A few days ago, a bank staff committed suicide, having written a note that says economic hardship is a contributing factor to her act. As usual, people reacted with the popular view, “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” When people commit suicide, people are quick to say how suicide is not a solution, which may not always be the case. How true?

As it turns out, not all problems are temporary. Problems like incurable diseases are permanent, shame and loss of dignity can be permanent. Hence, suicide could be a permanent solution to a permanent problem. Logically speaking, by suicide, you are only making quick a reality that will dawn on you later. Some say suicide is cowardice, but what bravery can be more than making your quietus with a bare bodkin, a poisonous substance, a thrust in your own gut, a bullet in your own head, or break your own neck dangling from the noose? Herodotus wrote:

“When life is so burdensome, death has become for man a sought-after refuge.” Schopenhauer affirmed: “They tell us that suicide is the greatest act of cowardice… that suicide is wrong; when it is quite obvious that there is nothing in the world to which every man has a more unassailable title than to his own life and person.

The moral correctness has been a subject of debate for centuries with some arguing for and others against suicide. Immanuel Kant, a proponent of categorical moral reasoning, strongly asserts that humans should never be treated as mere means to an end. For instance, enslaving individuals for pyramid construction is deemed unacceptable, as human life is considered sacred and deserving of respect. Kant argues that taking one’s own life, in a similar vein, equates to using oneself as a means to an end, violating the principle that humans are ends in themselves. Thus, a man cannot take his own life as a means to end his own pain.

There are two main reasons why Suicide is seen as wrong:

– The afterlife: In religions like Islam and Christianity, suicide is forbidden. Islam states emphatically that those who take their own lives will be in hell. So, why go from a temporary pain to a perpetual pain? This reflects the soliloquy of Hamlet when he pondered over whether to be patient with the troubles of this world or end it quickly? What then if we end our lives we think we’ll sleep forever but alas! In that sleep, there could be a dream, maybe bad dreams. So, the fear of something after death makes us cowards. If there is no life after death, how many of us will actually deal with troubles of this life? The heartaches and the thousand natural shocks, the pangs of deprived love, the law’s delay, the proud man’s contumely, the injustice, etc…

The fear of death prevents many from committing suicide. How shall we run from ills we know to those we know not of?

-The Worth of a Human life: Other than life after death, another reason is the regard for human life which is still linked to why suicide is forbidden in religion. Pico Dela Mirandola wrote an oration on the dignity of man citing that man’s autonomous nature makes him special. The same thing has been said by Immanuel Kant and is the fundamental basis of the law that says no one has the liberty to take the life of another. This is because human life is sacred, human is autonomous, he is different from other creatures. So, you can’t take this magnanimous life and that life includes your own. We might call it yours, we do not give you a right to disrespect it. It is sacred, violating it by ending it is the same as violating another life. This perspective corroborates with Qur’an 5:32 that says, “whoever saves a life is as if he has saved it and whoever kills a life unjustly is as if he has killed the whole of mankind”.

Suicide would be logically consistent only in a world where there is no God. Outside of religion, arguments against religion will always end in a paradox or approve utilitarian perspectives where the human becomes a commodity.

Life is short, but life’s tragedy could make it appear longer than it is. The journey yonder is a reality of its own. Shall we run from ephemeral pain to a perpetual state of lamentation? What if one thinks death is the end only to discover that death is actually the beginning of an end?

Your life is not yours to end; you’ll account to God who gave you Life.

Bashir Lucas Samson Lukman


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