Suicide is the act of killing oneself.
- A brave man once requested me
To answer questions that are key
Is it to be or not to be
And I replied oh why ask me
- That suicide is painless
It brings so many changes
And I can take or leave them if I please
- Song from M*A*S*H (Suicide Is Painless) lyrics by Mike Altman.
- Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
- Anonymous widely used expression, used by many authors, it appears at least as early as in Death and Dying (1979) in the Social Issues Resources Series, Vol. 1, p. 35.
- But if there be an hereafter,
And that there is, conscience, uninfluenc'd
And suffer'd to speak out, tells every man,
Then must it be an awful thing to die;
More horrid yet to die by one's own hand.
- Robert Blair, The Grave (1743), line 398.
- Our time is fixed, and all our days are number'd;
How long, how short, we know not:—this we know,
Duty requires we calmly wait the summons,
Nor dare to stir till Heaven shall give permission.
- Robert Blair, The Grave (1743), line 417.
- The common damn'd shun their society.
- Robert Blair, The Grave (1743), referring to suicides in Hell. Attributed to Lamb, but not found in his works.
- Don't commit suicide, because you might change your mind two weeks later.
- Art Buchwald, in a humorous personal mantra he used to combat his states of depression, published in Too Soon to Say Goodbye (2006).
- The man who kills a man, kills a man. The man who kills himself, kills all men. As far as he is concerned he wipes out the world.
- G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (1908).
- Fool! I mean not
That poor-souled piece of heroism, self-slaughter;
Oh no! the miserablest day we live
There's many a better thing to do than die!
- George Darley, Ethelstan (1841).
- Death is before me today
Like the recovery of a sick man …
Like the longing of a man to see his home again
After many years of captivity …
- "Dispute between a man and his Ba", Egypt, ca. 2100 BCE.
- Who doubting tyranny, and fainting under
Fortune's false lottery, desperately run
To death, for dread of death; that soul's most stout,
That, bearing all mischance, dares last it out.
- John Fletcher, The Honest Man's Fortune (1613; published 1647), Act IV, scene 1.
- If suicide be supposed a crime, it is only cowardice can impel us to it. If it be no crime, both prudence and courage should engage us to rid ourselves at once of existence when it becomes a burden. It is the only way that we can then be useful to society, by setting an example which, if imitated, would preserve every one his chance for happiness in life, and would effectually free him from all danger or misery.
- David Hume, Essay on Suicide (c. 1755).
- Even suicidal behavior might serve a design function. A small minority of researchers believe that we may have evolved to, under the right conditions, try to kill ourselves. Edward Hagen, an anthropologist at Washington State University, is one of the most vocal supporters of this idea, and he presented fresh support for it in the May 2016 issue of Evolution and Human Behavior. He and two WSU collaborators, Kristen Syme and Zachary Garfield, set out to find evidence for two models of suicidal behavior, each of which cast suicide as a strategic behavior.
The first model is called inclusive fitness, and it relies on the notion of the “selfish gene”: The most basic unit of reproduction in natural selection is not the individual organism but the gene. Your genes don’t care if you survive to reproduce, as long as they do, and they exist in more people than just you. So they might lead you, their host organism, to sacrifice yourself if it sufficiently benefits your family members, who share many of your genes. Hence, people seek to maximize not only their own fitness but, inclusively, that of their kin too. Most parents would decide in an instant to jump in front of a bus to save their children. And in studies of suicidal thinking, people frequently speak about not wanting to be a burden.
The second strategic model of suicidality is the bargaining model, which relies on the notion of “costly signaling.”6 A colorful example of costly signaling is the peacock. Managing a big, eye-catching tail is costly, in that it wastes energy and draws predators. But the fitter a peacock, the less costly a big tail, and so big tails have evolved to signal genetic fitness to peahens. They are attractive not despite their costliness but because of it. In addition to communicating fitness, costly signals can also communicate need. Consider baby birds. They don’t need to chirp for food if their mother is right there, and chirping attracts predators, making it costly. But the more hungry or sickly a chick is, the less it has to lose by being eaten, and the more it has to gain by being fed. So chirping louder is an honest signal of greater need for food, and the mother responds. (Anthropologists and psychiatrists have long framed suicide attempts as cries for help, but considered them pathological forms of pleading rather than the results of context-sensitive and evolved cost-benefit analyses.) Whereas the goal of suicidality in the inclusive fitness model is death, the goal in the bargaining model is help. Crucially, the vast majority of suicide attempts are not fatal.
- Suicide evokes revulsion with horror, because everything in nature seeks to preserve itself: a damaged tree, a living body, an animal; and in man, then, is freedom, which is the highest degree of life, and constitutes the worth of it, to become now a principium for self-destruction? This is the most horrifying thing imaginable. For anyone who has already got so far as to be master, at any time, over his own life, is also master over the life of anyone else; for him, the door stands open to every crime, and before he can be seized he is ready to spirit himself away out of the world. So suicide evokes horror, in that a man thereby puts himself below the beasts. We regard a suicide as a carcase, whereas we feel pity for one who meets his end through fate.
Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain …
- John Keats in "Ode to a Nightingale".
- Just as in a drama, by shortening the time and condensing the events, one is enabled to see the content of many years in the course of a few hours, so also one wants to arrange oneself dramatically within temporality. God’s plan for existence is rejected, so that temporality is entirely development, complication-eternity the denouement. Everything is arranged within temporality, a score of years devoted to development, then ten years, and then the denouement follow. Undeniably death is also a denouement, and then it is over, one is buried-yet not before the denouement of decomposition has begun. But anyone who refuses to understand that the whole of one’s life should be the time of hope is veritably in despair, no matter, absolutely no matter, whether he is conscious of it or not, whether he counts himself fortunate in his presumed well-being or wears himself out in tedium and trouble. Anyone who gives up the possibility that his existence could be forfeited in the next moment-provided he does not give up this possibility because he hopes for the possibility of the good, anyone who lives without possibility is in despair. He breaks with the eternal and arbitrarily puts an end to possibility; without the consent of eternity, he ends where the end is not, instead of, like someone who is taking dictation, continually having his pen poised for what comes next, so that he does not presume meaninglessly to place a period before the meaning is complete or rebelliously to throw away his pen.
- Soren Kierkegaard Works of Love, 1847, Hong 1995 p. 251-252
- A low serotonin level . . . can dry up the wellsprings of life’s happiness, withering a person’s interest in his existence and increasing the risk of depression and suicide.
- Ronald Kutulak, in his book Inside the Brain. Cited in Awake! magazine, 10/22 2001.
- While foulest fiends shun thy society.
- Nathaniel Lee, The Rival Queens (1677), V, I, 86.
- Ah, yes, the sea is still and deep,
All things within its bosom sleep!
A single step, and all is o'er,
A plunge, a bubble, and no more.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Christus, The Golden Legend (1872), Part V.
- When Fannius from his foe did fly
Himself with his own hands he slew;
Who e'er a greater madness knew?
Life to destroy for fear to die.
- Martial, Epigrams (c. AD 86-103), Book II. 80. Same idea in Antiphanes—Fragment. Comicorum Græcorum, p. 567. Meineke's ed.
That kills himself to avoid misery, fears it,
And, at the best, shows but a bastard valour.
This life's a fort committed to my trust,
Which I must not yield up till it be forced:
Nor will I. He's not valiant that dares die,
But he that boldly bears calamity.
- Philip Massinger, The Maid of Honour, (c. 1621; printed 1632), Act IV, scene 3.
- If you like not hanging, drown yourself;
Take some course for your reputation.
- Philip Massinger, A New Way to pay Old Debts (1625), Act II, scene 1.
- Suicide is a private thing.
- Heather McNamara, Heathers.
- Suicide kills two people. That's what it's for.
- Referring to the guilt and grief close surviving dependents feel after a suicide
- Arthur Miller, After the Fall.
Suicide is not a solution
But it remains an excellent option
- I do not think life will change for the better without an assault on the establishment, which goes on exploiting the wretched of the earth. This belief lies at the heart of the concept of revolutionary suicide. Thus it is better to oppose the forces that would drive me to self-murder than to endure them. Although I risk the likelihood of death, there is at least the possibility, if not the probability, of changing intolerable conditions.
- Revolutionary suicide does not mean that I and my comrades have a death wish; it means just the opposite. We have such a strong desire to live with hope and human dignity that existence without them is impossible. When reactionary forces crush us, we must move against these forces, even at the risk of death.
- The people will win a new world. Yet when I think of individuals in the revolution, I cannot predict their survival. Revolutionaries must accept this fact. ... Some see our struggle as a symbol of the trend toward suicide among Blacks. Scholars and academics, in particular, have been quick to make this accusation. They fail to perceive differences. Jumping off a bridge is not the same as moving to wipe out the overwhelming force of an oppressive army. When scholars call our actions suicidal, they should be logically consistent and describe all historical revolutionary movements in the same way. Thus the American colonialists, the French of the late eighteenth century, the Russians of 1917, the Jews of Warsaw, the Cubans, the NLF, the North Vietnamese—any people who struggle against a brutal and powerful force—are suicidal.
- It's in our nature to kill ourselves.
- Papa Roach, "Blood Brothers"
Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp;
Guns aren't lawful;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.
- Dorothy Parker, "Resume" (1926).
- Consider this point carefully: nowadays, suicide is just a way of disappearing. It is carried out timidly, quietly, and falls flat. It is no longer an action, only a submission.
- Cesare Pavese, diary entry, 1936-04-24, in This Business of Living: Diaries 1935-1950
- Here's the difficulty about suicide: it is an act of ambition that can be committed only when one has passed beyond ambition.
- La difficoltà di commettere suicidio sta in questo: è un atto di ambizione che si può commettere solo quando si sia superata ogni ambizione.
- Cesare Pavese, This Business of Living, 1938-01-16
- No one ever lacks a good reason for suicide.
- Cesare Pavese, This Business of Living, 1938-03-23
- The act—the act—must not be a revenge. It must be a calm, weary renunciation, a closing of accounts, a private, rhythmic deed. The last remark.
- Cesare Pavese, This Business of Living, 1950-05-10
- Suicides are timid murderers. Masochism instead of Sadism.
- Cesare Pavese, This Business of Living, 1950-08-17
- My duty will be to continue to endeavor to do the work I seem to have been put into the world to do; and when the moment arrives at which there seems to be no rational hope of making my life useful, my duty, as I see it, will be to treat my life just as I would an aching tooth that there was no hope of making useful. I will have it out.
is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.
- Sylvia Plath, "Lady Lazarus".
- Some people might say, I have a right to die, when they are arguing the case for suicide. And while this is true, it is also true that the people on your planet need every bit of help and encouragement they can get from each person alive. In a certain sense, the energy of each individual does keep the world going, and to commit suicide is to refuse a basic, cooperative venture.
- Jane Roberts, in The Way Toward Health (1997) p. 265
- We cannot tear out a single page from our life, but we can throw the whole book into the fire.
- George Sand, Mauprat (1837).
- Bravest at the last,
She levell'd at our purposes, and, being royal,
Took her own way.
- Against self-slaughter
There is a prohibition so divine
That cravens my weak hand.
- To be, or not to be,—that is the question:—
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?—To die, to sleep,—
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to,—'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;—
To sleep, perchance to dream:—ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despis'd love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would these fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,—
The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns,—puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know naught of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought;
And enterprises of great pith and moment,
With this regard, their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.
- The more pity that great folk should have countenance in this world to drown or hang themselves, more than their even Christian.
- Therein, ye gods, you make the weak most strong; Therein, ye gods, you tyrants do defeat: Nor stony tower, nor walls of beaten brass, Nor airless dungeon, nor strong links of iron, Can be retentive to the strength of spirit; But life, being weary of these worldly bars, Never lacks power to dismiss itself.
- He that cuts off twenty years of life
Cuts off so many years of fearing death.
- The man, who in a fit of melancholy, kills himself today, would have wished to live had he waited a week.
- Voltaire, "Cato", Philosophical Dictionary (1764).
- There is no refuge from confession but suicide; and suicide is confession.
- Daniel Webster, Argument on the Murder of Captain White (April 6, 1830).
- Britannia's shame! There took her gloomy flight,
On wing impetuous, a black sullen soul…
Less base the fear of death than fear of life.
O Britain! infamous for suicide.
- Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night V, line 436.