Why do people say suicide is selfish?

  • BloodFlame

    Posts: 1768

    May 15, 2015 6:58 AM GMT
    I hear people say this all the time but honestly, is it really? I'll bite and say I'm guilty of feeling this way every now and then but I try to rise above it.

    But it annoys me when people say that when someone commits suicide, they are selfish. Why is that? If the person's life is so messed up and they had nothing to lose and want to escape, then why is it selfish to go through with it?

    Some people will say because it hurts those around them but does it really? People move on anyway and even forget about them but it's especially eyebrow raising if the suicidal person has no family or friends.

    I just don't understand why people say this. I'm betting they say it just to be PC or something.

    Yeah, I know it's a rather depressing thread but I'm genuinely curious on why this is.
  • metta

    Posts: 39126

    May 15, 2015 7:03 AM GMT
    I'm sure that you already know the answer....but here it is....the people that are suffering are the people left behind. That is what is selfish about it.

    Besides that, suicide is normally a permanent answer to a temporary problem.


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    Selfish : having or showing concern only for yourself and not for the needs or feelings of other people


    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/selfish

    So it is not always the case...but often is a selfish act (by definition). Just because someone commits a selfish act does not mean that you can't have empathy for them. I'm not suggesting that it is a good idea to tell a person thinking about suicide that they are being selfish. It would be better to just listen to them and see if you can get help for them.
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    May 15, 2015 7:37 AM GMT
    I don't much care for the "selfish" label myself, but from a very narrow perspective (which describes *most* modern perspectives from my own ...admittedly narrow... point of view) if it is an act taken out of self-interest (escape, for example) instead of for others it is by definition "selfish".

    But the fact that is such an unsatisfactory answer is the main reason I so dislike the term.

    Personally, I think the people who see and feel the world most deeply and truthfully may be the ones who have most reason to give up hope but they are also the ones whom we *need* most desperately. Those shallow enough to be OK with the awful ways people can treat each other, or too callous to recognize their own pain when they some day see it mirrored in someone else, will never acknowledge, let alone solve, the underlying problems. The strength, insight, and resolve that can be found in one's darkest hour can either enrich one's community in subtle but powerful ways for a lifetime or even generations to come, or be snuffed out in its very nascence.

    So in some ways I feel more like it's selfish for the rest of us to expect greater strength than most of us ever had to muster from those who have it worse than we ever did, but that the ongoing cost of each such loss is ultimately greater than any one person's suffering (though I will spare you the b***s*** Star Trek quote). We have no choice but to do everything we can to keep them with us, as the alternative is too costly.

    I'm probably not making a very good point, but I'll try to give an example. My professional mentor took that option about 10 years ago now. Setting aside the fact that his problems were probably objectively temporary (health and work and girlfriend and money and loneliness and other external burdens), and ignoring what his friends, family, and coworkers went through in cleaning up what was suddenly left of his life, I *more* and *more* often over the years come to situations that he would have understood, problems that he could have solved, and which I know how to solve only because he taught me, and yet I am held up by the fact that I have nobody else who sees the problem through his eyes. It's like a tiny corner of the collective human consciousness went suddenly dark, and the tiny part of it that I hope to keep alive seems to dwindle with every passing year; even if I wanted to, I just can't replace him.

    I wouldn't dare be so crass as to dismiss his actions as "selfish", but I remain convinced that the cost was far greater than he imagined. We, and those who have yet to grace the earth, would be much better off had he made it through his dark time, and I believe that this is generally true of those who (except in limited medical scenarios where only the manner, and not the timing, of death can be changed) choose that answer.
  • BloodFlame

    Posts: 1768

    May 15, 2015 7:55 AM GMT
    I always hear that the suicidal person is selfish because of the financial burden they'll leave on their family (if they have any) which in my opinion comes to the root of it. If I were to ever commit suicide, I wouldn't want to have money spent on me. Just throw my body in the river or something. I wouldn't need some big, celebratory send-off. But er, that's just how I feel.

    I'm just saying, isn't it more selfish of the people around to expect the suicidal to keep living in pain and anguish? That seems more selfish than the other.
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    May 15, 2015 8:19 AM GMT
    BloodFlame saidI always hear that the suicidal person is selfish because of the financial burden they'll leave on their family (if they have any) which in my opinion comes to the root of it. If I were to ever commit suicide, I wouldn't want to have money spent on me. Just throw my body in the river or something. I wouldn't need some big, celebratory send-off. But er, that's just how I feel.

    I'm just saying, isn't it more selfish of the people around to expect the suicidal to keep living in pain and anguish? That seems more selfish than the other.


    As to the former, when I experienced these impulses (not that my problems really amounted to much compared to most people's) that was how I felt. But when Rocky took his own life I saw how unrealistic that was. Death isn't cheap or convenient no matter how you try to make it so.

    As to the second, I agree in a sense, but if 'we' need 'you' far more than 'you' have decided you need 'us', it is pretty typical (if possibly disingenuous) for 'us' to accouse 'you' of being selfish. It's not the answer I'm supposed to give, but it's the only explanation that fits what I've seen.

    But personally, I still always come back to the following: if you're the sort of person who understands why your question needs to be asked in the first place, then the world *NEEDS* more people like you, and the human race *WOULD* be much poorer for having lost you. "Selfishness" is a very weak vehicle for conveying this, but I've never heard a better. Few people even ask. icon_confused.gif
  • BloodFlame

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    May 15, 2015 8:27 AM GMT
    That's part of the reason why I asked. People don't talk about it but when they do, they don't go into the "why" aspect.
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    May 15, 2015 8:36 AM GMT
    BloodFlame saidThat's part of the reason why I asked. People don't talk about it but when they do, they don't go into the "why" aspect.


    I couldn't agree more. I really hope this changes; I realize why it's a scary subject, but I feel like we would all be better off if we did discuss it more often and more honestly. As it is, I feel like we tend to give the right answer but for *entirely* the wrong reasons.
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    May 15, 2015 4:46 PM GMT
    BloodFlame saidSome people will say because it hurts those around them but does it really? People move on anyway and even forget about them but it's especially eyebrow raising if the suicidal person has no family or friends.


    Having had the fortune to love many but also the corresponding misfortune to lose many, I know death has bearing, not just direction, not just weight, and even of those I don't know.

    I never liked war, be it familiar nor anonymous. I cringe when a kid points a toy gun at one of his friends. Animals dying in movies make me cry though I never knew them never mind that I know it's just a movie. It's death. Death is bigger than life and for all we know, for decision making purposes, longer lasting.

    So if you think people won't be affected, you're wrong. If your concern is what others think, you haven't finished thinking it out yet.

    yetanotherphil said...if you're the sort of person who understands why your question needs to be asked in the first place, then the world *NEEDS* more people like you, and the human race *WOULD* be much poorer for having lost you. "Selfishness" is a very weak vehicle for conveying this, but I've never heard a better.


    Good info yetanotherphil in much of what you said but of that you are transposing the selfishness aspect by appealing to the person's sense of empathy such that if a person feels overwhelmed by their perceptions, be they real or imagined, or if they simply tire or for whatever reason no longer care to engage society or their own life, then should you be able to instill a sense of self-selfishness--this idea that a person should feel bad for withdrawing from the world the gift of their own being, whether any particular person benefits from having that or would be harmed by losing that, this esoteric notion of a butterfly wing potion--relies on guilt nonetheless thereby still stigmatizing suicide as misfortune instead of as option deemed only viable in the case of impending doom of inevitable death by outside forces be they that of disease or, I'll presume, Masada, "a fate worse than death".

    I have what I consider to be the ultimate nonjudgmental reason to be stayin' alive: procrastination. I can always kill myself tomorrow. And I might find someone who I can goof-on today. That's always good for a laugh.

    But also, as curious as I might be about death, I am curious about life. And even though mostly it just seems to turn to shit--I'm not Miss Poly-Anna gonna tell ya things'r gonna get betta. They don't; life sucks; suck it up. Friends betray, loved ones die, the body deteriorates, getting old sucks--I oddly remain fascinated. Not only that, but I've found real curious how my thinking has changed over the decades. Not that my person has changed: I'm still just who I was when I was growing up. Not that my thoughts have changed; I still think in the same direction I did when I was a kid. But how I think has changed, the more reflecting, less projecting that only comes with age if it comes at all for not everyone gets it.

    And now into my 50s, even though I always had excellent skills of recognizing gestalt, there's even more pattern recognition now. It can be tough for some to break through but if you can it's real fun to watch your mind work. Even this late in the game, having many relatives living well into their 90s, I might still have another 40 plus years to go. Holy crap! Help, Jane, stop this crazy thing! So, barring dementia--at which time I hope I've the courage and wherewithal to kill myself--I'm real curious to see how my mind will work in my 90s. Or if telomeres are extended, into my 100's. Now 100 years of living could get old. But maybe would develop a whole new way of seeing. We don't know until we get there.

    If my thinking doesn't continue to improve or if it ever deteriorates, I've instructed my brother to hand me a gun. Until then, likely, I'll be...



  • Destinharbor

    Posts: 4435

    May 15, 2015 5:27 PM GMT
    Because it is almost an act of violence against the people who love you the most. In some ways, they never recover from the sense of guilt and shame. They feel the need to apologize forever. Think about it. The mother of the guy that kills himself has failed to raise her child to be a successful man. The lover that had to move away for a job and now has to carry the burden that his action may have caused such self-hate. He has to tell everyone and especially his next lover. The brother that wasn't paying attention to his brother because he was busy with his own life. On and on. No, it's not just PC. It's true. It becomes a stain on all those who would have been there if they'd known.

    I had one friend commit suicide. An adult man. He and I used to meet at a pool and swim laps. No sexual thing at all between us. But we were friends. I helped him buy a dog. I also knew most of his family well enough that I could drop in on them uninvited. The company I worked for failed and I had to move away to get a new job. I found out two weeks later he'd put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. To this day, I feel I should have been there for him and recognized he was really, really down. But I didn't. I know why he did it and it had nothing to do with me. I was busy. I was distracted. I failed him.

    Now, some who are contemplating suicide might think "Yeah! I want them all to feel bad!" Selfish. Some might think "No one loves me!" Wrong. Those who do will feel guilty. Forever. Some might think "I don't know what else to do!" Try asking for help, not smearing a permanent black mark on the brain of all those who would be happy to help.

    Yes, totally selfish. Except in some medical situations.
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    May 15, 2015 6:10 PM GMT
    Destinharbor saidBecause it is almost an act of violence against the people who love you the most. In some ways, they never recover from the sense of guilt and shame. They feel the need to apologize forever. Think about it. The mother of the guy that kills himself has failed to raise her child to be a successful man. The lover that had to move away for a job and now has to carry the burden that his action may have caused such self-hate. Her has to tell everyone and especially his next lover. The brother that wasn't paying attention to his brother because he was busy with his own life. On and on. No, it's not just PC. It's true. It becomes a stain on all those who would have been there if they'd known.

    I had one friend commit suicide. An adult man. He and I used to meet at a pool and swim laps. No sexual thing at all between us. But we were friends. I helped him buy a dog. I also knew most of his family well enough that I could drop in on them uninvited. The company I worked for failed and I had to move away to get a new job. I found out two weeks later he'd put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. To this day, I feel I should have been there for him and recognized he was really, really down. But I didn't. I know why he did it and it had nothing to do with me. I was busy. I was distracted. I failed him.

    Now, some who are contemplating suicide might think "Yeah! I want them all to feel bad!" Selfish. Some might think "No one loves me!" Wrong. Those who do will feel guilty. Forever. Some might think "I don't know what else to do!" Try asking for help, not smearing a permanent black mark on the brain of all those who be happy to help.

    Yes, totally selfish. Except in some medical situations.


    All we do is selfish. Altruism satisfies the self. Suicide particularly claims the self as ultimate self expression that This Is My Life. Nobody else's. Mine and mine alone. Suicide stamps ownership onto a product with a very short expiration date.

    I think the effects you speak of are very true but I wouldn't confuse selfishness with vindictiveness or with being manipulative. Motivated to affect the feelings of others is not valid reason; rather, that's sociopathic, not a person in their right mind.

    But someone can take ownership of their life with death, just as within life, unintended consequences, frankly, sometimes be damned. Not that you'd want to hurt another person. But you also have your own life to live, only now you might live it with a little unintended guilt that might make you consider different behavior in the future. Maybe next time, you would more value your relationships instead of your career.

    But even that can play out badly either way. I could have gone way further in my career, hell, I might have been able to keep my 2nd guy from dying, but my priority over my career was my established friendships and my priority even over my own happiness was taking care of my mom, which all located me where I was. That had consequences as do all events.

    I did everything right as circumstances, as morals, as values might dictate but wound up with ended career (voluntarily) but then also dead mom, dead partner, and betraying friends.

    All because I had done the right thing. I still wound up fucked. That's life. You make the best of it and move on as best you can. But this shit wears on ya. And I've had a lot more death than this. And I can see myself one day saying, completely rationally, with no ill-intent towards others, in my right mind: that's enough.

    I know people still love me. It is not my decision which brings them pain. It is life. Look, someone's getting the front seat. One of us will die first, putting the other in pain. I didn't purposely put them in pain; all I did was call shotgun.

    With both hands, you claim guilt yet blame your friend for your guilt. To grab the next rung, let go of at least one.
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    May 15, 2015 6:44 PM GMT

    Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't; it all depends on the reasons why someone is doing it.

    "A woman I knew just drowned herself,
    The well was deep, and muddy,
    She was just shaking off futility,
    Or punishing somebody"

    -J Mitchell
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    May 15, 2015 6:50 PM GMT
    People who say that have most likely never been to that point in their lives. Once you reach the point of thinking death would be preferable to living, you are very very depressed. If they saw another way out they would likely choose it. Suicide is usually done to relieve a pain they have not been able to alleviate any other way. So asking them to think about you in that moment is actually rather selfish. They are feeling a truly unbearable pain they cannot live with.
  • venue35

    Posts: 4644

    May 15, 2015 6:56 PM GMT
    But they put themselves out of their misery and leave a big burden on loved ones
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    May 15, 2015 6:58 PM GMT


    I can give you an example of selfish. Four days ago, a lady in her 50s decided to end it all; a straight man I know was helping her for some months, and she fell for him.

    He didn't feel the same way and said it could only be friendship.

    So, four days ago she went down to tracks in the middle of town and threw herself in front of a train. The engineer of that train will probably never be the same. Whoever else witnessed it will likely need some counsel.

    The straight fellow I know went into a state of mixed shock and gut wrenching crying. I tried talking him down for a couple of hours.

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    May 15, 2015 7:09 PM GMT
    venue35 saidBut they put themselves out of their misery and leave a big burden on loved ones


    You're absolutely right. But when you're confronting a pain you can't deal with, relieving that pain is all you're thinking about. Think of it as an emotional "fight or flight" panic state. I really don't think anyone truly wants to kill themselves. They're doing it because they see no other option. Yes, you may see other options but they do not.
  • venue35

    Posts: 4644

    May 15, 2015 7:18 PM GMT
    I was reading a Tarantino biography and well they were all a group of friends who all wanted to make it in the film industry.
    The most sensitive friend who was going through depression felt that he couldn't compete with the others and especially with Tarantino..so one day he cut his wrists and then jumped off the roof of a tall building.
    27 years old how awful
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    May 15, 2015 7:29 PM GMT
    meninlove said
    Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't; it all depends on the reasons why someone is doing it.

    "A woman I knew just drowned herself,
    The well was deep, and muddy,
    She was just shaking off futility,
    Or punishing somebody"

    -J Mitchell


    Grrrr...meninlove...



    If there is no one around to be "hurt" by it, does that make it acceptable?
  • venue35

    Posts: 4644

    May 15, 2015 7:38 PM GMT
    Wow she drowned herself. That takes guts.
    Like Virginia Wolf
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    May 15, 2015 7:48 PM GMT
    venue35 saidWow she drowned herself. That takes guts.
    Like Virginia Wolf


    Virginia Woolf thought only the wealthy should be educated and refused to speak directly to her household staff, leaving them notes, instead.
  • venue35

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    May 15, 2015 8:04 PM GMT
    I don't think that she was well.
    I highly doubt that she was so uncaring cold and distant.
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    May 15, 2015 8:41 PM GMT
    I have had three friends commit suicide. Two while in college, the other about five years ago.

    The pain they leave behind never fucking ends.
    Do you understand that? IT NEVER FUCKING ENDS.
    The lives of the parents of the two college boys were altered forever. One couple split up---apparently this is not uncommon---the other had their marriage survive but it fucked up both siblings of the dead boy. It's pain that keeps on hurting for DECADES.

    The more recent one was an older man; his wife found him hanging in the garage. Within months she'd declined physically to the point of needing home healthcare; she died recently. Would she have kept her health longer?

    You tell me that inflicting that much hurt on the people who care deeply for you isn't selfish? Then what is it, exactly?
  • venue35

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    May 15, 2015 8:49 PM GMT
    I don't know anyone who has committed suicide but it must be awful dealing with the aftermath. It is selfish.
    So angry last year with Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman I don't want to judge them but the latter left 2 young children fatherless. And now they will have to grow up thinking God knows what about their father.
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    May 15, 2015 8:56 PM GMT
    Radd saidwhen you're confronting a pain you can't deal with, relieving that pain is all you're thinking about.

    Which is why I've never understood the opposition to assisted suicide for people who are terminally ill and in a lot of pain.
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    May 15, 2015 9:04 PM GMT
    Sharkspeare said

    You tell me that inflicting that much hurt on the people who care deeply for you isn't selfish? Then what is it, exactly?


    Isn't it also selfish of us to wish those we love to keep living even if it is agony for them?

  • Destinharbor

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    May 15, 2015 9:59 PM GMT
    bon_pan said
    Sharkspeare said

    You tell me that inflicting that much hurt on the people who care deeply for you isn't selfish? Then what is it, exactly?


    Isn't it also selfish of us to wish those we love to keep living even if it is agony for them?


    Perhaps if you're talking about physical pain. But not if it is mental anguish over something. That can get better with time and help. The physical pain part I've had some experience with. My sister died of breast cancer and there were many times she wanted to give up, she was just miserable with the treatment and the hospital and doctors and hopeless. I couldn't believe she wanted to give up and tried to buck up her spirits any way I could. But in the end, she was right. Hospice and misery were all she had at the end. I learned. But that is quite different from suicide as a cure for unhappiness. That is selfish because you're transferring your unhappiness to others who's only crime was to care for you.