STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Suicide has been a topic of interest for centuries to philosophers and others, in Western society it has generally carried a negative sanction. Historically, this sanction has been religious, viewing suicide as a rejection of God’s gift of life, and civil, where it was considered a failure to accept one’s obligation to the state.1
Generally speaking, suicide is an attempt for someone to takes his or her life. That is why McAlpine and colleagues described it as an act of voluntarily and intentionally taking one’s own life.2 The word suicide, etymologically, is from two Latin roots, Sui (of oneself) and Cidium (slaying).3 Emile Durkheim explained suicide to cases applied to death which result directly or indirectly from a positive or negative act of the victim concerned, which he is aware will produce that result.4
Many researchers in various disciplines such as philosophy, sociology, psychology and medicine, explore diverse definitions of suicide. American Psychiatric Association defined suicide as self-death, with clear or unclear evidence that the person intended to die.5 World Health Organization emphasized that suicide was any deliberate action which has a life threatening consequence, with the result of the action been entirely predictable.6 This definition of suicide by the World Health Organization is quite comprehensive because it emphasized both the self-destructive outcome and the predictable precondition. From this perspective, suicide can said to be any action intended to culminate in self-motivated death. This mean that drug abuse, automobile misuse, risky games and directly self-induced death, all fall under the ambit of suicide. Benhoeffer defines suicide as “the ultimate and extreme self justification of man as man, and it is therefore from the purely human stand point, in certain sense even the self-accomplished punishment for a life that has failed”.7 Suicide involves man’s attempt to give a final human meaning to a life that has become humanly meaningless.
In Nigeria suicide is a taboo and sacrilegious.8 According to Makinwa, “In Uganda, poor people chose to die because death was more promising than life, example of this is the news of about one thousand cult members of the movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandment of God that committed suicide in Uganda.9 In France 12,000 people attempted suicide every 40 minutes. One out of every three French persons has experienced the trauma of having someone close to, committing suicide”. There are numerous causes of suicide. They include frustration, poverty, impotence, fear, shameful events or acts, disagreement with parents, loses, hopelessness, alcoholism, drug abuse, terminal illness etc which often result in depression and despair. In Africa, due to religious and cultural practices, some young ladies committed suicide over their parents’ refusal to their choice of spouse.10
From all that have been discussed so far, it is difficult to give an exact definite or meaning to the word “suicide” because it is portrayed as bad but to the suicide, it is a good fate. The use of the different phrases to describe suicide was actually to portray how closely related it was to murder. On the strength of this, there was the main concern about the soul of one who has committed suicide. The major challenge elicited by this concern led to different religious views about suicide. This also aroused philosophical contentions that bordered on metaphysics, especially from the stand point of the soul, reincarnation and afterlife. In this instance, it can be argued that suicide has been a deep controversial issue especially discussed in most of the philosophical schools of the Greco-Roman World. Each school formed her opinion on the consequences and moral meanings of suicide. Eventually, many Greeks came to consider suicide as a heroic act”.11 This led Nock to conclude that “there was a certain fascination about self-chosen death”.12 These and other levels of contention necessitated the depth of philosophical and religious attraction towards the study of suicide.
The relationship between philosophy, religion, culture and suicide have been postulated.13 It can be argued that suicide is high in societies that are socially isolated, mobile and disorganized. It is lower in countries or subcultures whose philosophical, religious or cultural mores proscribe suicide. The consequence is that philosophy, culture and religion could be averred as composite correlates of suicide. No doubt philosophical perception sets out a deep consideration of the different paradigms in most levels of discourse on suicide.
It is from the foregoing that this essay seeks to underscore some arguments for and against suicide taking into cognizance the moral posture regarding the subject matter (suicide). Does man’s free moral agency license him to do anything even to include willful taking of his life? Is there any gain living when all hope is gone, or in the face of suffering a terminal and incurable disease? Sometimes ones losses the essence of life and comes face to face with suicide as a better and only option. What is moral stand on suicide? These and more are the problem of this essay.
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
The purpose of this essay is to critically analyse suicide and the idea of rights.
The thesis of the essay states that that man should not necessary see suicide as the right option for escaping the vicissitudes of life, which are often likely to confront man..
This method to be adopted in this essay will be conceptual clarification and critical analysis.
SCOPE AND LIMITATION
This research shall cover all concept of suicide, viz-a-viz the idea of right.
SOURCES OF MATERIAL
The materials to be used for the essay shall be gotten from journal, articles, historical records, textbooks, conference proceeding, newspapers and magazines as well as materials sourced from internet.
Chapter One: Conceptual Clarification of Suicide
Chapter Two: Arguments For and Against Suicide
Chapter Three: Suicide and the Idea of Right: A Critical Analysis.
Summary and Conclusion