Is Suicide An Altruistic Act?

Ahso!
Posts: 10215
Joined: Wed Nov 11, 2009 1:38 pm

Is Suicide An Altruistic Act?

Post by Ahso! »

On the part of those who do it while in their "right" mind?

Thoughts?
“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities,”

Voltaire



I have only one thing to do and that's

Be the wave that I am and then

Sink back into the ocean

Fiona Apple
User avatar
YZGI
Posts: 11518
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 11:24 am

Is Suicide An Altruistic Act?

Post by YZGI »

Ahso!;1398374 wrote: On the part of those who do it while in their "right" mind?

Thoughts?


How can you be in a "right" mind and commit suicide?
User avatar
Snooz
Posts: 4800
Joined: Sat Jan 20, 2007 7:05 am

Is Suicide An Altruistic Act?

Post by Snooz »

If you know you're terminally ill or you're. Just about to slip into full time alzheimers, then I think you're in your right mind and suicide can indeed be altruistic

.

(
User avatar
Snooz
Posts: 4800
Joined: Sat Jan 20, 2007 7:05 am

Is Suicide An Altruistic Act?

Post by Snooz »

Gah. Trying to post on my phone is a pain.
yaaarrrgg
Posts: 1193
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2007 9:29 pm

Is Suicide An Altruistic Act?

Post by yaaarrrgg »

That's an interesting possibility. Come to think of it, I don't hear of non-human animals killing themselves, intentional suicide seems to be unique to humans. The closest thing might be with a dog allowing itself to be killed to protect a pack, which is an altruistic action to promote group survival. With wild animals that are caged, sometimes they lose the "will to live", reject food, or refuse to reproduce. This might be because the flight instinct is turned on in full force, causing a lot of stress for the animal.
Clodhopper
Posts: 5115
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 5:11 pm

Is Suicide An Altruistic Act?

Post by Clodhopper »

I think as an expiation of shame, it might be altruistic - done to save others from suffering eg social disgrace. There might be good reasons for it such as hopeless pain or terminal and degrading illness, but generally I would say suicide is always selfish. It gets a person out of a situation, but leaves everyone else to deal with the mess.
The crowd: "Yes! We are all individuals!"

Lone voice: "I'm not."
Clodhopper
Posts: 5115
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 5:11 pm

Is Suicide An Altruistic Act?

Post by Clodhopper »

How about suicide as a rational act when in good health and with the world apparently all before you?

Brilliant pupil's 'logical' suicide - News - The Independent

I find this quite disturbing. I wonder what the maths was he used?
The crowd: "Yes! We are all individuals!"

Lone voice: "I'm not."
User avatar
Snooz
Posts: 4800
Joined: Sat Jan 20, 2007 7:05 am

Is Suicide An Altruistic Act?

Post by Snooz »

Clodhopper;1398553 wrote: I think as an expiation of shame, it might be altruistic - done to save others from suffering eg social disgrace. There might be good reasons for it such as hopeless pain or terminal and degrading illness, but generally I would say suicide is always selfish. It gets a person out of a situation, but leaves everyone else to deal with the mess.


A quick, bloodless suicide is a lot less messy than years of taking care of an Alzheimer's patient.
Clodhopper
Posts: 5115
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 5:11 pm

Is Suicide An Altruistic Act?

Post by Clodhopper »

Is the carer or the Alzheimer's sufferer suiciding in this case? The former is definitely selfish. The latter?

Yeah - I think suicide can be justified in the case of eg Alzheimer's. It would still be a selfish act though, in the literal meaning of the word "selfish" as primarily concerned with self.

It also occurred to me that in eg the Japanese culture, hara kiri can perhaps be an altruistic act. Don't really know enough about it, but I believe that people could suicide to protest against something and that could, I think, be altruistic...
The crowd: "Yes! We are all individuals!"

Lone voice: "I'm not."
gmc
Posts: 13566
Joined: Sun Aug 29, 2004 9:44 am

Is Suicide An Altruistic Act?

Post by gmc »

How you you class the actions of a soldier or airman taking part in an action they know they will not survive. In some circumstances is is an altruistic act.
Clodhopper
Posts: 5115
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 5:11 pm

Is Suicide An Altruistic Act?

Post by Clodhopper »

gmc;1398611 wrote: How you you class the actions of a soldier or airman taking part in an action they know they will not survive. In some circumstances is is an altruistic act.


I don't think it's suicide - unless they are strapped with explosives as a human bomb or similar: the Japanese did it in Burma - human anti-tank mines of some poor sod sitting in a foxhole with an aircraft bomb and a rock. When a tank went over the foxhole the soldier was supposed to smack the detonator with the rock. And they did. Whether it was altruistic or not would presumably depend on whether the soldier was primarily doing it to save his friends or to kill the enemy. Complicated...

Generally though, I think soldiers even on the most dangerous missions hope they will survive, even if it's odds against.
The crowd: "Yes! We are all individuals!"

Lone voice: "I'm not."
User avatar
Wild Fire
Posts: 59
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 12:26 pm

Is Suicide An Altruistic Act?

Post by Wild Fire »

A person's destiny is their own to choose and create. Including when and how they leave this world.
gmc
Posts: 13566
Joined: Sun Aug 29, 2004 9:44 am

Is Suicide An Altruistic Act?

Post by gmc »

Clodhopper;1398612 wrote: I don't think it's suicide - unless they are strapped with explosives as a human bomb or similar: the Japanese did it in Burma - human anti-tank mines of some poor sod sitting in a foxhole with an aircraft bomb and a rock. When a tank went over the foxhole the soldier was supposed to smack the detonator with the rock. And they did. Whether it was altruistic or not would presumably depend on whether the soldier was primarily doing it to save his friends or to kill the enemy. Complicated...

Generally though, I think soldiers even on the most dangerous missions hope they will survive, even if it's odds against.


They might hope to survive yet most will have been only too aware of the odds.

There are many instances of soldiers fighting to the bitter end when they could have surrendered or got away or deliberately crashing their planes in to other aircraft or ships (not just Japanese) - how about airman who stay with their aircraft so they can steer them away from houses thereby ending their own lives. . Arguably walking to within a hundred yards of your enemy (I'm thinking of the Napoleonic wars) and then taking turns to shoot volleys at each other is suicide since the odds are pretty high you won't live is as suicidal thing to do. If someone takes a decision that by any normal standard is suicidal and that they are unlikely to gain from then there motives are altruistic. That poor sod with the bomb and a rock was being altruistic - there was no way he was going to gain from the action. OK you can argue he was brainwashed but there are plenty of similar stories from western history.

posted by wildfire

A person's destiny is their own to choose and create. Including when and how they leave this world.




I'd be inclined to agree with you but to the Christian church suicide is a mortal sin and damns you for eternity.
yaaarrrgg
Posts: 1193
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2007 9:29 pm

Is Suicide An Altruistic Act?

Post by yaaarrrgg »

The military example is interesting. Altruism is generally given a positive connotation though it may have two different meanings. One, if a person believes their sacrifice is for the benefit of others (regardless of fact). For example if a man believes he's the son of God, he may jump out a window to save mankind. And second, if an action does give a survival advantage to a group. However the first case is just a feeling, relative to an individual's emotional state. The second case might actually be helping a group that does more harm than good to other groups. There, any value will be judged relative to culture affected by the group given the advantage.
Clodhopper
Posts: 5115
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 5:11 pm

Is Suicide An Altruistic Act?

Post by Clodhopper »

gmc and yaaarrrgg: You've made me realise we need to differentiate between giving your life away and actively taking your own life. I think the soldier or airman chooses heroically to give his life in the cases gmc mentions. Even the kamikaze is fighting as he dies, whereas the true suicide is not, beyond actively killing himself (as in yaaarrgg's cases).

Does that make sense?
The crowd: "Yes! We are all individuals!"

Lone voice: "I'm not."
User avatar
AnneBoleyn
Posts: 6632
Joined: Sun Dec 11, 2011 3:17 pm

Is Suicide An Altruistic Act?

Post by AnneBoleyn »

Wild Fire;1398624 wrote: A person's destiny is their own to choose and create. Including when and how they leave this world.
What about the survivors? I heard a child say, whose father committed suicide, "I guess I wasn't good enough for him to want to live."
User avatar
Wild Fire
Posts: 59
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 12:26 pm

Is Suicide An Altruistic Act?

Post by Wild Fire »

gmc;1398640 wrote: I'd be inclined to agree with you but to the Christian church suicide is a mortal sin and damns you for eternity.


And, of course, the Christian church has all the answers about this sort of thing. Pshaw.

There is no place in my life for any organized religion. I believe in God and I talk to Him whenever I want to. I don't need some narrow-minded church organization to tell me how to talk to God or how to live my life.

What about the survivors? I heard a child say, whose father committed suicide, "I guess I wasn't good enough for him to want to live."


What about them? Am I supposed to change my belief that a person should do whatever they choose because of the effects of their choice? Of course, in some cases, suicide is a completely selfish act. The people left behind may blame themselves for what happened. And there isn't a damn thing I can do about that. But I will always believe that a person has the right to choose their own destiny. I personally wouldn't off myself; I have too much to live for. But the choice should always belong to the individual. Free will, ya know?
User avatar
AnneBoleyn
Posts: 6632
Joined: Sun Dec 11, 2011 3:17 pm

Is Suicide An Altruistic Act?

Post by AnneBoleyn »

I agree with you that a person's destiny is their own. I suppose the survivors meet the pain as best they possibly can.
Clodhopper
Posts: 5115
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 5:11 pm

Is Suicide An Altruistic Act?

Post by Clodhopper »

Am I supposed to change my belief that a person should do whatever they choose because of the effects of their choice?


Um, yes?
The crowd: "Yes! We are all individuals!"

Lone voice: "I'm not."
User avatar
AnneBoleyn
Posts: 6632
Joined: Sun Dec 11, 2011 3:17 pm

Is Suicide An Altruistic Act?

Post by AnneBoleyn »

Clodhopper;1398678 wrote: Um, yes?
Brings me back to OP---how can a suicide which leaves victims behind (esp. children) ever be considered altruistic? Maybe the children (or another) would prefer the 'burden' of care? Yet, if life has become such a horror, maybe it is the survivors who should try to be altruistic (I believe altruism does not exist).
User avatar
Wild Fire
Posts: 59
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 12:26 pm

Is Suicide An Altruistic Act?

Post by Wild Fire »

Clodhopper;1398678 wrote: Um, yes?


Um, no.
gmc
Posts: 13566
Joined: Sun Aug 29, 2004 9:44 am

Is Suicide An Altruistic Act?

Post by gmc »

AnneBoleyn;1398680 wrote: Brings me back to OP---how can a suicide which leaves victims behind (esp. children) ever be considered altruistic? Maybe the children (or another) would prefer the 'burden' of care? Yet, if life has become such a horror, maybe it is the survivors who should try to be altruistic (I believe altruism does not exist).


It really depends on the circumstances surrounding why they did it I think it's a mistake to look for a black and white verdict on the issue. As I said earlier to Christians it is a mortal sin and you'll go straight to hell personally I am loathe to take delight in the misery of others. Sad to see you don't think altruism exists -I think it is a human norm and not caring is abnormal. Without altruism we have no society.
Clodhopper
Posts: 5115
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 5:11 pm

Is Suicide An Altruistic Act?

Post by Clodhopper »

Um, no.


Let me find the quotation in question:

Am I supposed to change my belief that a person should do whatever they choose because of the effects of their choice?




So you are saying that in all circumstances you will exercise your right to do as you wish regardless of the consequences to anybody or anything else?

Wow.

You can't mean this the way I'm reading it.
The crowd: "Yes! We are all individuals!"

Lone voice: "I'm not."
Clodhopper
Posts: 5115
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 5:11 pm

Is Suicide An Altruistic Act?

Post by Clodhopper »

Brings me back to OP---how can a suicide which leaves victims behind (esp. children) ever be considered altruistic? Maybe the children (or another) would prefer the 'burden' of care? Yet, if life has become such a horror, maybe it is the survivors who should try to be altruistic (I believe altruism does not exist).


I reckon the laying down of life for a friend is pretty altruistic. Or the pilot who stays with his crashing plane to avoid the built up area. But these are exceptions and rightly honoured as such and I'm not really sure they should be classified as suicide. Generally I agree that the selfish gene rules. In the case of suicide, I think it can be justified in a number of possible scenarios even with children. For example, I think a system whereby people can indicate circumstances in which the machines would be switched off or whatever might be the best way forward. But it's a complex area and I woudn't claim to have a fixed opinion at present.
The crowd: "Yes! We are all individuals!"

Lone voice: "I'm not."
User avatar
Wild Fire
Posts: 59
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 12:26 pm

Is Suicide An Altruistic Act?

Post by Wild Fire »

Clodhopper;1398757 wrote: You can't mean this the way I'm reading it.


No, I don't. Of course I mean within the law, in most cases. Yes, attempting suicide is against the law (it is in this state, anyway) but it shouldn't be. There are occasions where the law or the rules are just wrong. But I do mean allowing a person to do as they choose within the law, usually.

I may seem a bit strange to some, but I am not an anarchist.
K.Snyder
Posts: 10253
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2005 2:05 pm

Is Suicide An Altruistic Act?

Post by K.Snyder »

Anyone's attempt to commit suicide is altruistic. The real question is whether or not one is justified in their attempt to commit suicide based on their perception of the social implications that led to their reasoning. The worst part of all of it is how skilled society is at disheartening these people.
User avatar
Bryn Mawr
Posts: 15924
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2006 4:54 pm

Is Suicide An Altruistic Act?

Post by Bryn Mawr »

K.Snyder;1435687 wrote: Anyone's attempt to commit suicide is altruistic. The real question is whether or not one is justified in their attempt to commit suicide based on their perception of the social implications that led to their reasoning. The worst part of all of it is how skilled society is at disheartening these people.


Those committing suicide might believe that they are doing the best for their "family", I have never been able to get inside their heads well enough to work that out, but most of the instances I've been witness to they have been wrong.

As to society "disheartening" people, the lack of empathy we show to those in need is heartbreaking.
User avatar
theia
Posts: 8243
Joined: Mon Jun 20, 2005 3:54 pm

Is Suicide An Altruistic Act?

Post by theia »

Bryn Mawr;1435752 wrote: Those committing suicide might believe that they are doing the best for their "family", I have never been able to get inside their heads well enough to work that out, but most of the instances I've been witness to they have been wrong.

As to society "disheartening" people, the lack of empathy we show to those in need is heartbreaking.


I think we can only ever do the best for ourselves, as the self is always our starting point. I don't know of anyone who is selfless and that makes me wonder if anyone can behave altruistically...but that is just a "wondering."
Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answers...Rainer Maria Rilke
Ahso!
Posts: 10215
Joined: Wed Nov 11, 2009 1:38 pm

Is Suicide An Altruistic Act?

Post by Ahso! »

When I first posed the question in the OP, I was thinking from the perspective of the suicidal person and the assumption that what we do somehow benefits us; and as a further assumption, the benefits to the group or species as a whole.

Many of the laments of the suicidal person are such like; "nobody likes me"; "I'm a drag on others"; "I do everything wrong"; "I'm an outcast" etc..
“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities,”

Voltaire



I have only one thing to do and that's

Be the wave that I am and then

Sink back into the ocean

Fiona Apple

Return to “Philosophy”