“Suicide and Communal Values: Ethical Implications for Psychiatrists,” by Ronald W. Pies, MD
January 27, 2014
The article is behind a pay wall, but here are some highlights:
[T]he ethical status of suicide is not a question that psychiatrists can ignore, any more than we can ignore human values in general.
Recently, the moral status of suicide has been scrutinized by the poet and philosopher Jennifer Michael Hecht in her book Stay: A History of Suicide and the Philosophies Against It. …In essence, Hecht argues that suicide cannot be evaluated solely in terms of "personal autonomy," as some modern ethicists might claim; rather, we must hold suicide up to the clarifying light of communal values.
Hecht argues that "when a person kills himself, he does wrenching damage to the community." In general, I agree -- and this damage, arguably, may be counted among the "moral harms" of deliberate self-destruction.
[T]he communitarian argument made by Hecht is compelling.
As an ethicist, I largely agree with Jennifer Hecht, that suicide's communal damage is a compelling reason to urge our suicidal loved ones to stay, and respectfully to suggest that life isn't too hard to bear -- only, as Hecht poignantly puts it, "almost too hard to bear."