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Home Life Ethics Suicide LEE SAU KUEN: Suicide – A Matter of Life and Death
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Monday, 19 May 2014 15:12

Suicide – A Matter of Life and Death

Referee: Dr. Benedict Kwok

Anthor: LEE SAU KUEN

1. Introduction

As French existentialist Albert Camus stated, “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide – judging whether life is worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.” [1] Suicide has been an overarching concern in recent decades; mainly due to the rise of suicide rate in particular groups including teenagers and elderly. A wide spectrum of disciplines, ranging from sociology, psychology to philosophy, has made endeavour to examine this thorny issue.

The causes, circumstances and aftermath of suicide are much more complex than is often thought. Suicide elicits emotions and reactions in those affected by the death. Although it presents the illusion of being a solitary act, it leads to enduring consequences for many in reality. [2]

In light of this complexity, the purpose of this paper is to unravel suicide from different perspectives. It begins with a brief analysis on the recent statistics with specific regard to Hong Kong and China. It will then go on to explore the significant moral issues and ethical concerns shaping the stance on suicide. A thorough theological reflection based on Scripture and biblical principles will be made in order to put forward invaluable advice pertinent to pastoral care.

2. Statistics on suicide

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1,000 persons per day committed suicide in 1974. In the year 2000, approximately one million people died from suicide, or one death every forty seconds. In the last forty years, suicide rates have increased by sixty percent worldwide. Suicide is now among the three leading causes of death among those aged fifteen to forty-four years. [3]

There were 750 and 841 suicide incidences in 2011 and 2012 respectively. The rate in Hong Kong has remained at around 13.0 to 14.0 per 100,000 people since 2006. Although the Hong Kong suicide rate is still at about the world average, it is higher than that of the US (10.0), UK (7.0) and Australia (11.0). Higher suicide prevalence was noted in males and suicide rate among the elderly has been on the rise which was the highest among all age groups. The problem of youth suicidality also deserves our attention as the media’s heavy and sensational coverage may reinforce and stereotype suicidal behavior. [4]

In 2009, almost one third of suicides in the world are in China. About 280,000 people, 80 percent of them from rural areas, commit suicide in mainland China each year. The notable higher suicide rate in rural areas may be due to the impoverished living condition and insufficient access to mental health care. Apart from it, China has entered a period of urbanization and social transformation which has brought tremendous impact on rural areas. [5] Considering other social factors, the soaring of youth suicides could be related to the implementation of one child policy which has caused grave stress for young person in different spheres of society. [6]

Facing the alarming trend, the phenomenon is no exception in Christian community. The suicide of Rick Warren's son Matthew has brought the controversial issues of mental health, depression, and suicide to limelight again. It has been found that 54 percent of Americans said churches should make effort to prevent suicide. [7] Moreover, there have been strikingly higher rates of suicide among Protestants compared to Catholics. [8]

Hence, suicide has been a heated debate both inside and outside the Christian community. It is of utmost importance for pastors and Christian leaders to formulate arguments consistent with the Bible in a pluralistic culture, and to realize how others are framing the debate. The complexity of this controversial topic deserves profound analysis from moral, ethical and theological perspectives in order to open new avenues for intervention and prevention.

3. Definition

At its most basic level, suicide is an act of voluntary and intentional killing of oneself. [9] Suicide has been generally defined as self-killing, self-homicide or self-murder. It implies an active ending of one’s own life. Voluntary self-killing in the sense of self-sacrifice, where the intention is directed toward the benefit of others or to serve others, is considered praiseworthy. In other words, certain grounds are justified but it depends on the intention of the agent rather than the act itself. [10]

Beauchamp and Childress argued that suicide should be defined in a purely conceptual, descriptive and non-evaluative manner. An act is a suicide only if one intentionally terminates one’s own life regardless of the nature of the intention. If anybody hesitates to label an act of self-caused death out of morally appropriate motive as suicide, it is an attitude carrying an evaluation. Thus, any kinds of prejudice and objectivity should be removed. [11]

However, Hauerwas claimed that the evaluative use of moral terms is preferable since “suicide” incorporates factual and moral beliefs about one’s worldview. A normatively “uncorrupted” definition of suicide distorts the very grammar of the term. The normative component of a moral term derives its applicability from worldview considerations of the community that uses the term to praise or blame behavior.

The competing views on the definition reveal fundamentally different sets of presuppositions about how to approach a wide range of topics including dignity and ownership of life, autonomy and accountability, which would be discussed in detail as follows.

4. Moral justifications of suicide

4.1 Suicide as a right

Much of the contemporary rhetoric in suicide debates involves either the affirmation or the denial of the right to die. The right to suicide can be both positive and negative: a positive obligation and a negative right of noninterference. The positive rights include the right to die, and the right to be allowed to end one’s life. We should be able to choose our own time of death and no one should impose on us the need to live out a life of suffering. [12]

Another major conception is to group suicide among the fundamental or natural rights of humankind. For instance, the American Constitution and its Bill of Rights, the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the United Nation Declaration of Human Rights. The rights listed vary from one manifesto to another, including rights to life, liberty, ownership of property, etc. They declare that certain universal rights are held by individuals in virtue of their being human. [13]

Most contemporary writers defending a right to die stress neither a claim right, imposing a duty on others to assist in one’s suicide, nor a right of non-interference, imposing a duty on others not to interfere with one’s suicide. They are instead upholding a liberty right to die. A suicidal person has no obligation to refrain from ending her life, regardless of any circumstances. [14]

Advocates of the liberal view hold that an act of suicide may be morally justifiable, provided that the act does not do substantial damage to others. Human beings should be allowed to be self-determining agents who make their choices when their own interests are at stake. Individual has a right to determine his or her own destiny even if others believe that a course of action would be harmful to that individual. [15]

Based on the libertarian view, a rational, competent decision-maker has the autonomous right to commit suicide without interference. Such individuals may also have a right to be assisted in suicide by others. In the present secular state, it is inappropriate to interfere with the moral authority expressed in free choices of individuals. Forcing someone to live against his or her own will can be oppressive and fails to respect persons. [16]

Nevertheless, all natural rights are rooted in the primary right to live, or more specifically, the right of self-preservation. The “right to die” in its most radical sense may become a right to be made dead by whatever means. A clear distinction should be made between the ‘right’ and ‘obligation’. [17] Moreover, proper differentiation between ‘discretionary’ and ‘mandatory’ right is another crux of the matter. An account of suicide in terms of right, duty and obligation may not really answer the moral questions in suicide. It may solely tell us what we are allowed to do, but not what we ought to do. Essentially, the analogy between the right to die and other inalienable natural rights may not be precise to a large extent. [18]

4.2 Rational suicide

Those who argue that we have a right to suicide agreed that there should be limitations to that right. The discussion of the morality of suicide focuses on the morality of a suicidal act done by a rational, competent decision-maker. Such a person can effectively deliberate about different courses of action and the ends they accomplish, as well as different means to reach those ends. [19]

Traditionally, a rational person has been defined as one who has the ability to reason and to see the consequences of the actions he or she plans to take. A rational action is performed not only in accordance with acceptable logical principles, but also based on adequate information about present circumstances. On an even more demanding level, rationality requires the agent’s beliefs about the world be correct. That means a relatively realistic picture of the world, which includes the assessment of his or her life situation. [20]

An act of suicide can be regarded as instrumentally rational when the choice to die serves the ends the individual seeking to achieve through death. It enables one to avoid identifiable future harms and dying which accord with one’s most fundamental interests. However, suicides are mostly irrational or even impulsive in this robust sense. Practical rationality can go astray if an agent’s beliefs about the world are not correct. [21]

We rationally submit to dentistry pain in order to prevent decay. By the same token, it would not be rational to avoid harm where there is some purpose to be served by undergoing it. This is indeed the Catholic stance arguing against rationality and moral permissibility of committing suicide to escape current suffering. Moreover, suicides satisfying an individual’s basic goals are often said to be irrational on psychological grounds. Self-sacrificial acts could be compelled by neurotic desires to manipulate others. [22]

The experience of Job could be an irrefutable biblical case against rational suicide. Knowing that God greatly prefers life to death, he rejects his wife’s view and begins his determined course of questioning. He is not obsessed with the death and the pressure from his friends. On the contrary, he lives through his sufferings, which bring him to a brand new closeness to God and uplifting joy in his life. [23] This approach may serve as the best way out in the dilemma between ‘death with dignity’ and ‘rational suicide’.

5 Social Arguments concerning suicide

Aristotle is widely acknowledged as the originator of the view that suicide damages society. He claimed that the individual who destroys himself or herself is treating the state unjustly. Therefore, criminal sanctions against the suicide are appropriate. [24] Thomas Aquinas reiterated the view that suicide deprives the community of our contribution and offends those who view it as immoral. The good of society takes precedence over the freedom of an individual. It is contrary to the inclination of nature which is love of self. His principle focus is our autonomous nature as free agents. It would be considered paternalistic to intervene. [25] It damages the community as every man belongs to the community only due to what he is.  Hence, prohibitions and punishments for attempted, assisted and even completed suicide are justified to avoid this mortal sin. [26]

The social arguments assess the moral value of suicide in terms of its effects on others because the individual, after committing suicide, no longer exists and presumably can be neither harmed nor benefited. Strictly speaking, suicide has no consequences for the individual without any religious assumptions about an afterlife. Moral judgments regarding the ethical status of suicide then have to be made on the grounds of its impact on other people. [27] The advocates of utilitarian approach state that one’s suicide inevitably impacts the rest of the world. The morality of suicide must take into account the welfare of all relevant parties, instead of the welfare of the person contemplating suicide only. [28]

Various forms of utilitarianism apply different procedures for calculating the weights of satisfaction of the individual and harm to others. An individual may strive to end his or her life to avoid shame, loneliness or pain. [29] Undoubtedly, the suicide of an individual may have serious and painful effects on his or her immediate family and friends. Apart from grief and emotional pain, it may also cause deprivation of an individual’s labour and contribution to society. It might undermine the justice system of society, promoting disorder and lawlessness because of the mutual interdependence of individuals in society. The common good and the community’s interest have to be preserved. [30]

However, it may not be the case for contemporary society as a whole. Paradoxically, these typical teleological and consequentialist arguments, which measure the moral character of suicide in terms of the consequences, can be applied to view that suicide constitutes a benefit to society. It is believed that suicide might be contemplated to spare society the burden of caring for its old, ill and other dependent members. [31] A more extreme and bizarre result of adopting utilitarian approach is that suicide can be considered obligatory in order to boost the utility in the society as a whole. [32]

6 Theological views on suicide

6.1 Suicide in the Bible

The world’s major religions differ on their doctrines about what follows earthly death based on their distinct conception of God. The disparity that most concerns us is whether the religion promises a personal afterlife or some other sort of survival of death. [33] The Hindu custom of suttee regards a widow willingly cremating on her husband's funeral pyre as an act of devotion The Japanese Kamikaze pilots sacrificed themselves in suicide attacks on American ships during World War II. There has been a contemporary wave of suicide bombers in several Muslim societies, who are admired by many and seen as pursuing a martyr's death even though suicide is strictly prohibited by Islam. [34]

Explicit prohibition of suicide may not be found in the Bible. The Christian use of the Sixth Commandment as the basis for the prohibition of suicide originates with St. Augustine, prior to the early fifth century A. D. In that era, the Church had no unified position on the moral status of suicide, and was widely divided on various forms of self-killing. Deliberate martyrdom and religiously motivated suicide were allowed. [35] Augustine then addressed both the pagan and the Christian worlds when rejecting suicide.

Nevertheless, Augustine noted that this commandment is not qualified in any way. We are not told “You shall not kill your neighbor”, but simply told “You shall not kill”. The scope of this prohibition includes all and only innocent human being. The commandment should be “Thou shalt not kill man” or perhaps “thou shalt do no wrongful killing”. The heart of Augustine’s biblical justification against suicide is a transgression of the Sixth Commandment. The command simply prohibits the killing of human beings, including both homicide and suicide. [36]

There are six cases of suicide recorded in the Old Testament. [37] All these cases in the Bible are presented as a result of extreme and hopeless circumstances. The motives for suicide vary from fear of being killed or humiliated to a lust for revenge. The methods are diverse indeed. Inferring from these stories, suicide can be a legitimate option in exceptional and extremely difficult situations. A person who chooses that route is not to be condemned out of hand. In the case of Samson, the biblical narrator even praises him for the manner of his death, which continues his mission of avenging the Israelites against the Philistines. [38]

Karl Barth identified three great suicides of the Bible, namely Saul, Ahithophel and Judas. Ironically, these three deaths are the culmination of a decision to usurp God’s sovereignty. Paul desired to be a king after the fashion of Gentiles, the sovereignty of the king replacing that of Jehovah. Ahithophel turned his back on God’s elect David. In the only account of suicide in the New Testament, Judas held back from a wholehearted commitment to Jesus by the act of betrayal. Barth acknowledged that the above-mentioned cases are those who refuse God’s grace and try to exist as their own lords. [39]

Apart from this, the Bible contains a number of stories in which God intervenes in the lives of characters who express some sort of death wish, such as Moses (Num. 11), Elijah (1 Kings 18-19), David (Psalm 22), Job, Jeremiah and Jonah. God offers the characters a chance to overcome their problems and helps them seek fulfilment in their relationship with God and the world. [40]

6.2       Suicide in Christian tradition

Throughout the history of Christianity, there has been a rejection of suicide as a viable option for Christians. A number of prominent theologians explicitly called suicide immoral and considered it to be a mortal sin. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas stand out as the main shapers of Catholic thought on the subject of suicide. Both were instrumental in leading the church to adopt strict prohibitions and recriminations against the act. It ruled out any opportunity for repentance and was an attack upon the sovereignty of God. Protestants have been heavily influenced by these premises. [41]

In the world of ancient Greece and Rome, the prevailing view toward suicide was widespread acceptance and permissive attitude, especially among the upper classes. Two prominent figures dissenting from the mainstream stance were Plato and Aristotle. Plato’s basic argument against suicide was that we are the property of gods and are not to desert our post before we are relieved. As mentioned, Aristotle strongly opposed it based on a secular argument. He contended that suicide unjustly deprives society of one of its productive members. Both of these arguments are echoed in the Christian tradition. Augustine repeated Plato’s supposition, and Aquinas appropriated Aristotle’s. [42]

Augustine sternly condemned suicide in the City of God as ‘a detestable crime and a damnable sin’. He based this prohibition on his interpretation of Deuteronomy 5:17: “Thou shalt not kill”. He portrayed Jesus as urging flight from persecution rather than self-murder. One must not commit suicide because of magnanimity, physical violation of chastity, or avoidance of future sin. [43] Suicide by a Christian was heinously sinful and categorically condemned. Those who took their own lives were regarded as damned and their burial in consecrated soil was forbidden. [44]

It was the first time to bring suicide forcefully as a moral issue to the attention of the Christian community, and to establish the subsequent prevailing attitude toward it. Augustine strived to make explicit what was already inferentially present in the biblical writings. He asserted that suicide is actually worse than murder as it leaves no room for a ‘healing penitence’. Murderers can at least repent and restore their relationship with God, but for suicide this possibility is precluded, so they enter eternity in in unforgiven condition. [45]

Aquinas is as uncompromising as Augustine in pressing the attack. He reiterated Augustine’s argument and further elaborated his own justifications. He exhibited a more detached manner in his three-fold moral criticism of suicide. The one who commits suicide fails in the duty to oneself, to community and to God. [46] He remarked that suicide is unnatural and uncharitable as everyone bears an instinctive charity toward himself and should do himself no harm. Apart from this mortal sin, suicide is antisocial since individual is a member of a social unit. On top of it, life is the gift of God and only God can pronounce the sentence of life and death. “I will kill and I will make no live” (Deut. 32:39). [47]

Kant formulated a premise different from that of Aquinas. He grounded his objections to suicide on the principle of duty to one’s rational self. Self-interested self-destruction is contradictory because love for self is not a consistent reason for self-killing. We are destroying ourselves when destroying our bodies. A dead person has gone beyond the limits of free will. Suicide is an abomination, so God opposes it. [48]

David Hume examined Aquinas’s major objections to suicide and claimed it is not against God’s will and does not encroach on God’s established order for the universe. Since God created the laws of human nature, we are free to act in relationship to them and dispose of our own lives. The ending of life is no more in the providence of God than the preservation of life. In fact, we are not passive in the face of the natural laws that God has set in motion. [49]

Karl Bart’s Church Dogmatics is probably the only work of dogmatic treating the problem of suicide at a very prominent place. He emphasized that God gives life primarily as a permission but not an obligation. False emphasis on the "Thou shalt not" leads people considering suicide into temptation. Rather they should encounter the Gospel as an invitation to live. Suicide is a sacrilege against the Gospel rather than against the law. Hence, church serves the cause of protection of life by preaching God's grace allowing people to take up their lives under difficult conditions. [50]

Thus, the manner of their deaths - suicide - is a personal choice rather than a Divine decree. Although the acts of suicide recorded in the Scripture are not explicitly condemned, it would be erroneous to view the ‘silence’ as approval and indifference. In light of the dark shadow hanging over these men and the manner in which they ended their lives, self-destruction is a drastic measure in the midst of a turbulent situation. [51]

Moral life is primarily concerned with decisions. Yet prior to the question of "what should we do" is the question of "what should we be." Suicide is not just a description of an individual act, but a premise that forms intentionality to have one kind of character rather than another. When the moral question is limited to whether certain acts to be praised or blamed, we often fail to see the commitments embodied in such notions. Human behavior involves background beliefs without which the value is limited or perhaps misleading. Hence, suicide can be seen as the outcome of attitudes toward life, but not merely as forms of death. [52]

6.3       Value of life

The principle of the value or sanctity of life in western culture is primarily of Hebraic and Christian origin. The adherent of this view asserts that life is of irreducible value and suicide fails to respect it. Life is in itself of absolute value and should not be destroyed. This axiom implies that one has a duty to live just because life itself is of the fundamental value, and killing is wrong regardless of the circumstances. Thus, the social-darwinist version of this argument, regarding suicide as a kind of self-purging mechanism to get rid of diseased or dysfunctional members of society, violates the common conviction on human life beyond measure. [53]

Hauerwas argued that ethics of autonomy overriding all other moral considerations has an insufficient view of good life – the life of each virtuous person and community ought to seek. It is essential to explain why someone should decide to keep on living in the face of difficulties. [54] He noted that life is a gift bestowed by a gracious Creator. Any examination of suicide has to consider the fact that human lives are gifts from God. [55] Living is an obligation and man is obligated to his Creator to live. This obligation expresses the rational belief that God gives purpose to life even in the midst of hardships. Furthermore, one should not commit suicide because of one’s duty to others in the community. A person’s existence depends on the interaction with other lives in community. An act of suicide signals the failure of the community to care for the suicidal person in time of need as well as the person’s lack of care for the community. [56]

An alternative view assigns value to human moral life. Kant saw man as ‘an end in himself’ from the standpoint of creation theology. Man is the "Other" who has been sent forth in freedom through God's omnipotence. [57] Human beings, by virtue of their capacity to reason, generate and observe moral law, are worthy of our respect. To destroy a human being is to destroy the very possibility of morality. Considering the life-or-death cases such as a woman about to be raped and a man sentenced as a galley-slave, death is the automatic alternative to consent. One ought to allow oneself to be killed rather than consent to moral degradation. The duty to preserve one’s life is subordinating to a higher duty: to conform to the moral law. [58]

Barth stressed that suicide is a sin God can forgive. He described what in a Lutheran perspective called conscience, i.e., a human decision facing God's judgment and grace. Individual conscience, in the Lutheran sense, is the "room" in which decisions between life and death - physical and spiritual - to be taken. This "room" is not the secure place of a fully rational, autonomous decision following clear criteria. Rather it is an encounter with God as the master over life and death to receive divine command. [59]

Christian conscience can be conceived as individual's self-reflection facing God's judgment and mercy. The function of Christian ethics then is to inform individual conscience without ever neglecting the tensions between law and gospel, and man's broken relationship to God which must be healed. This basic orientation of life is at the core of every move a human being makes. So any question of life is indeed a question of faith. [60]

Kierkegaard claimed that what we hope for involves grace, mercy, and the forgiveness of sins. Furthermore, the object of hope involves happiness or bliss as well as being part of a society based on love. Christian hope reveals man’s innermost being and that man is made in the image of God. [61] For Christians, the reasons for living begin with the understanding that life is a gift. We are not our own creators. Our desire to live should be given shape in the affirmation that we are not the determiners of our life, but God is. Survival is not an end in itself, but rather we know that life allows us the time and space to live in the service of God. In other words, life is the gift of time for love. [62]

The Christian understanding of life as a gift is more fundamental for determining our stance toward life preservation than the view on a right-to-life. It is crucial that our lives are formed in terms of what God will do with our lives — both in our living and our dying, rather than what we do with them. Christians are people ready to die for what they believe. Our faith is as precious to us as our finite lives, so our purpose is not driven by existence only but also the pursuit of a prosperous earthly and eternal life. [63]

7 Pastoral Concerns

Suicide obviously contradicts some of the most basic convictions of Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. Realizing the tremendous trauma within the suicidal situation, the Roman Catholic Church grasps caring ministry to the survivors as its main focus, instead of punishment against the deceased and family. Modern Protestant scholars came to a more humane understanding of the issue. The forgiveness of God for all sins, instead of the sinful nature of the act, is more stressed. Ministering to suicide survivors has been an approach of most modern Protestant denominations. [64]

The number of Christians struggling with depression and suicidal thought has been on the rise in recent years. However, these patients may be mostly hidden within the church. Pastors who are called upon to minister in the prevention and aftermath of suicide are facing an unprecedentedly tremendous challenge. The lives of people who commit suicide could be complex, while their mental and emotional pain is substantial. How they respond is a crucial element of personal, parish and community healing. The decision of whether to normalize or pathologize the act is a critical decision. [65]

As discussed, ‘hardline’ views within the Christian tradition have shifted over the years and suicides are generally treated like any other death. Catholics and Protestants, such as US Catholic Church in 2003 and United Methodist Church in 2004 respectively, are abandoning the Augustine and Aquinas arguments. [66] Concepts and expressions such as compassion and forgiveness have noticeably replaced the notion of sin and shame. The traditions of not allowing the burial of a suicide on consecrated ground have been abolished. It is crystal clear that suicide has been decriminalized. [67]

Nevertheless, stringent central policy or formal statements on suicidal behavior by Christian denomination can hardly be found. The approach to cases of suicide may generally be left to the discretion of individual pastor. It has been reported that clergy find themselves stuck between compassion and condemnation, caught between theological and secular responses towards suicide, trapped between their grief and sympathy for family and their religious abhorrence of the act,. [68]

Hence, pastoral role goes beyond teaching theology or biblical facts, but to nurture the Christian community to accomplish personal growth and spiritual maturity. With reference to the church context and needs of the congregation, support group network and counseling service could be ministries to care for those in despair. Seminary and Christian counsellors may offer relevant courses and programmes to equip pastors and church leaders with the skills necessary to prevent or intervene with sensitivity, balance empathy and compassion with hope and guidance.

Christians believe that their death is not the end, but rather a transition to a better life with God. Christian beliefs can be adapted into a personally operative theology, giving them transcendent dimensions to heal the pain with their bereavement. [69] In spite of the severe challenge of providing pastoral care and education regarding suicide, it is indispensable to express love, mercy and compassion to those victims.

8 Conclusion

Essentially, it would be thought-provoking to examine and amalgamate all the major perspectives on suicide, which are firmly entwined with a wide range of values and cultures. Some of the traditional arguments may seem stilted or out of date but they undeniably build the theoretical scaffolding for reaching the contemporary interpretations.

A strong conviction that humanity is created in the image of God has far-reaching personal, moral and theological implications. The Bible affirms the loving character of God, telling us that He is omniscient and omnipresent, all knowing in the midst of any trials and temptations. This personal faith and worldview envisage a rosy picture of future life, which help survive traumas, catastrophes and crises without denial of the pain and suffering.

Irrefutably, pastors and church leaders may serve as a vehicle of God’s grace and peace to the depressed Christians teetering on the brink of committing suicide as well as the grief-stricken families of the victims. It is hoped that more concerted effort could be made to embark on this pastoring journey, an uphill battle but rewarding with eternal significance. May the Lord of hope fill us (Rom. 15:13), offer to us the fragrant bouquet of hope through the Word (Rom 15:4; 2 Cor. 2:15).

 

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[1] Evans, Abigail Rian. Is God still at the Bedside – The Medical, Ethical and Pastoral Issues of Death and Dying (Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2011): 111.

[2] Stewart, Gary P. et al. Basic Questions on Suicide and Euthanasia: Are They Ever Right (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1998), 11-12.

[3] Evans, Is God still at the Bedside, 116.

[4] The University of Hong Kong. The Contagion of Suicide Reporting” Seminar and Press conference, 07 Sep 2013, < https://www.hku.hk/press/news_detail_10151.html>.

[5] Li Jingrong. “280,000 suicides in China each year”, China.org.cn. July 6, 2013, <http://www.china.org.cn/china/2013-07/06/content_29342559.htm>.

[6] Dubois, Matthew.  “The Last Resort: China’s Growing Suicide Problem”. The World of Chinese, 12 March 2013.

<http://www.theworldofchinese.com/2013/03/the-last-resort-chinas-growing-suicide-problem>.

[7] Shellnutt, Kate. “Rick Warren Tells Story of Son's Suicide on CNN”. Christianity Today, <http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2013/september/rick-warren-tells-story-son-matthew-suicide-cnn.html>.

[8] Nazworth, Napp. “Suicide More Likely With Protestants Than Catholics”. Christian Post, 27 March 2012.

[9] Stewart, Basic Questions on Suicide and Euthanasia: Are They Ever Right, 11.

[10] Evans, Is God still at the Bedside, 112.

[11] Moreland, J. P. “The Morality of Suicide” in Timothy J. Demy & Gary P. Stewart (ed.) Suicide: A Christian Response: Crucial considerations for choosing life (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1998), 184.

[12] Evans, Is God still at the Bedside, 119.

[13] Battin, Margaret Pabst. Ethical Issues in Suicide (New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1995), 187.

[14] Cholbi, Michael. What is Wrong with “What is Wrong with Rational Suicide”. Philosophia 40 (2012): 290.

[15] Moreland, J. P. “The Morality of Suicide”, 187-188.

[16] Ibid., 193-194.

[17] Stewart, Basic Questions on Suicide and Euthanasia: Are They Ever Right? 37.

[18] Battin, Margaret Pabst. Ethical Issues in Suicide (New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1995), 190-191.

[19] Moreland, “The Morality of Suicide”, 187.

[20] Battin, Ethical Issues in Suicide, 133-135.

[21] Cholbi, What is Wrong with “What is Wrong with Rational Suicide”, 288-289.

[22] Battin, Ethical Issues in Suicide, 144,147.

[23] Kaplan Kalman J. & Matthew B. Schwartz. A Psychology of Hope: A Biblical Response to Tragedy and Suicide (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2008), 219.

[24] Battin, Ethical Issues in Suicide, 76.

[25] Evans, Abigail Rian. Is God still at the Bedside, 123.

[26] Battin, Ethical Issues in Suicide, 76.

[27] Ibid., 104.

[28] Moreland, “The Morality of Suicide”, 188.

[29] Battin, Ethical Issues in Suicide, 104.

[30] Ibid.,77.

[31] Ibid., 97.

[32] Ibid., 105

[33] Prado, C. G. Choosing to Die: Elective Death and Multiculturalism (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 141.

[34] Shemesh, Yael. Suicide in the Bible. Jewish Bible Quarterly, Vol. 37 No. 3 (2009), 157.

[35] Battin, Margaret Pabst. Least Worry Death: Essays in Bioethics on the End of Life (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 210.

[36] Wennbert, Robert N. Terminal Choices: Euthanasia, Suicide and the Right to Die (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company,1989): 55-56.

[37] Abimelech (Jud. 9:50-56); Samson (Jud. 16:25-31); Saul and his armor-bearer (1 Sam. 32:1-6, 2 Sam 1:1-15, 1 Chr. 10:1-13); Zimri (1 Kings 16:18-19); and Ahithophel (2 Sam. 17:23)

[38] Shemesh, Jewish Bible Quarterly, 167.

[39] Wennbert, Terminal Choices: Euthanasia, Suicide and the Right to Die, 47.

[40] Kaplan, & Schwartz. A Psychology of Hope: A Biblical Response to Tragedy and Suicide, 119-120.

[41] Hewett, John H. After Suicide (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1980), 90.

[42] Wennbert, Terminal Choices: Euthanasia, Suicide and the Right to Die, 40-42.

[43] Kaplan, & Schwartz. A Psychology of Hope: A Biblical Response to Tragedy and Suicide, 2008, 60.

[44] Prado, Choosing to Die: Elective Death and Multiculturalism, 141.

[45] Wennbert, Terminal Choices: Euthanasia, Suicide and the Right to Die, 54-55.

[46] Ibid., 65-66.

[47] Kaplan, & Schwartz. A Psychology of Hope: A Biblical Response to Tragedy and Suicide, 61.

[48] Evans, Is God still at the Bedside, 124-125.

[49] Evans, Is God still at the Bedside, 121-122.

[50] Bartmann, Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia: German Protestantism, Conscience, and the Limits of Purely Ethical Reflection, 213.

[51] Wennbert, Terminal Choices: Euthanasia, Suicide and the Right to Die, 48.

[52] Hauerwas, Stanley & Richard Bondi. Memory, Community and the Reasons for Living: Theological and Ethical Reflections on Suicide and Euthanasia. Journal of the American Academy of Religion 44/3 (1976): 440-441.

[53] Battin, Ethical Issues in Suicide, 114-116.

[54] Moreland, “The Morality of Suicide”, 189.

[55] Ibid., 189.

[56] Moreland, “The Morality of Suicide”, 190.

[57] Fuchs, Josef. Christian faith and the disposing of human life. Theological Studies, 46 No. 4 Dec (1985): 671.

[58] Battin, Ethical Issues in Suicide, 121-123.

[59] Bartmann, Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia: German Protestantism, Conscience, and the Limits of Purely Ethical Reflection, 214.

[60] Ibid., 211-212.

[61] Fremstedal, Roe. Kierkegaard on the Metaphysics of Hope. The Heythrop Journal LIII (2012): 53-54, 57.

[62] Hauerwas & Bondi, Memory, Community and the Reasons for Living: Theological and Ethical Reflections on Suicide and Euthanasia, 445.

[63] Ibid., 446-447.

[64] Hewett, After Suicide, 90-91.

[65] Watson, Jeffrey A. “Pastoral Reflections on Adolescent Suicide” in Timothy J. Demy & Gary P. Stewart (ed.) Suicide: A Christian Response: Crucial considerations for choosing life (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1998), 436.

[66] VandeCreek, Larry & Kenneth Mottram. The Perceived Roles of God during Suicide Bereavement. Journal of Psychology & Theology Vol. 39 Issue 2 Summer (2011):156.

[67] Leavey, Gerard, Janeet Rondon & Peter McBride. Between compassion and condemnation: A qualitative study of clergy views on suicide in Northern Ireland. Mental Health, Religion & Culture. Vol. 14 Issue 1 Jan (2011): 70.

[68] Leavey, Rondon & McBride. Between compassion and condemnation: A qualitative study of clergy views on suicide in Northern Ireland”, 73.

[69] VandeCreek & Mottram. The Perceived Roles of God during Suicide Bereavement, 155,159.

 
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