“Suicide” is a dark word, one covered with varying perceptions and projections of the degrees of hurt that could contribute to the desire to do away with life. In most cases, those who commit suicide are faced with problems that seem insurmountable. Problems are inevitable, but how one handles them can be the distinguishing factor between an individual that would commit suicide and one that would survive a significant degree of stress. For a person that has not thought about committing suicide at any time during his/her life, conceptualizing suicide can be a hazy process. Particularly, understanding the factors that drive people to suicide can be difficult for those who have never been driven to the brink of suicide. Different feelings, interpersonal relationships, and fears create a conducive environment for suicidal thoughts. In an article, Schwartz-Lifshitz and Others (624-633) attempt to discuss suicide prevention beginning from the question, ‘can we really prevent suicide?’
Through this question, the authors explore a variety of options through which suicide can be prevented including through general public education, restriction, gatekeeper training, and responsible media coverage among others. While most of the approaches discussed are proactive, they have also been in use for several years without many significant impacts in terms of suicide prevention as evidenced by the increasing suicide prevalence which has pushed suicide to be among the top 20 leading causes of death world-wide (Schwartz–Lifshitz and Others 624). While many studies focus on understanding the factors that drive the tendency to suicide, there should be greater emphasis on strategies for the prevention of suicide. Understanding the coping strategies when faced with the stress that people who are not prone to suicidal thoughts ought to be evaluated more than they have been to determine how to help those that are not resilient or patient enough to implement the traditional methods. For instance, one can refer to the ethos, pathos, and logos considerations as a strategy to convince suicidal individuals to divert from their suicidal thoughts.
Ethos, Pathos, and Logos in Suicide Prevention
Defining suicide in the context of ethos calls for a consideration of the act of suicide as well as how suicide impacts the population. Various moral theories have distinguished between what is considered ethical and what is not based on different features of action. From the perspective of the deontological approach, an action is considered immoral if the action itself is wrong (Chonko 3). As such, suicide is wrong by virtue of this theory. From the religious viewpoint, taking the life of a human being, including self is wrong. Consequently, suicide is not right. Additionally, most national laws prohibit suicide, and an attempt to commit the act is punishable by law. Given the religious and civil laws on suicide, it is arguable that committing suicide is wrong. Schwartz–Lifshitz and Others (625) described the process of general public education as a measure for preventing suicide. This aligns perfectly with the application of ethos to the concept of suicide prevention in that while conducting the general education, the focus on training can be on the religious and civil aspects of law pertaining to suicide. If more people are educated to understand the implications of suicide in their lives, they would be more capable of avoiding suicidal thoughts. This would imply that the educators fulfill their duties towards the people by preventing harm, which is ethical by all standards.
The article also describes the implications of suicide from a social perspective. The descriptions given by Schwartz–Lifshitz and Others () can be likened to the impacts of the loss of a loved one on the lives of those who remain. The authors touch on issues such as depression and drug use as potential drivers towards suicide. From this perspective, the utilitarian perspective of ethics can be used as a principle for suicide prevention. Suits, describes death within the general context of pain and concludes that death is not painful to the person who dies (70). However, those who remain behind undergo a lot of pain as a result of the loss. Consequently, even though a person intending to commit suicide may feel comfortable with his or her decision, it is his relatives and friends that are affected by the decision. It then follows that since suicide affects many people negatively, it is ethically wrong. People should be implored to deviate from behaviors that tempt them to act in a manner that is contrary to religious and civil laws, and those that are harmful to many people. Those tempted to commit suicide should ask themselves whether they are ready to hurt those who love them and only benefit themselves.
The pain associated with suicide and the emotional turbulence that comes as a result of suicidal thoughts and their implementation can also be used to explain the irrationality of suicide. As much as one may feel hurt by circumstances, escaping the trap of suicidal thoughts may at times call for the affected individual to think more about the emotional impacts of his or her actions on others than of what he or she stands to gain by committing the act. The grief process can be extremely painful.
While weighing options to problem-solving, suicide should only be considered as a last resort. With the global annual suicide rates expected to rise to 1.5 million by 2020, the core question that people need to ask when faced with a seemingly insurmountable problem is whether there are absolutely no other probable solutions to the problem (“Suicide data”). Considering the nature of human problems, nothing has a single solution. This is where the application of logos comes in. This could explain why Schwartz–Lifshitz and Others (631-633) provide some of the seemingly rational methods including the use of pharmacotherapy to treat depression, psychotherapy, use of antidepressants, and electroconvulsive procedures in treating depressive symptoms. Such methods focus on proactive means of eliminating suicide drivers rather than waiting to address the problem when it arises. Logical problem solving considers solutions that are sustainable are of low opportunity costs, and which do not harm anyone. Based on these features, suicide does not seem like a useful solution to any problem.
The rate of suicide across the world has increased significantly in the recent years and is expected to augment even further in the next two years. Schwartz–Lifshitz and Others (624- 633) provided rationales for the prevention of suicide based on different arguments and identified causes of suicide. The same arguments can be adopted and applied within the concepts of ethos, pathos, and logos, and one can use them to implore people feeling suicidal to examine the rationale behind the action they are contemplating and find alternative solutions to their problems. It is imperative for society to be aware that suicide is unethical by virtue of the act itself as well as by its negative impacts on people and that the emotional impacts of suicide can have a domino effect. It is illogical to commit suicide when there are several other solutions to human problems that can be pursued.
Chonko, Larry. “Ethical theories.” DSEF, 2012. www.dsef.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/EthicalTheories.pdf. Accessed 9 Oct 2018.
Schwartz–Lifshitz, Maya, Zalsman, Gil, Giner, Lucas and Oquendo, Maria A. “Can we really prevent suicide.” Current Psychiatry Repository, vol. 14, no. 6, 2012, pp. 624-633. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3492539/
Suits, David B. “Why death is not bad for the one who died.” American Philosophical Quarterly, vol. 38, no. 1, 2001, pp. 69-84. www.jstor.org/stable/20010023?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents. Accessed 9 Oct 2018.
“Suicide data.” World Health Organization www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide/suicideprevent/en/. Accessed 9 Oct 2018.