I have had the doubtful privilege of growing up in two different abusive households while also having an absentee father.
I have been chronically depressed at least since age 7 back in 1995.
I have been chronically suicidal at least since age 11 back in 1999.
Ages 10-20 have basically been constant trauma for me.
I have been trying to get better for over 15 years now and seen no qualitative change in my life whatsoever. Basic human needs have never been met for me and I'm constantly suffering from that.
By now I'm not only poor on top of all that, but also homeless.
I have learned time and again that I will not receive the help I would need for any substantial improvement of my mental health.
On the contrary – I regularly seem to end up having to argue that I too deserve to have basic human needs met. Many people seem well-enough aware of material privilege – but as soon as things are about social privilege, the whole "to each according to their need, from each according to their ability"-thing breaks apart in a real fucking hurry.
Additionally there's a pandemic going on and government-mandated social isolation policies illegalize most activities that could improve my mental health.
This is not a dignified existence and I should not be made to suffer it for someone elses benefit.
Therefore, I would like to put forth my own position on suicide as well as the enabling of and assistance in it.
First of all, I would like to define my terms:
Suicide: Ending your life of your own volition. Ending your life under duress or manipulation does not count as suicide for me, but rather as murder. Aaron Swartz, for example, was murdered.
Enablement: Any passive participation in the suicide by any individual other than the suicidee. This includes things such as materially enabling the suicidee to procure their own means of death, offering a location or just being in attendance when suicide is finally committed.
Assistance: Any active participation in the suicide by any individual other than the suicidee. This includes things such as procuring the means of death as well as preparing the procedure to go ahead on the say-so of the suicidee.
To talk about suicide, I should probably first talk about Death and what I believe it's like. I'm a materialist atheist, meaning I don't believe in anything outside of material reality and don't believe in any deities.
As such, it strikes me, that death is simply the end of your existence and as such a non-experience. I think the closest thing in religious coding I've seen is the concept of Nirvana – of being freed from the circle of life, death and rebirth and the suffering that entails.
So to me, death represents the ultimate neutrality. Nothing positive, nothing negative, just nothing.
From this it follows for me, that death is a working solution to alleviate chronic suffering and might be seen as the only one that manages to actually present a permanent solution to suffering.
This combined with my rather rabid belief in the autonomy of self leads me to the point that the right to end your own existence of your own volition should be an absolute and irrevocable right.
And yes, I do explicitly include children in the cadre of people who should have that right. While it'd be nice to think that we as a society would protect children in circumstances so bad they'd rather die, I'm living proof that that's not what happens and would rather not categorically deny them the decision of ending their suffering.
I think passive involvement is one of the central things in making sure the suicidee can obtain a dignified death. For one, most people won't want to die alone. In my opinion this is already enough to justify passive involvement in a persons suicide.
But other factors such as material enablement are important as well as I don't think anyone should be forced to slash the radial arteries in their arms and bleed out because they can't afford the acquisition of a sufficient amount of inert gases – anyone who chooses to die should be able to do so without additional suffering.
Which brings us to…
Many people suffering so much they opt to end their lives aren't in a condition allowing for the acquisition of their means of death or even for executing the needed procedure given the means.
Additionally, I think it is very understandable for people who would like to end their lives to be terrified of the potential of botching their own death. Nobody wants to end up as a proverbial vegetable or end up suffering a horrifyingly messy death.
For these people, active assistance is needed and justified. This is of course an area where proper vetting of those supplying said assistance is a requirement because of the abusive potential of manipulation or plain incompetence on their side.
Also, most people seeking to end their lives through medicative means will need the cooperation of a medical professional.
I am aware of the ethical conundrum this presents for many because "First, do no harm" but would argue that this is a moot point as for someone suffering so badly, they wish to end their lives, doing nothing is doing harm.
So yes, I think suicide can be very much justified as can be the enablement of and active assistance in it. It is not our place to dictate to people what an "acceptable" level of suffering is.
I do not wish to dissuade anyone from helping people move away from the need for suicide but I would also like to make a few things clear:
Do not take the option of suicide away from people. To do that is to corner them in their suffering and should be avoided at all costs. Especially if you won't or can't supply the needed help to alleviate the suffering of the person wishing to die – nobody should have to make the argument that if there's no way out of their suffering they should have the option to end said suffering. This should be a given in a society that considers itself humane.
Accept if you're not in a position to supply the needed help to someone wishing to die.
Accept that you're not responsible for their death because you are unable to help. Their suffering exists independently from you, don't center yourself in it.
Avoid magical thinking about therapy or medicine. By insisting that all a person needs is therapy or medication, especially after they've had the experience with it needed to judge whether those help, you are not only denying their suffering at a very basic level but are also slipping into an authoritarian mindset that, in all likelihood, will only serve to bring about more trauma for the person involved.
Please understand that not existing alleviates all suffering and realize why, in a world like this, for a lot of people, death is the only realistic way to finally escape suffering.
That said, I would also like to make another point. If somebody you know and value is acutely suicidal:
When is the time to help them if not now?
When is the time to be honest with them if not now?
If not now, the only possible answer can be never.
Are you considering to end your life?
Hi! If you want to die, I can obviously relate somewhat to your current position and I'm definitely not here to talk you out of anything.
If you are to proceed however, there are a few things you should do.
First of all, don't rush it. Life is temporary but death is permanent.
Do not take this decision lightly as it is the most fundamental one you can ever make.
There are many ways to botch your own death and you should think long and hard about how, where and with whom you wish to die.
Reach out to those you would want to attend your death and see if they can't provide some meaningful help after all.
If you don't have anyone, there's suicide hotlines in most parts of the world and you might want to reach out to them.
Alternatively, you can reach out to me. I can't guarantee that I'll be of any help, but you'll definitely have my ear.
If you haven't tried therapy or other medical interventions (that are acceptable to you) before, do so now. A grain of salt, tho: Medical practicioners might force you into stationary care if you outright admit to planning your suicide.
If you still feel the need to end your life, read Derek Humphry's Final Exit, let it simmer in your head for a few weeks and then read it again.
If you're still sure you want to end your life after all that, proceed. Get your documents like a living will in order, invite those you wish to attend and acquire your means of death.
I wish you all the best in your final journey.
This is not a declaration of intent.
I have not yet decided to end my own existence, but if and when that time comes I hope you can respect my choice and honor my autonomy.