The “rights” to suicide?

Death is a very difficult problem to deal with, especially when suicide is the cause. After a suicidal death, other than grieving, people often feel guilty as well as angry toward the deceased person because they feel that the person’s death is related to them. Suicide represents the tie between the society and the individuals. As we have learned in class, a too strong or weak tie between the person and society can lead to different types of suicide. Suicide is very personal because the choice is made by the individual. However, it is also not personal because there are many external factors that influence a suicidal decision. In my opinion, when deciding to suicide, people often try to identify themselves in relation with other people in communities. Therefore, the society’s value and culture indirectly control whether or not a person has the “rights” to take his own life.

In class, we talked about suicide in suicide bombers. These people are willing to give up their life for the future of the society. This is partly due to the fact that society glorifies their death as heroic. The suicide bomber might feel that he will bring honor to his family and nation. Such relationship between the individual, family and society gives the person the “rights” to take his own life freely.

However, in some cultures, people are not “allowed” to take their own lives. In countries with strong Buddhism influence, the value of families is especially emphasized. In a very famous Chinese tale, Nezha is a child deity. As a little child, he accidently kills the Dragon King’s son who comes to bully his friends. Nezha’s father who is always not pleased with Nezha almost sacrifices his son to save the people. However, Nezha kills himself first to save his people from the wrath of the Dragon King. Nezha did not just kill himself; he carves his flesh and bones and returns them to his parents. This action is to repay the “debt” of his parents giving birth to him. The following is an excerpt of the tale, when the Dragon King demands Natra to “take responsibility” for his action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8THpvyba3Lg. From this tale, there is a notion that your body does not belong to you. It is given to you by your parents and you have no rights to destroy it without their consent.

Why do we feel angry at the deceased and think that the person is “selfish”? The person is selfish because he did not consider the feeling and well beings of other people, even though his body is supposed to be his own to take? Therefore, society’s value in some way gives a “yes” or  “no” to a suicidal act. When a person disregards the social value, his death is regarded as a bad death.

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