No Banzai allowed
Should the state forcibly stop a person from committing suicide?
Its from a page I dogeared in Against Empathy by Paul Bloom. I cock my head to one side (willing the brain cell to roll from one end to the other)…
Its the sort of question I feel that needs a hot bath, a snifter of Cognac and a Romeo y Julieta #3. Although the last time I did this I was so fucked I struggled to get out of the bath and when I did eventually (very unceremoniously) haul my carcass over the side I slipped almost hitting my head on the edge of the sink. (How did Winston Churchill not die like this I wonder?) [The answer to this is that Winston Churchill was a god… and could not be killed by mortal means, the Keith Richards of his era]
Lying on my bathroom floor, the darkness fading in, I might have reflected that this was quite an ignominious way to go. And not at all the way I imagined it. (which would, in an ideal world, be to the clarion call of ‘Affix bayonets’, followed by a short-lived sprint and a suitably spectacular Banzai-esque moment)
I’m not really a fan of suicide. (other than the aforementioned exception)
MOSTLY this is because, once upon a time, I had to sit in a two hour traffic jam because someone climbed onto a bridge and wanted to hurl themselves into the cars below. I was very grouchy about the whole thing. And the cost of the resources brought to bear… bare… *considers for a moment*… bear… to talk this person down seemed deeply disproportionate to the value of this (annoying) persons life.
I know… look at me assigning value. You have no idea how angry I was though… still, likely less angry than if said jumper had entered my Jeep* via the roof panel at velocity. If he wasn’t dead, and I wasn’t dead, I feel I would have quite easily and without much remorse helped him find his way to Hades. (I would have even paid his fare)
*Those modular Wrangler roof sections are basically giant plastic cooler box lids with a deflection rating of… if not zero, pretty close to it.
As an aside I do miss my Jeep. (despite it being the least practical car in the history of the world)
The libertarian in me obviously gets all riled up with this question, words like STATE and FORCIBLY immediately get me triggered (with ten point rise in systolic)
I think about it for a while. I mean… I am sort of a minarchist (which is like libertarian lite, although amongst true adherents of the ideology there are likely worse terms). And I wouldn’t mind if there was someone (with some sort of mandate) to deal with a public safety issue (in so far as a bridge jumper could be endangering other people) and I wouldn’t mind (voluntarily) paying for such a service… but if someone went out into a field, dug a hole and then shot themselves in the head and then paid someone to come and fill in the hole… and no property rights were being infringed… and it was a pretty deep hole… maybe pre-lined with lye… I don’t think I’d want the state to interfere. (or anyone else for that matter)
I guess it comes down to your views on body autonomy. If you want to end your life in a controlled, mess free, manner, (like visiting a suicide clinic) I don’t really have an issue with that. Its your circus, and if you want to hit the off button, who am I to disagree. The state should just mind its own business.
On the flip side there are obviously people who wanted to kill themselves who were prevented from doing so, and are now very grateful that someone forcibly stopped them, be that an agent of the state or some goody-two-shoes.
I muse that my intervention-ness would depend on the sort of day I’m having, I might (try) talk you down. Or… tell you to hurry the fuck up about it. ‘Come on, chop, chop’. Although truthfully my action or inaction is likely more dependent on our Venn/tribe overlap. And/or how pretty you are. Probably more likely to help someone aesthetically pleasing I decide, academically speaking.
Having said that, the statistics for people jumping to subway tracks to save someone who has fallen… or who has jumped, when they only have a split second to make that decision makes my nihilistic prater less of a concrete assertion. There is clearly some interesting code in our brain that makes us behave, not pragmatically, under certain circumstances.
We are moving away from the question though.
I am gonna have to go with ‘No’. The state shouldn’t intervene in your designs to off yourself. Unless those designs put others at risk. Which, these sorts of machinations often seem to do.
In any event. (Apparently) I’m all about suicide. In other people. That I don’t know. Who do it far away from me. And maybe bequeath me their cash, jewelry. And (maybe) works of art.
No monkey NFTs tho. Or shitcoins. Which might be the reason you want to kill yourself. Which… well… I mean we all make mistakes right?