Interesting topic if I do say so my self. In basic training there were always a few soldiers mucking around on “suicide watch”. These guys couldn’t be left alone, had to wear an orange vest and had to give up their shoelaces. I understood not leaving them alone and the orange vest (they could be picked out as people not to be alone, if they were seen alone they could be snapped up quickly, a bit demeaning perhaps, but I see and saw no better way) but the shoe laces always got me. Sure, Joe Blow has no laces to hang himself with, but using a blanket or sheets would be a pretty simple task and there are at least 110 other pairs of boots, at least 55 other pairs of sneakers and another 55 pairs of dress shoes all sitting out at night, so the utility of this is pretty minimal.
That’s not what I wanted to talk about though. Suicide is seen as a sin in Christianity and that is perfectly respectable position that I would guess even some atheists would hold. Sin being a pretty universal concept both in and outside of religion (something wrong “on the face” is sinful). Within Catholicism if one commits suicide one cannot be buried on consecrated ground, and going back into the pages of history, suicides were at times posthumously decapitated, staked through the heart, buried at a cross roads, and a few other things to ensure they were either not resurrected or later did not come back as vampires or other beasts. (the beast thing was less religion than a social artifact not having anything to do with a church.) It’s also interesting that Islam also prohibits suicide, but there is a pretty high incidence of suicide bombings, which not regarded as suicide, but as martyrdom. Strictly speaking that is true, and pretty obvious. The goal isn’t to kill ones self but rather to accomplish something else, with ones death being known, but incidental.
Judaism: Does not bar suicide, but only permits it in cases where a more serious sin is the alternative.
Christianity: By and large prohibited under any circumstances by all sects.
Islam: Prohibited, but a clear distinction is made, as in most peoples minds and most religions, for cases where one must die to accomplish something else. Suicide bombings are really not suicide, they are self sacrifice. When I was doing the bit of research needed for this post, I have decided I will no longer refer to suicide bombings as such, due to this reason. I suggest others do as well, it is an important distinction.
Atheism: Obviously there are no static positions taken here, but I just wanted to mention religiously unaffiliated persons have a much higher suicide rate. I’m not sure why this is. I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with religion because the term used is “religiously unaffiliated” rather than “non-religious”. There are plenty of people who affiliate with a religion but don’t believe any of it and don’t attend church at all. I think what’s going on here might be the lack of affiliation with a religion, which often brings a sense of belonging to a community that you would expect to see lacking in many despondent people. I expect if researchers were to dig deeper, we would find that atheists who are affiliated with non-religious communities of some sort, would have a lower rate probably similar to what the religiously affiliated have.
Hindus: Not expressly prohibited, but the number of views is staggering. Some says suicides come back as something ghost-like, others see no issues at all.
Buddhists: Again, no specific prohibitions that I could find, but generally frowned upon. The whole reincarnation thing seems to indicate you might come back as a sea cucumber or something equally as unpleasant like a liberal. (ha, ha!)
Personally I am against assisted suicide, doctor assisted or otherwise.I do however draw a distinction here because I believe it should be legal, and not just for those with terminal illnesses. If you believe suicides go to hell, then that is between you as Jesus if you decide to kill yourself, not you and I. There do need to be some protections and I don’t think suicide should EVER be forced on someone, especially by the state. In cases where you have an individual in a coma, I don’t think the family should be left to decide either. If the person has expressed their wishes for such circumstances, then so be it. If not, they should be kept alive until their personal resources are depleted, and further if their family decides to continue or if some third party payer is taking care of it, whether for a specified period or not.
Just like with birth control, if you decide you want to be kept alive under all circumstances that is fine with me, I just ask that I not be made to pay for that choice and you do so instead. Respecting someones choices but refusing to pay for them is not the same thing as banning them from making those choices or actively restricting them by other means. You have a right to firearms, but no one should be forced to buy you one, nor should anyone be so forced to provide contraception for your use or TV commercials for you to exercise your right to free speech, but spending your own money is your business.
But that’s all just what I think with some info tossed in as a side dish. Comments welcome.