Is counseling ready for rational suicide? A study of perceived competence

Many counselors believe suicidal ideation in a terminally ill client can be rational (Rogers et al, 2001). One hundred and fifty-three counselors rated their perceived competence to counsel individuals who are rationally suicidal. Data were analyzed with non-parametric statistics. Findings suggest participants with more education, more years of service, and more experience with terminally ill […]

Can suicide be a good death?

The issue of whether suicide can be a good death was separated into two different questions: (1) can suicide be an appropriate death, and (2) can suicide be a rational death? Several definitions of an “appropriate” death were proposed, and suicide was seen as potentially appropriate. Similarly, several criteria for rationality were proposed and suicide […]

Suicide is neither rational or irrational.

Richard Brandt, following Hume, famously argued that suicide could be rational. In this he was going against a common ‘absolutist’ view that suicide is irrational almost by definition. Arguments to the effect that suicide is morally permissible or prohibited tend to follow from one’s position on this first issue of rationality. I want to argue […]

The suicidal animal: Science and the nature of self-destruction

Discussion of animal self-destruction during the early nineteenth century was structured by, and perpetuated, the Romantic view that suicide was a rational and even noble escape from intolerable circumstances. Popular accounts generally concerned animals that intentionally ended their lives to escape hopeless danger or human mistreatment

Suicide: Rationality and responsibility for life.

There is much debate about whether suicide can ever be rational. Designating suicide as an undesirable event that should never occur raises the debate of who is responsible for one’s life and runs the risk of erroneously attributing blame for suicide. While upholding patient rights of autonomy in psychiatric care is laudable, cases of suicidality […]

Introduction (IN: Assessment, Treatment, and Prevention of Suicidal Behavior, edited by R I Yufit & D Lester)

This introductory chapter outlines the content of the three sections of this book. In Part One, empirically based assessment techniques that measure important mood states, personality traits, & attitudes associated with suicidal behaviour are examined. Part Two compares several different approaches for conducting psychotherapy with suicidal clients. The final section presents issues of special relevance […]

Early Dementia Diagnosis and the Risk of Suicide and Euthanasia

The authors performed a selective literature review of suicide in persons with dementia & the ethical issues associated with euthanasia in this population. In the absence of any effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia, there is already evidence that persons with mild cognitive change & early dementia are at risk of […]

Differentiating Suicide From Life-Ending Acts and End-of-Life Decisions: a Model Based on Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis

The authors proposed a four-square grid distinguishing true suicide from behaviours such as treatment termination & lethal noncompliance. One axis characterizes whether actions hasten death. The other identifies how the patient’s social & medical network collaborate in the decision-making process. Using chronic kidney disease to model intent & collaboration, treatment is framed within a paradigm […]

Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior (IN: Death and Dying, Life and Living 3rd. Edition, by C A Corr, C M Nabe, & D M Corr)

This chapter begins with brief descriptions of the suicides of Ernest Hemingway & Sylvia Plath in order to introduce the issues that follow. The authors then seek to clarify the meaning of suicide & life-threatening behaviour, & sketch some common patterns in this behaviour. Next, they describe efforts to explain suicidal behaviour or, more precisely, […]

Elderly Suicide: Causes and Prevention Strategies (IN: Elderly Alcoholism: Intervention Strategies by M Beechem)

This chapter reviews the high rate of suicide among older people, especially older, white alcoholics. Common suicidal situations were examined including depression, widowhood, chronic health problems, & alcoholism. Different types of suicide were identified including physician-assisted suicide & rational suicide. Explanations for the growing support for these practices are offered. Factors contributing to high suicidality […]

A Death of One’s Own (IN: The Politics of Deviance, by A Hendershott)

Suicide has traditionally been viewed as a deviant act because it contributes to a climate in which individual life is devalued. Yet, as the author argues in this chapter, the line between suicide that is viewed as being justified (e.g. a person with a terminal illness) & suicide that is for the wrong reasons (e.g. […]

Permission to Suicide

The presenter made a philosophical exploration of basic issues in suicide prevention. The first question posed was whether suicide is ever rational. The discussion then moved to whether or not a counsellor should intervene; it is asserted the therapist has a duty to intervene if there are signs of ambivalence. The discussion ended with thoughts […]

Should we try to Prevent Suicide?

This presentation discussed when suicide prevention is morally permissible. It was suggested there are two situations when intervention should occur: when the suicidal act is immoral (this sort of prevention is said to be sometimes justified); or, secondly, when it is against an individual’s (or someone else’s) interests & the individual is not responsible for […]

Moral Perspectives on the Prevention of Suicide in Mental Health Settings


The Suffering of Suicide: the Victim and Family Considered (IN: The Hidden Dimension of Illness: Human Suffering, ed. by P L Starck and J P McGovern)

Permitted Suicide: Model Rules for Mental Health Counseling

Please see SIEC #2003-0109 for another article by this author on this subject.



Self-determined Death, the Physician, and Medical Priorities: is There Time to Talk?

Can Suicide be a Good Death?

The issue of whether suicide can be a good death was separated into 2 different questions: 1) can suicide be an appropriate death, & 2) can suicide be a rational death? Several definitions of an appropriate death were proposed & suicide was seen as potentially appropriate. Similarly, several criteria for rationality were proposed & suicide […]

Can Suicide be a Good Death? A Reply

In Lester’s reply to Feldman & Leenaars, he asserts their commentaries are less than persuasive insofar as they are grounded in an arbitrary & potentially inappropriate advocacy of communal rather than individual values, in unproven assumptions about the constricted & illogical reasoning of suicidal persons, in an implicit equation of their acts with sins, &/or […]

The Final Freedom: Suicide and the ‘New Prohibitionists’

Please see SIEC #2003-0344 for the article from “Scientific American”.

Ethical Dilemmas in Participatory Action Research: a Case Study From the Disability Community


The Constitutional Right to Suicide: a Legal and Philosophical Examination

This book argues for the judicial recognition of a constitutional right to suicide which would protect the right of the individual – at least under certain circumstances – to terminate his or her own existence.