Suicide: voluntary death and the recourse of its meaning

  With more outbreaks of the global new crown pneumonia epidemic, the number of deaths due to illness is increasing every day, and humankind is collectively caught in the fear of disease and death. What is more shocking is the suicide that did not die directly due to illness. The number of participants is also rising. In Italy, where the epidemic is severe, people not only have to bear the sad news of the death of a large number of critically ill patients, but also accept the reality of the death of medical staff due to infection or suicide: March 18, 2020, a job in Jesolo, Province of Venice The 49-year-old female nurse of the Infectious Diseases Department of the Administrative Hospital suddenly disappeared. She was found drowning in the river. On March 25, the nurse Daniela Trezi of the intensive care unit of the first hospital in Lombardy, Italy, committed suicide. At the age of 34, she was diagnosed with the new crown virus before her death. The spread of the epidemic has made these medical staff more stressed, and the lack of protective equipment has also made them worry that they will infect others, so they chose to commit suicide amidst internal and external anxiety. In addition to Italy, there have been several suicides in Germany: On March 28, 2020, Thomas Schaefer, the head of finance of the German state of Hessen, was found dead by the railroad tracks. It is reported that he was dealing with the new coronavirus. Suicide after “deeply worried” about the economic impact. Before that, some people in Germany committed suicide due to the new crown pneumonia: a citizen of Frankfurt chose to commit suicide because he did not want to endure the need to quarantine with his wife for 14 days. Before the death of death, the suicides rushed to the embrace of death, although their choice may be out of help, but it is really embarrassing.
  In fact, tens of thousands of people all over the world fantasize about solving problems through suicide every day, especially during the epidemic. A large part of the implementers have been ignored and forgotten forever because they have not been reported by the news media and have not attracted people’s attention. While almost everyone is working hard to survive, the suicide chooses to leave forever-and any criticism or condemnation of the suicide by the living is weaker and more useless.
  Perhaps we must admit that the 21st century is an era of freedom and expansion, and it is also an era of suicide. As early as 2008, Brian Mishara, President of the International Association for Suicide Prevention, declared: “There are more people who commit suicide every year in the world than in wars, terrorist attacks, and murders, and there are far more suicides than homicides. “The problem of suicide has become increasingly prominent, and it has become a social problem involving politics, economy, culture, religion, and family. It is also an important content of philosophy, law, medicine, sociology, psychology, psychiatry, and even theology. In this special period, it is necessary for us to re-understand what is “suicide”? What is the difference between “suicide” and “death”? What is the connection between “suicide” and “meaning of life”? How does literature express and resist suicide? -People who have the courage to face death have the courage to face the tribulations of life and the threat of disease.
  Throughout the ages, people who commit suicide in the world have committed suicide for many reasons. The methods of suicide are strange and the social impact and historical significance caused by them are also different. Liu Xiaofeng once wrote in the article “The Meaning of the Poet’s Suicide”: “Human civilization is undeniably advanced with the history of suicide and murder.” Human beings with limited life length can understand the desire to live forever. , But why do some people choose to commit suicide instead of living? This is a question worth pondering. Camus once asserted: “There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is worth experiencing is equivalent to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.” So, what is “suicide”?

Sir Thomas Brown

  From the perspective of etymology, the word “suicide” which means “suicide” in modern English is not present since ancient times. There is no direct recording and use of this word in Latin, but mostly based on the word mortem (death), which constitutes a new word or phrase to express the act of killing oneself actively. According to research, the word “suicide” in English was officially born as late as the mid-17th century. “It first appeared in the British philosopher Sir Thomas Browne (Sir Thomas Browne, 1605-1682), completed in 1636, first edition in 1642, and 1643. In the Latin book Religio Medici (Religio Medici), which was reprinted in 2000.” The author used suicide (printed as fuicide in 1643) for the first time when talking about Cato’s suicide: “(We should) highly praise Canada. Tu’s suicide, he is not afraid of death, but of life.” Marcus Porcius Cato Uticensis (95-46 BC) was a politician at the end of the Roman Republic. He used the sword because he was unwilling to accept the rule of Caesar. He committed suicide by caesarean section. After he was treated, he personally pulled out the intestines in his stomach and tore the wound. He died of breathlessness. The author hopes to distinguish between the suicides of unbelievers and the condemned suicides of Christians. “Suicide is composed of the Latin sui (self) and caedes (murder) as roots, and is used independently on the doubter. The English’suicide’ does not exist as a verb form. Suicide, as a substantive noun, must have a verb associated with it. Pairing: to commit suicide.” Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Taoism generally oppose suicide. Suicide was once regarded as an unforgivable crime.
  In German, the word for “suicide” is Selbstmord, “composed of the roots selbst (self) and Mord (murder), meaning Suizid and Freitod, meaning suicide and suicide.” Its common verb structure is: Selbstmord begehen, which is equivalent to sich tten or sich das Leben nehmen (he or she kills herself, sich is a reflexive pronoun), which means “to kill oneself”. In French, suicide was named Le suicide. Suicide, suicide, self-determination, self-harm, suicide, suicide, and short-sightedness are commonly used in Chinese to mean “suicide”. “Suicide” means “kill yourself”. In addition, Chinese vocabulary that specifically refers to a certain suicide method includes: self-hanging, self-clawing, self-drowning, self-drowning, drinking bombs, etc.
  Although the word “suicide” is written and used differently in different languages, the interpretation of its meaning is roughly similar. The definition of “suicide” in Encyclopedia Britannica is: “Suicide is the act of killing oneself voluntarily or deliberately. Since this definition does not explain the result of such an act, it is now often divided into fatal suicide and attempted suicide. Or non-fatal suicide.” At present, the more systematic concept of “suicide” comes from the famous French sociologist Emile Durkheim (Emile Durkheim, 1858-1917) published in 1897 “Suicide Theory: A Sociological Study” “(Le Suicide: étude de Sociologie), he first proposed the complete concept of “suicide” in the book: “Any positive or negative action that is done by the deceased himself and knows that it will produce this result, directly or indirectly Death caused by the earth is called suicide.” This concept emphasizes that the core of “suicide” is “to be done by the deceased himself” and “knowing that it will produce death results”, which changes the behavior of animal death from “suicide”. Excluded, because animals die out of instinct rather than consciously, and animals do not clearly know in advance that their actions will inevitably lead to death consequences. Durkheim believes that “suicide is not just a simple personal behavior, but a special social phenomenon, which is an individual’s response to a disintegrating society. According to the strength of the society’s personal relationship and control, suicide can be There are four types: egoist suicide (also translated as egoist suicide), altruistic suicide, anomie suicide, and fatalistic suicide.” Durkheim aims to expand the sociological level by studying the connection between suicide and society The suicide intervention methods and intervention mechanisms of the above, thereby saving more people’s lives.

  ”What is more special in human behavior than suicide?” As a “limited subject”, people must face the end of individual life-“It is in the sense of the end of the individual that death expresses the finiteness of life. “St. Augustine clearly revealed the inevitability of death. He believes that death is the only determinable thing in life. Death rules people. Everyone is mortal and mortal. The restraint of this subjective finiteness on the individual cannot be rejected, but people can complete this finiteness ahead of time through a special method-suicide, and gain active control of inevitable death (passive acceptance). It is in this sense that suicide embodies the autonomy and free will that a person possesses under the circumstance of subject finiteness.
  As Camus said, as a special act of death, “suicide” combines the most fundamental issues of life and philosophy. In fact, philosophers have been thinking about death and suicide for a long time: Socrates regarded death as a blessing and died by drinking poison and alcohol; Plato regarded the liberation of the soul as the greatest desire; Aristotle regarded it as life The “form” of the soul or spirit is more important than the body as the “material” of life; Pliny regards the power to commit suicide as a superior condition for people; Hume believes that “the laws of nature do not prohibit suicide” and people have suicide Right. But the Christian philosophers Thomas Aquinas and John Stewart Mill believed that people have no right to decide on their own lives and that suicide is an infringement on the divine God. Kant also opposes suicide in any form and reason. Schopenhauer believes that human life is a kind of pain and suffering. Since life is not as good as death, “life by death” is the best choice. In Voltaire’s view, barbarians would never dream of getting rid of boredom of life by suicide. The idea of ​​getting rid of life by suicide is the essence of human civilization. Rousseau also holds a similar view. Montaigne affirmed the rationality of suicide in his “Essay Collection”: “The saint lives as long as he loves to live, not as long as he can live.” “Alive” means obedience to the set time of life, and “love to live.” It is full of human consciousness: “Life depends on the will of good fortune; death depends only on our own will.”
  Feuerbach also affirmed the autonomy of man’s will towards his own life when he demonstrated the nature of death: “There is such a thing in the will (pure, uncertain) factor, that is, I can learn from everything. To liberate oneself, eliminate all goals, and be free from everything. Only man can give up everything, even his own life: only man can commit suicide.” Thus, death as an active choice is the same as death by suicide. The fundamental difference in death lies in whether it has autonomy and selectivity-suicide is the free choice of the suicide, and is the embodiment of human free will and subjective spirit: “Suicide is the supreme proof that human free will is higher than blind destiny.” “Suicide is the highest proof of freedom, that is, to decide one’s own survival or death.” “Suicide is a concentrated display of man’s essential power.” Most people may not understand those who are keen to discuss life and death and take the initiative to commit suicide, but in the Christian cultural concept , God created man, not necessarily everyone must and can only want to live. Therefore, Montesquieu’s thesis that “people can return non-favored lives” reflects his recognition of suicidal behavior, and also provides reasons and basis for suicide for many suicides.


  The philosopher Kafka also clarified the inevitability of death in the fable “The Hunter Grahus”. After Grahus died unexpectedly, his ghost wandered around, unable to enter heaven or reach the other side of the world for a long time. However, he deeply understood that death will come sooner or later: “I am here now, I don’t know anything else. There is nothing else I can do. My boat has no rudder and can only follow the wind blowing to the bottom of death.” Therefore, the mortality of human beings is the inevitability of death. Everyone enjoys life all the time, and all the time. Close to death; while acknowledging that “living” is a human attribute, we have to admit that “living” is also a human attribute, and the two have natural opposition and unity. In the face of universal and inevitable “death”, individuals as individuals are passive and powerless, so “dying” means “being dead”; while suicides try to defeat “being dead” by “killing themselves” His fortune and destiny, to end the process of “dying” in a more active and direct way, speed up the speed of falling into the abyss of death, and put an end to his life. This active pursuit of “death” means the active end of “live”, so “suicide” has become a shortcut to death.
  However, we still have to ask ourselves: Is there any meaning in life? Is life worth experiencing? “To be or not to be?” The essence of “Hamlet’s Question” is whether to commit suicide. The reason why “suicide” has become a problem that philosophers and writers focus on thinking and discussing is that there is a close relationship between “suicide” and “meaning of life”, and this relationship is very complicated and difficult to distinguish. To put it simply, suicides often have two extreme views on “there is no meaning in life”: 1. Life is meaningless at all; 2. Life has a very definite meaning.
  Some people are confused about life and think that people will die eventually and life is meaningless, so they choose to commit suicide to end all this meaninglessness. Conversely, some people think that “suicides are often certain of the meaning of life”, and that such suicides take the initiative to die with their firm beliefs. Most of the people who are intertwined between these two types of people are in doubt and uneasy. Because of their doubts, they have been seeking or indifferent, so they will not consider suicide. However, there are also some doubters who cannot bear the existence of “being” and Wandering between “nothing”, contradictory, and finally defeated in the wavering hesitation, knocked on the door of death.
  Judging whether the suicide behavior of the suicide is meaningful, in the final analysis is determined by the suicide motivation of the suicide, which is the starting point of the suicide. The motive of suicide is spiritual good, and the result of suicide is also good. This type of suicide is generally considered to be meaningful. As George Minova said, heroic suicide presents a sublime beauty: “Heroes make the most lofty sacrifices, the only way to make up for insulting mistakes or mistakes that can be made up by non-human forces. By suicide They have surpassed the limitations of death, and have been sublimated to a realm higher than that of a very human being.” For example, the suicides of King Saul, Judge Samson, and Son of Saul Simon in Hebrew culture are typical heroic suicides. Generally speaking, cowardly, evasive, and selfish suicidal behaviors will not be recognized, while face-to-face, altruistic suicidal behaviors will be considered glorious and worthy of praise. For example, the Japanese insist that “using appropriate methods to commit suicide can wash away the stigma and win praise behind them. They respect suicide and regard suicide as a glorious and meaningful behavior. Japanese people like the theme of suicide, just like Americans. The book special book crime is the same, both feel the same personal feeling about it. Compared with killing others, they relish suicide. To borrow Bacon’s words, they regard suicide as their favorite irritating event (flagrant case). Talking about suicide can get some kind of satisfaction that other topics can’t get.” Due to the Japanese people’s admiration of fleeting beauty and the influence of the aesthetic tradition of “things mourning”, Japan has become a country where suicide aesthetics prevail, such as the Bushido suicide culture (cesarean suicide), famous writers Yukio Mishima and Yasunari Kawabata. And so on personally practiced suicide.

  If it is recognized that human civilization is indeed accompanied by the history of suicide and killing, then human literature cannot be denied that it has occurred and developed with the description of suicide and killing: the hero in “Iliad” Aias died of suicide, Jesus Christ in the “Bible·New Testament” voluntarily suffered, Judas hanged himself, Witte shot and killed himself in “The Troubles of Young Witte”, and Faust was suicidal in “Faust” , Emma committed suicide by taking arsenic in “Mrs. Bovary”, Anna committed suicide by lying on rails in “Anna Karenina”, the suicide of Second Sister You and Third Sister You in “Dream of Red Mansions”, and Mu Yue, in “Norwegian Forest” Naoko’s suicide. Most of the characters in Shakespeare’s plays also committed suicide: Hamlet was eager for suicide, Ophelia committed suicide, Romeo and Juliet both committed suicide by poisoning, Anthony killed himself by suffocating, and Cleopatra killed himself by a poisonous snake. , Othello drew his sword after strangling Desdemona… Obviously, from the history of world literature, a heavy “history of suicide literature” can be compiled.

“Suicide” by Edward Manet

“The Death of Socrates”

  At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the sad and desperate mood of the end of the century enveloped the land of Europe. Suicide can be seen everywhere, and the suicide rate in society has risen significantly. “Suicide” has not only become an important issue that many writers pay attention to and describe, but also became the outlet they tried to choose. . Therefore, “in literary history and literary criticism, suicide is one of the most controversial issues. It often becomes the most concerned issue of writers and biographers, because many writers have ended their lives by suicide.” Such as Mariano, Kleist, Woolf, Hemingway, Mayakovsky, Yesenin, Zweig, Benjamin and so on. In fact, the hope led by others is like a ladder. With this hope, it will unconsciously produce and move toward another hope. Poets and singers who commit suicide are the creators of hope, and what starts with him will eventually end with him. The so-called “hope” for them is to be able to bury their own depression and pain, and appear in the hope world of others with a face of wanton laughter. When the burial moves toward division, when the division reaches its limit, when the thirst for death exceeds the hope of life, suicide is inevitable. However, as Brownshaw said, suicide is inaccessible, and death is not something we can reach anyway, and even suicide attempts are futile. Writing, writing poems, and devoting yourself to literature is truly close to death. The death of the poet can also be regarded as a poem in its essence. The poet Yan Li wrote in the poem “Sunny Sunday”: “Saturday’s sun is shining/we sit in the outdoor cafe in the afternoon/we talk about death/talk about travel/talk about suicide/talk about World to another world/Talking about suicide after going to another world/After committing suicide again, they return to this world. “Can those neglected and forgotten suicides who commit suicide once commit suicide really return to this world? Maybe not necessarily.
  Although Kafka did not die by suicide, he had thought of suicide more than once, and he had a deep understanding and thinking about suicide, and he arranged for the protagonist in his works to commit suicide repeatedly. Kafka frequently mentioned the word “suicide” in his diaries and letters. In his carefully constructed literary kingdom, “death” is almost the most prominent theme, and death due to suicide occupies an important position. Kafka has created images of suicides with different personalities in many novels. Most of them committed suicide because of irreconcilable contradictions with their society. These autobiographical expressions and literary imaginations reflect Kafka’s own views on suicide. Thinking and examining. In a conversation with Gustav Janosz, Kafka believed that suicide is a form of excessive egoism (egoism): “A person can only throw away what he really possesses. We can take suicide Seen as excessively absurd egoism, an egoism that thinks it has the right to use the power of God, but in fact there is no power at all, because there is no power. Suicides just commit suicide because of incompetence. He has no abilities. He has lost everything. He is now going to take the last thing he possessed. To do this, he doesn’t need any power. It is enough to despair and give up all hope. This is not a risk. Continuing, devoting oneself to life, on the surface it seems to live a carefree day by day, but in fact this is a brave act of taking risks.”

“The Plague”

  In the definition of “Suicide” (Selbstm·rder), Kafka wrote: “The suicide is such a prisoner. He saw people erect a gallows in the prison yard. He mistakenly Thinking it was for him, he broke out of the cell at night, walked down, and hanged himself. ——1918.1.25”. Almost every suicide in Kafka’s works carries this kind of “misunderstanding” and “absurdity”, such as Georg committed suicide in The Judgment, Gregor in The Metamorphosis, and The Hunger Artist. The artist who died on a hunger strike in “In the Exile” and the tragic death of an officer who took the initiative to commit to a killing machine in “In Exile” are all in line with this type of “judgment + consecration” suicide characteristics. However, although Kafka had rich fantasy and design of his own way of death, he did not put it into practice. Instead, he devoted himself to literature and writing, and resisted several suicides from childhood to adulthood with stronger writing ideas. Idea. From this point of view, it is important to choose a reason for our existence in the world.
  As Camus predicted in “The Plague”, “Even if the plague passes, things that threaten joy will always exist.”-For example, human suicidal desire and suicidal behavior. The approach and outbreak of the plague is only temporary. Humans will be free from the epidemic, but the emergence of suicidal ideation and the generation of suicidal impulses are nightmares that we can never get rid of. Therefore, how to make more people free from suicide dilemma is particularly important. Important. We should believe that it is more difficult to live bravely than to go away. We must have the confidence to choose. Once we choose, we must have the courage to persevere and be responsible for our choices. We should admire those who suffer from depression but did not choose to commit suicide. They may have wanted to commit suicide from childhood to adulthood and even today, but in the end they persisted. Although in the end it may be as Mu Dan said, “but not to complete an ordinary life”, but at least found the meaning of “uncommon” in the place of “ordinary”…