Social Question

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Is suicide ever rational?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (31273points) December 16th, 2010

No, this question is not about me. No, I’m not suicidal.

I have a very close friend who lives in another country. We chat and/or Skype every day. We’ve known each other for 11.5 years.

His life has been dismal for longer than we’ve known each other. He’s lived with chronic back pain that is treatable with only the highest doses of pain killers regularly available. Surgery hasn’t helped.

He’s had bad luck in relationships over and over again.

What’s perhaps most striking about him is his intelligence. He’s certified in the top 0.1% of Mensa.

He has a striking sense of humor, and indeed, he made a living for years as a stand-up comic.

But he’s now in a place where he’s truly stuck. I won’t go into the details, but he’s honestly in a place that seems hopeless. He’s in constant pain. He’s alone. He has no money.

Can suicide be a rational choice in some situations?

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15 Answers

zophu's avatar

I will not let my spirit die before my body.

marinelife's avatar

I don’t think so.

Has he gone to a pain clinic that specializes in treating chronic pain? He could look into it.

If he has had the back pain for years, has he been examined by a back specialist recently? There have been great advances in the last few years.

It sounds to me like the impulse for suicide is coming from where it always does: despair and no hope for the future.

YoBob's avatar

If he had some sort of incurable wasting disease for which there was no hope of cure and he had already reached the point where we was totally bed ridden with no hope of improvement before the inevitable, then perhaps.

However, from your description this guy seems to just be pissed that things haven’t worked out the way he would like. Sure, the back pain thing is, well, a pain. But it is treatable. As for the rest of it, it sounds to me like he just wants some sort of approval to “take the easy way out”.

zophu's avatar

As long as you have people, there’s no rational reason to commt suicided. I hope you haven’t actually given up hope in the guy, he probably needs all the faith he can get.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I had a friend that had a very bad, very, very painful back. Drugs couldn’t provide any relief. He was confined to a wheelchair. One morning the caretakers arrived and he had shot himself in the head sometime during the night. Rational? I don’t know. Understandable, yes.

john65pennington's avatar

The pain killers this person is having to take, will eventually bring him down to think about suicide. surely, there is some procedure that can give him some relief to the pain in his back. losing all hope is like a train about to run off its tracks.

There is no reason on earth for a person to even consider suicide. you are a good person for attempting to help this person. i have had four back surgeries and also live in constant pain. i dismiss the pain from my brain and carry on in life. this person needs something in his life to help him sidetrack his pain. your brain controls your body. any easy job will get his mind off his back and hopefully bring some joy back into his life. never give up. WalMart will hire this person as a greeter and they can sit in a wheelchair, if necessary.

Continue to encourage your friend to look for a job. he will have the pain, but his pain will be less severe. the bodies natural pain killers, endorphines, will kick in to help him survive.

AstroChuck's avatar

Life is a gift to most and a curse to some. No one asked for their life. If someone is suffering being in it then I see nothing irrational about ending one’s own life. Still, you had better be sure. It’s not as if you get the chance to change your mind afterwards.

zophu's avatar

@AstroChuck Well, that has to do with how you define an individual’s life and the importance of its relations to others in both narrow and broad senses. I guess if we can assume that a life has no potential for being anything significant, and that no one would suffer much for the loss of it, suicide can be rational. But I’m not sure if those assumptions can be.

poisonedantidote's avatar

It can be perfectly rational, Euthanasia would be a good example. If you are going to die soon from something real horrible, if your goal is to avoid suffering, suicide would be perfectly logical and rational. You could also have suicide for the greater good, some kind of noble cause, for example, throwing your self on a granade to save the general.

Sure, some people may not consider that “suicide” in the usual context, but I would. Sure they are rare events, most suicide is some depressed guy with a gun. But I think exceptions like these show how some times it can be rational.

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t think it’s rational to commit suicide. I think the decision is made in response to unendurable pain that looks like it will never end as long the person is alive. I don’t believe we can be rational when experiencing unendurable pain.

Actually, I’ve just set up a Catch-22 situation. If you’re in enough pain to think suicide is right for you, you aren’t rational. If you are rational, you won’t choose to try suicide.

ucme's avatar

Those unfortunate enough to encounter cases of euthanasia/assisted suicide, would justifiably give a resounding yes to that notion.

janbb's avatar

I think it can be a rational choice when the individual has decided they are in too much pain – either physical or psychic – to want to live any more.

YARNLADY's avatar

Possibly. My Father-In-Law came close, in letting himself die at the age of 89. He just didn’t feel like fighting anymore, and passed on. His family was all around him, and we gave him what comfort we could.

mrmijunte's avatar

Suicide is not rational, unless you are about to get kidnapped and know you will get tortured and then murdered. But then again humans usually hope for the best even if presented with facts to the contrary. I believe in your friends case, and I understand your concern, must seek help. Maybe in his country there are programs of assistance? It is a very touchy situation because if he is indeed alone, hope or something to look forward to makes a decision like suicide easier. Maybe he needs to feel like he is part of something or a group? How about getting him to play an MMO? Get his mind out of the dark and immerse himself in that. Hope this is a decent idea.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Yes, when the person is rational.

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