do it for their families that are being threatened with horrors or rewards in this life if they don't comply rather than convincing themselves of some other world reward. What does it take to convince a guy to strap on a bomb? God? It's hard to believe there aren't other issues involved.

    With regard to suicide variety sans murder, where you say...

    "If Jovan could have grasped the likelihood that "there's no there there" to go to, does it improve the likelihood that he owns up to his horrific action, if not compel him to seek alternatives to that horrific action in the first place?"

    ...you need to consider that a person could rather not exist at all than live as is. As long as I don't have to be here here, there's no there there? That's wonderful, bring it. And you can even get "spiritual" about that in a hopping off the wheel of Samsara sort of way. Life after life after life of experience. When do old souls get to die?

    Oh, and thank you for the icee. I'm so glad you didn't get me a blue one.