Thoughts on Suicide

by Josiah Audette

SuicideThe famous Scottish atheistic philosopher, David Hume, wrote in favor of suicide. He said, “When I fall upon my own sword, I receive my death equally from the hands of the Deity, as if it had proceeded from a lion, a precipice, or a fever.”

William Plumer thoroughly refuted him:

If this sentence has any meaning, it is that the wilful, deliberate taking of our own lives is the same as dying by the providence of God, when he permits us to fall under the influence of pestilence, or of wild beasts. And if that is true, then we are no more criminal for killing a man than we are for seeing him die of fever.

The whole argument in favour of suicide goes on the supposition of the truth of the principles which are clearly false. 1, That man has the right to dispose of his own life; whereas none but the Author of our existence can lawfully do so; 2, That we are competent judges of the question whether we have lived long enough or not; whereas a large proportion of mankind have been very useful after they supposed they could do no more good; 3, That we owe no obligations to parents, or children, or others, who may be dependent upon our exertions; whereas we may entail upon them untold miseries by taking our own lives; 4, that God has not legislated on the subject; whereas the sixth commandment clearly forbids it; 5, that salvation is not an object worth seeking, whereas it is the only thing claiming our supreme attention; 6, That it is heroic to sink under distress or play the coward in suffering wrong; whereas a large part of the best moral lessons, taught by example, has been delivered to mankind in the depths of affliction.