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2 Christianity 1.3 Islam 2 Indian religions 2.1 Hinduism 2.2 Jainism 2.3 Buddhism 3 Religious cults 4 References 5 External links  Abrahamic religions JudaismMain article: Jewish views on suicide Suicide is forbidden by Jewish law. Judaism has traditionally viewed suicide as a serious sin. It is not seen as an acceptable alternative even if one is being forced to commit certain cardinal sins for which one must give up one's life rat her than sin. Assisting in suicide and requesting such assistance (thereby creat ing an accomplice to a sinful act) is also forbidden, a minimal violation of Lev iticus 19:14, "Do not put a stumbling block before the blind," for the Rabbis in terpreted that verse to prohibit any type of stumbling block: theological (e.g., persuading people to believe in false doctrine), economic (e.g., giving bad fin ancial advice) or in this case moral stumbling blocks, as well as physical ones.   ChristianityAccording to the theology of the Catholic Church, death by su icide is considered a grave or serious sin. The chief Catholic Christian argumen t is that one's life is the property of God and a gift to the world, and to dest roy that life is to wrongly assert dominion over what is God's and is a tragic l oss of hope. However, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Number 2283 state s, "We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken the ir own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for sa lutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives." Conservative Protestants (Evangelicals, Charismatics, Pentecostals, and other de nominations) have often argued that because suicide involves self-murder, then a nyone who commits it is sinning and is the same as if the person murdered anothe r human being. An additional view concerns the act of asking for salvation and a ccepting Jesus Christ as personal savior, which must be done prior to death. Thi s is an important aspect of many Protestant denominations, and the problem with suicide is that once dead the individual is unable to accept salvation. The unpa rdonable sin then becomes not the suicide itself, but rather the refusal of the gift of salvation. Most Fundamental Christians (traditional Baptists) view suicide as any other sin . John Piper speaking at a funeral at Bethel Baptist Church in 1981 said, "No si ngle sin, not even suicide, evicts a person from heaven into hell. One thing doe s: continual rejection of God's Spirit. Our friend, we believe, gave up that res istance and accepted the forgiveness of Christ. What sort of momentary weakness, what brief cloud of hopelessness caused her to take her life remains a mystery. ) The view of scripture on the topic is such that, once a person comes to faith in Jesus Christ, every sin they will ever commit is paid for (1 John 1:7), and "th ere is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). Thes
e Christians believe suicide to be a sin, but do not believe it is impossible to find salvation. (Romans 4:8). However, Judas, who committed suicide in despair, is generally believed to have been damned, for his suicide and/or for his actio ns which caused the death of another. However, it should be noted that Jesus Him self said that Judas was never truly repentant in life before suicide (John 6:70 -71, 13:10-11, 17:12), and that marked his eternity, not the suicide itself. Eastern Orthodoxy, on the other hand, has never made any absolute statement abou t people who commit suicide. There have been those in the history of the Church that have killed themselves rather than be tortured and demoralized by invaders (see Dance of Zalongo). They also feel that perpetrators of suicide are most lik ely “not in their right minds” and that God will have mercy on them. In any case the Orthodox Christians leave the fate of suicide victims up to God and avoid makin g judgements. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, suicide is viewed as wrong, although the victim may not be considered responsible for the act depending on t he circumstances.  Some other denominations of Christianity, such as The New Church[citation needed ], don't explicitly condemn suicide per se as a sin, even if suicide isn't viewe d favorably; factors such as motive, character, etc. are believed to be taken in to account.  IslamIslam, like other Abrahamic religions, views suicide as one of the g reatest sins and utterly detrimental to one's spiritual journey. A verse in the Quran instructs; "And do not kill yourselves, surely God is most Merciful to you ." (4:29) Most Muslim scholars and clerics consider suicide forbidden, but many do not inc lude suicide bombing, which is determined by analogy (qiyas) to be the equivalen t of putting one's life in danger when fighting an enemy in war, and not suicide as such (i.e. there is a great risk of death when fighting in hand-to-hand comb at; the only difference being that there is some chance of living). Often cited is the aforementioned verse in the Qur'an as a clear commandment forbidding suic ide. Some Shafii scholars even classify suicide as an unpardonable sin, the equi valent of eternal sin in Christianity.[improper synthesis?] The prohibition of suicide has also been recorded and commonly accepted to be au thentic statements of hadith, (sayings of Muhammad). For example:[improper synth esis?] Hadith - Bukhari 2:446 Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "He who commits suicide by throttling shall keep on throttling himself in the Hell Fire (forever) and he who commits suicide by stabbing himse lf shall keep on stabbing himself in the Hell-Fire." Also, Hadith - Bukhari 7:670, Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "Whoever purposely throws himself from a mountain and kills hi mself, will be in the (Hell) Fire falling down into it and abiding therein perpe tually forever; and whoever drinks poison and kills himself with it, he will be carrying his poison in his hand and drinking it in the (Hell) Fire wherein he wi ll abide eternally forever; and whoever kills himself with an iron weapon, will be carrying that weapon in his hand and stabbing his abdomen with it in the (Hel l) Fire wherein he will abide eternally forever."  Indian religions HinduismIn Hinduism, there are a number of views r egard to suicide. Generally, committing suicide is considered a violation of the
code of ahimsa and therefore equally sinful as murdering another. Some scriptur es state that to die by suicide (and any type of violent death) results in becom ing a ghost, wandering earth until the time one would have otherwise died, had o ne not committed suicide. Although not prescribed by any Hindu scripture; the currently defunct and proscribed practice of sati facilitated self-immolatio n of widows in their husband's pyre in Middle age India. Hinduism accepts a man's right to end one's life through the non-violent practic e of fasting to death, termed Prayopavesa. But Prayopavesa is strictly restri cted to people who have no desire or ambition left, and no responsibilities rema ining in this life.  JainismJainism is one religion that permits suicide with restrictions. Ja in munis & elderly have been known to starve themselves to death, though there i s no record of application of any other violent means due to heavy insistence on non-violence. The practice of non-violent fasting to death which is sanction ed by Jainism is termed Santhara.  BuddhismAccording to Buddhism, individuals' past acts heavily influence w hat they experience in the present; present acts, in turn, become the background influence for future experiences (the doctrine of karma). Intentional action by mind, body or speech have a reaction. This reaction, or repercussion, is the ca use of conditions and differences one encounters in life. Buddhism teaches that all people experience substantial suffering (dukkha), in w hich suffering primarily originates from past negative deeds (karma), or may res ult as a natural process of the cycle of birth and death (samsara). Other reason s for the prevalence of suffering concern the concepts of impermanence and illus ion (maya). Since everything is in a constant state of impermanence or flux, ind ividuals experience dissatisfaction with the fleeting events of life. To break o ut of samsara, Buddhism advocates the Noble Eightfold Path. For Buddhists, since the first precept is to refrain from the destruction of lif e, including one's self, suicide is seen as a negative form of action. If someon e commits suicide in anger, he may be reborn in a sorrowful realm due to negativ e final thoughts. However, unlike Christianity and other religions, Buddhi sm does not condemn suicide, but rather states that the reasons for suicide are often negative and thus counteract the path to enlightenment. There is one Buddhist tale of a bhikkhu named Godhika who had repeatedly att ained temporary liberation of mind but was unable to gain final liberation due t o illness. Godhika chose to take his own life while in a state of temporary liberation to be reborn in a high realm. The Buddha was quoted as saying Such indeed is how the steadfast act: They are not attached to life. Having drawn out craving at its root Godhika has attained final Nibbaana. There is a similar story of a bhikkhu named Vakkali who committed suicide upon b ecoming an arhant. Ultimately, tales like these point to a Buddhist belief t hat suicide may be acceptable ("good") if it will lead to non-attachment. Howeve r, people who have achieved enlightenment do not commit suicide. In both above c ases they were not enlightened before attempting suicide but they became enlight ened during or following their deaths. In an entry in the The Encyclopedia of Religion, Marilyn J. Harran wrote the fol lowing:
Buddhism in its various forms affirms that, while suicide as self-sacrifice may be appropriate for the person who is an arhat, one who has attained enlightenmen t, it is still very much the exception to the rule The Channovàda-sutra gives yet another example of an arhant who committed suicide.   Religious cultsMain article: Cult suicide Some religious cults not only permit suicide but even actively encourage their m embers to commit suicides, as they believe that a suicide is an escape path for a soul to another, better world.  References1.^ See Talmud Bavli (B.) Pesah.im 22b; B. Mo'ed Katan 5a, 17a; B. Bava Mezia 75b. and B. Nedarim 42b). 2.^ "Suicide". The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. http://lds.org/s tudy/topics/suicide?lang=eng. 3.^ Suicide as seen in Islam 4.^ Hindu Website. Hinduism and suicide 5.^ K. N. Gupta (2002). Indian police and vigilance in the 21st century. Anmol P ublications. pp. 254. ISBN 8126111046 9788126111046. http://books.google.com/boo ks?id=9poWJfndXHQC&pg=PA254. 6.^ a b "Hinduism - Euthanasia and Suicide". BBC. 2009-08-25. http://www.bbc.co. uk/religion/religions/hinduism/hinduethics/euthanasia.shtml. 7.^ Suicide and Jainism 8.^ 千萬不要自殺 --悔恨千年 烈痛苦! 9.^ 珍惜生命 墮胎與自殺的真相） 10.^ 論佛教的自殺觀 11.^ a b c d e Suicide as A Response to Suffering 12.^ Buddhism, euthanasia and suicide at the BBC 13.^ Mircea Eliade. The Encyclopedia of Religion (vol 14). New York: Macmillan. pp. 129. ISBN 0028657330. 14.^ Damien Keown. "Buddhism and Suicide The Case of Channa". Journal of Buddhis t Ethics 3 (1996): 19–21. http://www.buddhistethics.org/3/keown.pdf. Retrieved 201 0-11-29. -----------------------------------------Buddhism and Suicide --- The Case of Channa Damien Keown - University of London, Goldsmiths Introduction In his 1983 paper "The 'Suicide' Problem in the Paali Canon," Martin Wiltshire w rote: "The topic of suicide has been chosen not only for its intrinsic factual a nd historical interest but because it spotlights certain key issues in the field of Buddhist ethics and doctrine." I think Wiltshire was right to identify su icide as an important issue in Buddhist ethics: it raises basic questions abo ut autonomy and the value of human life, and plays a pivotal role in related que stions such as physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia. I will not discuss any of those questions here, since the first priority is to address the specific "problem" Wiltshire identified in the title of his paper, n amely that suicide seems to be regarded with ambivalence in the Pali canon. Wilt shire wrote in his opening paragraph: "We should, perhaps, point out that suicid e first presented itself to us as an intriguing subject of enquiry when we disco vered that it appeared to be regarded equivocally within the Canon, that it was both censored and condoned." The view that suicide is regarded equivocally in th e canon goes back at least to the 1920s. In his 1922 entry on suicide in the Enc yclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, de La Vallee Poussin wrote: We have therefore good reason to believe (1) that suicide is not an ascetic act
leading to spiritual progress and to nirvaa.na, and (2) that no saint or arhat-a spiritually perfect being-- will kill himself. But we are confronted with a n umber of stories which prove beyond dispute that we are mistaken in these two im portant conclusions. In the same year F.L.Woodward expressed a similar opinion. There are, however, passages in the Nikaayas where the Buddha approves of the su icide of bhikkhus: but in these cases they were Arahants, and we are to suppose that such beings who have mastered self, can do what they please as regards the life and death of their carcase. Views of this kind have influenced Western scholarship over the past seventy yea rs. In recent times Becker-- going beyond the evidence of the texts-- has spo ken of the Buddha's "praise" of the suicides of Vakkali and Channa (1993:136) an d claimed that there is a "consistent Buddhist position" (1993: 137) on suicide (a permissive one). Various attempts, for the most part along similar lines, have been made to expla in why suicide is prohibited for the unenlightened but permitted for the enlight ened. In 1965 Lamotte wrote: The desperate person who takes his own life obviously aspires to annihilation: h is suicide, instigated by desire, will not omit him from fruition, and he will h ave to partake of the fruit of his action. In the case of the ordinary man, suic ide is a folly and does not achieve the intended aim. This situation is compared with the suicide of an enlightened person: In contrast, suicide is justified in the persons of the Noble Ones who have alre ady cut off desire and by so doing neutralised their actions by making them inca pable of producing further fruit. From the point of view of early Buddhism, suic ide is a normal matter in the case of the Noble Ones who, having completed their work, sever their last link with the world and voluntarily pass into Nirvaa.na, thus definitively escaping from the world of rebirths (1965:106f). The significant distinction for Lamotte, then, is that the Arhat acts without de sire whereas the unenlightened person does not. Wiltshire shares this view, comm enting that "suicide is salvifically fatal in most cases, but not for the arahan t, since he cannot be motivated by ta.nhaa (S.I.121). Becker, too, sees the m orality of suicide as turning entirely on motivation, although he highlights the role of the second of the three "roots of evil" (akusalamuula) rather than the first. "There is nothing intrinsically wrong with taking one's own life," he wri tes, "if not done in hate, anger or fear" (1993:137). Contrary to views of this kind, it seems to me that Buddhism believes there is something intrinsically wrong with taking one's own life (or indeed taking any l ife), and that motivation-- although of great importance in the assessment of th e moral status of actions-- is not the sole criterion of rightness. My unease about allowing a determining role to motivation is that it leads in the directi on of an ethical theory known as Subjectivism. Subjectivism holds that right and wrong are simply a function of the actor's mental states, and that moral standa rds are a matter of personal opinion or feelings. For the subjectivist, nothing is objectively morally good or morally bad, and actions in themselves do not pos sess significant moral features. The "roots of evil" approach to moral assessmen t described above is subjectivist to the extent that it claims that the same act ion (suicide) can be either right or wrong depending on the state of mind of th! e pers on who suicides: the presence of desire (or fear) makes it wrong, and th e absence of desire (or fear) makes it right.
If applied in other moral contexts, however, this reasoning would lead to unusu al conclusions. It would mean, for example, that the wrongness of murder lies so lely in the perpertrator's desire to kill. But this is to take no account at all of the objective dimension of the crime, namely the wrongness of depriving an i nnocent person of his life. In murder, a grave injustice is done to someone, reg ardless of the murderer's state of mind. To locate the wrongness of murder solel y in desire, is to miss this crucial moral feature of the act. In suicide, of co urse, there is no victim, but the comparison illustrates that moral judgements t ypically pay attention to what is done, and not just the actor's state of mind. To say that suicide is wrong because motivated by desire, moreover, is really o nly to say that desire is wrong. It would follow from this that someone who murd ers without desire does nothing wrong. The absurdity of this conclusion illus trates why a subjectivist approach to the morality of suicide is inadequate. Sub jectivism leads to the conclusion that suicide (or murder) can be right for one person but wrong for another, or even right and wrong for the same person at dif ferent times, as his state of mind changes, and desire comes and goes. The suggestion that suicide is right for Arhats but wrong for non-Arhats also se ems strange in another respect. Arhats and Buddha's are held up by the tradition as moral paradigms: in all circumstances to imitate a Buddha or an Arhat is to do right. Suicide, however, according to the views of Lamotte and others, is an exception to this rule. In this one respect the unenlightened should not emulate the enlightened. But why should suicide be the one anomalous moral issue? Why s hould there be a common morality in everything else, and a two-tier morality in the case of suicide? There seems no obvious reason why suicide (and not murder, stealing, or lying) should constitute a "special case." The reasons above suggest that the explanation offered by Lamotte and others as to why Buddhism condones suicide is mistaken. This rejection of subjectivism cal ls into question the consensus that Buddhism condones Arhat suicide and suggests that the grounds for this claim need to be reassessed. What I wish to do in this paper is take another look at the evidence and see whe ther it really does show "beyond dispute," as de La Vallee Poussin thought, that suicide is condoned. To this end I propose to examine one of the three suicide cases reported in the Pali canon, namely that of the monk Channa. I have chosen the case of Channa because it provides the strongest evidence of the three that Buddhism condones suicide under certain conditions. The case of Channa is well k nown but has not been examined in detail, nor have the views of the commentary b een taken much into account, something I wish to remedy here. To anticipate my c onclusions it seems to me that on closer examination the case is less straightfo rward than has sometimes been thought, both in terms of textual interpretation a nd as regards the normative conclusions to be drawn from it. There are other aspects of the subject of suicide which deserve consideration, b ut which I will not have space to explore. In this paper I offer no definition o f suicide since the cases I will mention create no definitional problems: they a re all reasonably clear examples of self-willed and self-inflicted death. The co ncept of suicide, however, is complex, and it is by no means easy to offer a def inition which is neither too narrow nor too broad. Many questions arise from how we define suicide viz a viz other forms of voluntary death. From a Buddhist per spective these include questions such as whether nirvana is a kind of suicide (the Buddha was sometimes accused of nihilism), whether the Buddha's own death was suicide, whether feeding one's body to a hungry tigress is suicide, and whether the Japanese ritual of seppuku constitutes suicide. It is with s ome relief that I leave these matters to one side as this time! Visiting the Sick Of the three canonical suicide cases, two-- those of Channa and Godhika-- are re
counted in the conventional canonical format for describing visits to the sick.[ 13] Visiting the sick is regarded as a worthy activity for monks. The follow ing pattern is typical of such accounts, although there is considerable variatio n: Patient is introduced by name with a stock description of his condition ("afflic ted, suffering and gravely ill") Patient sends an emissary asking for a religious visit A senior disciple or the Buddha comes to visit Visitor expresses the hope that the condition is improving but patient reports t he condition is deteriorating Visitor delivers a sermon then leaves Something happens to the patient (recovers, dies, commits suicide) News of what has transpired is reported to the Buddha The Buddha makes a pronouncement. Several other cases follow the pattern of the suicides but without ending in sel f-inflicted death. Wiltshire, however, treats these as relevant to the issue of suicide: Owing to their fundamental resemblance to the indubitable suicide stories, we sh all treat these as relevant to the issue. The problem of decipherment is partly created by the Paali locution katakaala (lit.,"making an end") which is used bot h for death by natural causes and for suicide. Wiltshire goes astray here in two respects. The first is a minor one: the compou nd katakaala does not occur in the canon and the term invariably used is kaalaka ta. More important, however, is his suggestion that this term is used for suicid es. There is no reason to suppose from the contexts that any of the 174 occurren ces of this term in the canon involve death by suicide. Kaalakata simply mea ns "dead," and in the absence of further qualification there is no reason to thi nk it denotes suicide any more than the use of the English word "dead" implies a death by suicide. It is noteworthy that the term kaalakata is not used anywhere in connection with the three bhikkhu suicide cases: instead all three are said to have "used the knife" (sattha.m aaharesi). By including the other cases i n his discussion of suicide Wiltshire gives the impression that suicide was more ! common than it was. Assuming these stories to be connected with the three sui cides, he writes: The stories which belong in this category are those of the bhikkhu Assaji (S.III .124)-- this story succeeds Vakkali's in the Sa.myutta text and shares the same format, apart from not mentioning his death; it was probably thought superfluous to mention this, as the primary object of these suttas is convey doctrine on th e khandhas -- and of the two upaasakas Anaathapi.n.dika (M.III.258; S.V.380) and Diighaavu (S.V.344). There is no reason to link any of these stories to the suicides, and it is pure speculation to assume that any of the deaths involved a suicidal intent. As Wilt shire himself notes, the suicide cases are clearly distinguished by the referenc e to the monks "using the knife," but there is no reference to this in any of th e cases mentioned above. As far as Assaji is concerned, the text reports (S.v.38 0ff) that he is gravely ill with a breathing complaint. The Buddha visits and gi ves teachings but, as Wiltshire notes, no mention is made of the patient's death . Anaathapi.n.dika is visited once by Saariputta (unusually, his pains disappear !) and once by Aananda. In neither case is his death reported nor is there any m ention of death being contemplated. The episode of Diighaavu (A.v.344), a lay-di sciple, follows the familiar pattern. Diighaavu is seriously ill and his conditi on is deteriorating. He requests a visit from the Buddha who comes and give teac hings. Diighaavu dies and th! e Budd ha reveals that he has been reborn as a non -returner (anaagaamin).
In fact there are only two cases in the canon which give any reason at all for thinking that suicide may be condoned, those of Channa and Vakkali. In the t hird case-- that of Godhika-- the Buddha voices no opinion at all on the monk's suicide. Even in the case of Vakkali the Buddha simply predicts that Vakkali's d eath will not be "ill" (apaapika) -- a statement which could be interpreted in a variety of ways. Only in one case-- that of Channa-- is anything resemb ling exoneration given after the event. This takes the form of a short statement by the Buddha which is translated by F. L. Woodward as follows: For whoso, Saariputta, lays down one body and takes up another body, of him I sa y "He is to blame." But it is not so with the brother Channa. Without reproach w as the knife used by the brother Channa. It would not be exaggerating greatly to say that the claim that suicide is permi ssible for Arhats rests to a large extent on the above passage. I will come in a moment to some reasons why the above translation may be doubtful, but even taki ng it at face value I think we should exercise caution before interpreting it to mean that suicide by Arhats is permissible. The first point to note is that the Buddha does not explicitly state that he con dones suicide by Arhats. He neither says this here, nor does he say it anywhere else. What the Buddha actually says in the first part of his statement is someth ing slightly different, namely that what he regards as blameworthy is grasping a fter a new body. This is little more than an affirmation of standard Buddhist do ctrine. The Buddha could be seen here, as on numerous other occasions, as sk illfully taking advantage of the context to make an point about the importance o f remaining focused on the goal. In other words, Channa's death becomes a poigna nt occasion for the Buddha to emphasize the urgency of putting an end to rebirth . The trickier bit to explain, however, is the final part of the statement where t he Buddha says "Without reproach was the knife used by the brother Channa." Do t hese words not clearly imply, as Wiltshire and others have suggested, an exonera tion with respect to suicide? Yes, I think they do. Nevertheless, I do not think this leads to the conclusion that Buddhism condones suicide. Exoneration and co ndonation are two different things. Exoneration is the removal of a burden (onus ) of guilt, while condonation is the approval of what is done. These two terms r eflect the distinction-- well established in Western ethics and law-- between th e wrongfulness of acts and the guilt incurred by those who commit them. Although an act may be wrong in itself, the burden of guilt incurred in its commission m ay vary. Self-defence, provocation, duress, and insanity are all grounds which m itigate otherwise wrongful acts. It is also widely recognized with respect to su icide in partic! ular t hat there may be psychological and other factors present which diminish responsibility. This is one reason suicide has been decrimin alized in many jurisdictions. If, like Woodward, we translate the Buddha's concluding statement to the effect that Channa used the knife "without reproach," it could mean simply that-- that the Buddha felt it would be improper to blame or reproach Channa (or someone in his situation). This need not mean that suicide is morally right: it simply ack nowledges that the burden of guilt in many circumstances may be slight or non-ex istent. Thus we might say in the present case the Buddha is exonerating Chan na rather than condoning suicide. Wiltshire makes a similar point: Apart from representing putative cases of suicide, these stories share one furth er overriding theme -- each of the protagonists is suffering from a serious dege nerative illness -- So, when we try to understand why they are exonerated, it is initially necessary to appreciate that their act is not gratuitously performed, but constrained by force of circumstances.
The discussion so far, then, would suggest that there is no need to see the Budd ha's pronouncement on Channa as establishing a normative position on suicide by Arhats. At the very least, the evidence falls a long way short of proving "beyon d dispute" that suicide for Arhats is condoned. So far I have discussed the Buddha's exoneration of Channa out of context. What I would like to do for the remainder of the paper is take a closer look at the f acts of the case. The closer we look, the less confident I think we will feel ab out drawing any firm conclusions from it. Channa The story of Channa occurs in two places in the canon, once in the Majjhimanikaaya and once in the Sa.myutta-nikaaya. I will first of all summarise the narrative in the main text and then consider the views of the commentary. The Channovaada-sutta relates how Saariputta, Mahaa Cunda and Channa were resid ing on Vulture Peak mountain. Channa was "afflicted, suffering, and gravely ill. " Arising from his evening meditation, Saariputta suggests to Mahaa Cunda th at they visit the ailing Channa, which they do. Enquiring about Channa's health they are told that his condition is deteriorating rather than improving. The nat ure of the illness itself is not diagnosed but the symptoms are described in sto ck terms identical to those of the layman Anaathapi.n.dika in the preceding sutt a. Both men complain of intense pain in the head and stomach, and throughout the body generally. The head pain is said to be like having one's head split open w ith a sharp sword, or having a leather strap progressively tightened around the head like a headband. The stomach pain is compared to having one's belly carved up by a sharp knife, in the way a butcher might carve up an oxe's bell! y. The b ody pain is likened to tha t of being roasted over a pit of hot coals. The head and stomach pains are attributed to the action of "violent winds" (adhimattaa va ataa), but no specific cause is mentioned for the more diffuse but no less inten se bodily pain. After describing his condition, Channa declares "I shall use the knife, friend S aariputta, I have no desire to live." On hearing this the immediate response of Saariputta is to dissuade Channa from taking his life: Let the venerable Channa not use the knife! Let the venerable Channa live-- we w ant the venerable Channa to live! If he lacks suitable food, I will go in search of suitable food for him. If he l acks suitable medicine, I will go in search of suitable medicine for him. If he lacks a proper attendant, I will attend on him. Let the venerable Channa not use the knife! Let the venerable Channa live-- we want the venerable Channa to live ! In response to this entreaty-- which I believe encapsulates the normative Buddhi st stance on suicide-- Channa explains that he lacks neither food, medicine or c are. He then remarks, somewhat obliquely, that he has long served the teacher wi th love as is proper for a disciple, before repeating his intention to "use the knife": Friend Saariputta, it is not that I have no suitable food and medicine or no pro per attendant. But rather, friend Saariputta, the Teacher has long been served b y me with love, not without love; for it is proper for the disciple to serve the Teacher with love, not without love. Friend Saariputta, remember this: the monk Channa will use the knife blamelessly. There is no logical connection between the three ideas in this passage (I have s uitable food -- I have served the teacher -- I will use the knife) which suggest s some textual interpolation may have taken place. More important, however,
is that in claiming that his his action will be blameless (anupavajja) Channa no w introduces a moral dimension to his earlier declaration of suicide. Or does he? The commentary offers an interesting gloss on the term anupavajja, the key word which will later be used by the Buddha apparently in exoneration. T he commentary offers two synonyms for anupavajja in this context: the first is a nuppattika meaning "without further arising," and the second is appa.tisandhika which means "not leading to rebirth." Read this way Channa is saying "Saarip utta, I will use the knife and not be reborn-- remember I said this." According to the commentary, then, Channa is making a factual statement-- perhaps a predic tion-- rather than passing a moral judgement on suicide. After this the subject changes and first Saariputta and then Mahaa Cunda speak t o Channa on matters of doctrine. Both elders then get up and leave, and soon aft erwards Channa "uses the knife". Saariputta then approaches the Buddha and-- cle arly believing that Channa was not an Arhat-- asks for information about Channa' s post-mortem destination (gati) and future course (abhisamparaaya). The Buddha' s response betrays a degree of impatience and implies that Saariputta should alr eady know the answer: "But surely, Saariputta," he says, "the monk Channa told y ou in person of his anupavajjataa!" What does anupavajjataa mean here? Since Saariputta's question was about rebirth, the context supports the commentarial interpretation of anupavajja as meaning "not being reborn" very well and makes t he Buddha's reply perfectly intelligible. The Buddha is saying something like "W ake up, Saariputta-- you are asking me ab! out th e rebirth of someone who told you himself he was anupavajja-- not going to be reborn!" To take anupavajja here in the sense of "blameless" would not fit the context nearly so well, since Saa riputta was asking for simple factual information on Channa's destiny, not a mor al judgement on the way he died. Immediately after this exchange Saariputta uses the term upavajja again in the context of Channa's association with certain families in the Vajjian village of Pubbajira, Channa's home town. He refers to these families as upavajjakulaan i. The point of Saariputta's remark here is not clear, neither is the meaning of upavajjakula. It could mean "blameworthy family" or it could mean-- as the comm entary suggests-- "a family which is to be visited." The issue, as the comme ntary explains it, concerns the fault of overly-close association with kin (kula sa.msaggadosa), a fault to which Channa seems to have been prone. We cannot rule out the possibility that despite the macabre context obscure puns on the meaning of upavajja-- the sense of which it is now difficult to recover- are being made throughout this passage. The most likely explanation for Saarip utta's remark about the kinfolk, however, is that he is pointing to another conn ection in which he had heard the term upavajja linked to Channa's name. By doing so he defends himself against the Buddha's criticism that he should know Channa 's fate. He is saying, in effect, "Well, yes, Channa did tell me his death would be anupavajja, but I wasn't exactly sure what he meant by that since I have hea rd this term used of him in another context in connection with visiting certain families." The Buddha then concludes the discourse with the statement quoted at the start w hich has been taken as condoning Arhat suicide. I think that when we place the B uddha's statement in context, we see that the Buddha is offering not an exonerat ion of suicide but a clarification of the meaning of anupavajja for Saariputta's benefit. This is how his statement might be translated: True, Saariputta, there are these clansmen and relatives who were visited (upava jjakula) [by Channa], but I do not say he was "saupavajja" on that account (ettaavataa). By "saupavajj a" I mean that someone lays down this body and takes up another. That is not the
case with respect to Channa. Channa used the knife without being reborn (anupav ajja). This is how you should understand it, Saariputta. It is noteworthy that in the Sa.myutta version quoted above, the term anupavajja is contrasted not as we might expect with upavajja-- the normal word for "blame worthy"-- but with saupavajja, a word which seems created specifically for this context, since the only two ocurrences in the entire canon are found in the pass age just quoted. This seems to confirm that upavajja is not being used here in i ts everyday sense of "blameworthy," and that the contrast intended is between an upavajja as "not reborn" and saupavajja as "is reborn." By taking the key term anupavajja in the way suggested by the commentary, which I think fits the context well, the Buddha's concluding remark becomes not an ex oneration of suicide but a clarification of the meaning of an ambiguous word in a context which has nothing to do with ethics. The Commentary The main text makes no reference to Channa gaining enlightenment. We know that C hanna died an Arhat by inference from the Buddha's closing statement, although t here is no corroborating evidence that Channa was an Arhat and no indication of when he became one. Curiously, it is this question of the timing of Channa's enlightenment which co ncerns the commentary most, and it devotes a good deal of effort to show that Ch anna was not an Arhat before he committed suicide. It seeks to establish this in two ways. First, it volunteers a rationale for the specific teaching given to Channa by M ahaa Cunda. The commentary suggests that Mahaa Cunda gave this teaching because he deduced from Channa's inability to bear the pain of the illness, and his thre at to take his life, that he was still an unenlightened person (puthujjana). The attribution of this motive to Mahaa Cunda is speculative, since the text sa ys nothing at all about his motives for selecting the teaching in question. Nor is Channa referred to in the text as an "unenlightened person" (puthujjana). Second, the commentary reconstructs Channa's last moments of life to make it ve ry clear that enlightenment was gained at the last second: "He used the knife" means he used a knife which removes life-- he cut his throat . Now in that very moment the fear of death possessed him, and the sign of his n ext birth (gatinimitta) arose. Knowing he was unenlightened he was stirred (sa.m viggo) and aroused insight. Apprehending the formations (sa"nkhaara) he attained Arhatship and entered nirvana simultaneous with his death (samasiisii hutvaa). The claim of the commentary is thus that Channa was a samasiisin ("equal headed" ), that is to say someone who dies and attains nirvana simultaneously. This reconstruction of Channa's death is likewise speculative, since no details at al l are supplied in the text. Horner's verdict on the commentarial version of even ts is: "The facts could not have been known, and it seems a rather desperate eff ort to work up a satisfactory reason for this supposed attainment." While it seems true that the commentary's reconstruction can never be verified, the poss ibility of achieving "sudden enlightenment" at the critical point "betwixt the b ridge and the brook, the knife and the throat"-- as Robert Burton put it in The Anatomy of Melancholy -- is recognised in Pali sources, and there are severa l examples of people gaining enlightenment just as they are about to kill th! em selves. The commentarial claim that Channa was not an Arhat until his death seems also to be widely accepted in the secondary literature. Wiltshire is of th e opinion that none of the three suicides were Arhats before their deaths. Discu ssing the case of Godhika he writes:
It so happens that in the other bhikkhu suicide cases, those of Channa and Vakka li, it is also made quite clear that they too were not arahants until the event of their death, after which the Buddha pronounces them parinibbuta. More interesting than the truth or falsity of the commentarial version of events , however, is the question why the commentary should take such pains to establis h that Channa was not an Arhat. The reason would appear to be that some aspect o f Channa's behaviour was incompatible with the concept held by the tradition of how an Arhat should conduct himself. In other words, there must be one or more f eatures of Channa's behaviour that the tradition found hard to swallow in an Arh at. I think there are three things the commentary might have taken exception to. The most obvious thing is that the tradition simply found it inconceivable that an Arhat would be capable of suicide. Although this is nowhere mentioned in the text or commentary on this episode, it is often stated elsewhere that it is imp ossible for an Arhat to do certain things, the first of which is intentionally t o kill a living creature. Death-dealing acts of any kind are certainly not i n keeping with the canonical paradigm of the calm and serene Arhat. We are given a hint as to the second reason why the commentary might be unhappy with the notion of Channa being an Arhat prior to his suicide attempt in the mo tivation attributed to Mahaa Cunda for providing his homily to Channa. The sugge stion is made by the commentary that Mahaa Cunda gave this particular teaching b ecause he saw that Channa was "unable to tolerate the intense pain" and was seek ing death in order to escape from it. The inability to tolerate pain shows a lac k of self-mastery unbecoming to an Arhat. The danger of a lack of self-mastery i s that a monk might do things unbecoming to his office and thereby cause the Ord er to lose face in the eyes of society. By maintaining that Channa was unlighten ed until the very end, the image of the Arhat remains untarnished by Channa's al l-too-human show of weakness in the face of pain. The third reason the commentary might have taken exception to suicide by an Arh at is a sectarian one. Suicide by voluntary fasting (sallekhanaa) is a well-know n Jain practice, and suicide may also have been customary among the Aajiivikas.[ 51] Channa's suicide, and the two others, might have been seen as uncomfortably close to a distinctive sectarian practice and perhaps an unwelcome throwback to the discredited path of self-mortification. The commentary's rejection of suicid e by Arhats, therefore, may also carry an implicit rejection of Jainism. What is most striking, however, is not what the commentary does say, but what it doesn't say. I refer to the complete absence of any discussion of the ethics of suicide. We might expect at least a mention of the third paaraajika, which was introduced specifically to prevent suicide by monks. What can be the reason for this silence? Perhaps the simple explanation is that Channa's suicide was no t seen to raise any pressing moral or legal issues: only if Channa was an Arhat would such questions arise. In the eyes of the commentary, Channa was an unenlig htened person (puthujjana) who, afflicted by the pain and distress of a serious illness, took his own life. Presented in this light, few ethical problems arise: suicides by the unenlightened are a sad but all too common affair. By holding t hat Channa gained enlightenment only after he had begun the attempt on his life, the commentary neatly avoids the dilemma of an Arhat ! breaking the precepts. Conclusion Where does all this leave us with respect to the seventy-year consensus that sui cide is permitted for Arhats? I think it gives us a number of reasons to questio n it. First, there is no reason to think that the exoneration of Channa establis hes a normative position on suicide. This is because to exonerate from blame is not the same as to condone. Second, there are textual reasons for thinking that the Buddha's apparent exoner
ation may not be an exoneration after all. The textual issues are complex and it would not be safe to draw any firm conclusions. It might be observed in passing that the textual evidence that suicide may be permissible in Christianity is mu ch greater than in Buddhism. There are many examples of suicide in the Old Testa ment: this has not, however, prevented the Christian tradition from teaching con sistently that suicide is gravely wrong. By comparison, Theravaada sources a re a model of consistency in their refusal to countenance the intentional destru ction of life. Third, the commentarial tradition finds the idea that an Arhat would take his o wn life in the way Channa did completely unacceptable. Fourth, there is a logica l point which, although somewhat obvious, seems to have been overlooked in previ ous discussions. If we assume, along with the commentary and secondary literatur e, that Channa was not an Arhat prior to his suicide attempt, then to extrapolat e a rule from this case such that suicide is permissible for Arhats is fallaciou s. The reason for this is that Channa's suicide was-- in all significant respect s-- the suicide of an unenlightened person. The motivation, deliberation and int ention which preceded his suicide-- everything down to the act of picking up the razor-- all this was done by an unenlightened person. Channa's suicide thus can not be taken as setting a precedent for Arhats for the simple reason that he was not one himself until after he had performed the suicidal act. Fifth and finally, suicide is repeatedly condemned in canonical and non-canonic al sources and goes directly "against the stream" of Buddhist moral teachings. A number of reasons why suicide is wrong are found in the sources but no sing le underlying objection to suicide is articulated. This is not an easy thing to do, and Schopenhauer was not altogether wrong in his statement that the moral ar guments against suicide "lie very deep and are not touched by ordinary ethics."[ 56] Earlier I suggested that the "roots of evil" critique of suicide-- that suic ide was wrong because of the presence of desire or aversion-- was unsatisfactory in that it led in the direction of subjectivism. The underlying objection to su icide, it seems to me, is to be found not in the emotional state of the agent bu t in some intrinsic feature of the suicidal act which renders it morally flawed. I believe, however, there is a way in whi! ch the two approaches can be reconci led. To do this we must locate the wrongness of suicide in delusion (moha) rathe r in the affective "roots" of desire and hatred. On this basis suicide will be wrong because it is an irrational act. By this I do not mean that it is performed while the balance of the mind is disturbed, but that it is incoherent in the context of Buddhist teachings. This is because sui cide is contrary to basic Buddhist values. What Buddhism values is not death, bu t life. Buddhism sees death as an imperfection, a flaw in the human conditio n, something to be overcome rather than affirmed. Death is mentioned in the Firs t Noble Truth as one of the most basic aspects of suffering (dukkha-dukkha). A p erson who opts for death believing it to be a solution to suffering has fundamen tally misunderstood the First Noble Truth. The First Noble Truth teaches that de ath is the problem, not the solution. The fact that the person who commits suici de will be reborn and live again is not important. What is significant is that t hrough the affirmation of death he has, in his heart, embraced Maara! . From a B uddhist perspective, thi s is clearly irrational. If suicide is irrational in th is sense it can be claimed there are objective grounds for regarding it as moral ly wrong.
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Can Killing a Living Being Ever Be an Act of Compassion? 37 Pages - (221 KB) - Free Download
Can Killing a Living Being Ever Be an Act of Compassion? The analysis of the act of killing in the Abhidhamma and Pali Commentaries -- Rupert Gethin In the Early Buddhist exegetical tradition, the notion that intentionally killin g a living being is wrong involves a claim that certain mental states are presen t in the mind. The idea that killing a living being might be a solution to the p roblem of suffering runs counter to the Buddhist emphasis on dukkha as a reality . The cultivation of friendliness in the face of suffering is seen as something that can bring beneficial effects for self and others in a situation where it mi ght seem that compassion should lead one to kill. *** *** ***
Notes . Wiltshire, Martin G. (1983) "The 'Suicide' Problem in the Paali Canon," Jou rnal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 6, pp. 124-140. I am g rateful to Lance Cousins, Peter Harvey and Richard Gombrich for comments on an e arlier draft of this paper. A fuller discussion of suicide will be found in a fo rthcoming book on Buddhist ethics by Peter Harvey to be published by Cambridge U niversity Press entitled An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics: Foundations, Values and Issues, and I am grateful to the author for sight of an advance copy of the relevant chapters.Return . The literature on suicide includes L. de La Vallee Poussin "Suicide (Buddhi st)" in The Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, ed. James Hastings (Edinburgh, Clark: 1922) XII, 24-26; Woodward, F.L. (1922) "The Ethics of Suicide in Greek, Latin and Buddhist Literature," Buddhist Annual of Ceylon, pp. 4-9; Gernet, Jac ques (1960) "Les suicides par le feu chez les bouddhiques chinoises de Ve au Xe siecle," Melange publies par l'Institut des Hautes Études Chinoises II, pp. 527-55 8; Filliozat, Jean (1963) "La Morte Volontaire par le feu en la tradition bouddh ique indienne," Journal Asiatique 251, pp. 21-51; Jan, Yün-hua (1964-5) "Buddhist Self-Immolation in Medieval China," History of Religion 4, pp.243-268; Rahula, W . (1978), "Self-Cremation in Mahaayaana Buddhism," in Zen and the Taming of the Bull, Gordon Fraser, London; Van Loon, Louis H. (1983) "Some Buddhist Reflection s on Suicide," Religion in S! outhern Africa 4, pp. 3-12; La motte, E. (1987) "R eligious Suicide in Early Buddhism," Buddhist Studies Review 4, pp. 105-126 (fir st published in French in 1965); Harvey, Peter (1987) "A Note and Response to 'T he Buddhist Perspective on Respect for Persons'," Buddhist Studies Review 4, pp. 99-103; Becker, Carl B. (1990) "Buddhist views of suicide and euthanasia," Phil osophy East and West 40, pp. 543-556; Becker, Carl B. (1993), Breaking the Circl e: death and the afterlife in Buddhism. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press; Stephen Batchelor, "Existence, Enlightenment and Suicide: the Dilemma of ~Naa.naviira Thera," unpublished paper given at The Buddhist Forum, School of Or iental and African Studies, University of London, December 8th 1993. Woodward re fers to a discussion of the Channa episode in "Edmunds, Buddhist and Christian G ospels, ii, 58" but I cannot locate this passage. For more general treatments se e Thakur, Upendra (1963), The History of Suicide in India. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal; Suicide in Different Cultures, ed. Norman L. Farberow, Baltimore: Un iversity Park Press, 1975; Young, Katherine K. (1989), "Euthanasia: Traditional Hindu Views and the Contemporary Debate," in Hindu Ethics. Purity, Abortion, and Euthanasia, eds. Harold G. Coward, Julius J. Lipner, and Katherine K. Young, Mc Gill Studies in the History of Religions, ed. Katherine K. Young, Albany, NY: St
ate University of New York Press, pp. 71-130, esp. pp.103-7. There is additional literature on ritual suicide in Japan (seppuku), but I see this practice as bou nd up with the Japanese Samurai code and as owing little to Buddhism (Becker app arently disagrees).Return . 1922:25. In a more recent encyclopedia entry Marilyn J. Harran writes: "Bud dhism in its various forms affirms that, while suicide as self-sacrifice may be appropriate for the person who is an arhat, one who has attained enlightenment, it is still very much the exception to the rule" s.v. "Suicide (Buddhism and Con fucianism)" in The Encyclopedia of Religion, ed. in chief Mircea Eliade (New Yor k: Macmillan), vol. 14 p.129.Return . 1922:8.Return . Views of this kind with certain variations are expressed by Poussin (1922), Wiltshire (1983), van Loon (1983), Lamotte (1987), Taniguchi, Shoyu (1987) "A S tudy of Biomedical Ethics from a Buddhist Perspective," unpublished MA Thesis, B erkeley: Graduate Theological Union and the Institute of Buddhist Studies, p.8689, Young (1989), Florida, Robert E. (1993) "Buddhist Approaches to Euthanasia," Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses 22, pp. 35-47, p.41.Return . 1983:134.Return . On the criteria for moral evaluation in Buddhism see Peter Harvey "Criteria for Judging the Unwholesomeness of Actions in the Texts of Theravaada Buddhism, " Journal of Buddhist Ethics 2 1995: 140-151. See also Keown, Damien (1995), Bud dhism & Bioethics. (London: Macmillan), pp. 37-64.Return . It may be objected that it is impossible to murder without desire or hatred . Regardless of whether this is psychologically true, the theoretical possibilit y of desireless murders being regarded as not immoral reveals the inadequacy of the subjectivist account. Another defect in the account is that the gravity of m urders would be nothing more than a function of the amount of desire present. A "crime of passion," therefore, would be far more serious than a random "drive-by " shooting. The fact that courts often take an opposite view gives cause to ques tion this conclusion.Return . This is suggested at Miln. 195f.Return . As suggested, for example, by Florida, Robert E. (1993) "Buddhist Approach es to Euthanasia," Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses 22, pp. 35-47, p.45. Cf. Poussin, "In the case of "Saakyamuni we have to deal with a voluntary death " (op cit). We must bear in mind, however, that the Buddha had rejected Maara's overtures in this direction at the start of his teaching career (D.ii.102) and d id so again three months before his death (D.ii.99).Return . The story of the hungry tigress is found in the Jaataka-maala and the Suva r.naprabhaasottama-suutra.Return . See Fairbairn, Gavin J. (1995), Contemplating Suicide. London: Routledge, pp. 144ff. Fairbairn suggests that seppuku is not suicide since the samurai does not seek to end his life, but only to perform his duty.Return . For example S.v.344 (Diighaavu); S.iv.55, M.iii.263 (Channa); S.iii.119 (V akkali); S.iii.124 (Assajji); M.iii.258, S.v.380 (Anaathapi.n.dika).Return . V.5.230(167):2. bhagavataa kho aavuso gilaanupa.t.thaana.m va.n.nita.m. Re ferences in this format are to the BUDSIR edition of the Thai Tipi.taka on CD-RO M. The present reference is to volume V, p.230, paragraph (or item) 167, line 2. Return
. It is unclear whether Godhika is suffering from an illness or not.Return . In the case of Channa item 2 is absent and Saariputta and Mahaa Cunda visi t on their own initiative.Return . 1983:132.Return . The same may be said of the 137 occurrences of kaalam akaasi ("died").Retu rn . I take this (with the commentary) in a literal sense to mean that a knife (or similar sharp instrument) was actually employed. The commentary states that Channa "severed his windpipe" (ka.n.thanaala.m chindi). It is possible that "usi ng the knife" could be a locution which denotes suicide by any means, but I thin k this unlikely given that, as Wiltshire notes (1983:130), a razor is part of a monk's "kit" (although apparently not referred to as sattha). It seems likely th at "using the knife" is meant in a literal sense, since the layman who commits s uicide at M.ii.109f is not said to have "used the knife" but to have cut or ripp ed himself open (attaana.m upphaalesi). Return . 1983:132.Return . Other canonical suicides include those of the unnamed monks in the Vinaya whose deaths led to the promulgation of the third paaraajika. At M.ii.109f (supr a) a husband kills his wife and then himself so they will not be separated. Case s of attempted suicide leading to enlightenment include those of the monk Sappad aasa in the Theragaathaa (408), and the nun Siihaa in the Theriigaathaa (77) (bo th discussed by Sharma, 1987:123f. Cf Rahula 1978:22f). At Ud. 92f. the aged Arh at Dabba rises in the air and disappears in a puff of smoke. There is a similar passage on Bakkula at M.iii.124-8.Return . Maa bhaayi Vakkali -- apaapaka.m te mara.na.m bhavissati apaapikaa kaalaki riyaa.Return . It may be intended as simple reassurance to Vakkali that he has nothing to fear from death, or a prediction that he will die an Arhat.Return . Kindred Sayings, vol. IV p.33. In her introductory essay to the Majjhima t ranslation Horner seems to suggest that the compilers of the canon had actually "rigged" the text in order to exonerate Channa. Of the Buddha's exonerating stat ement she writes "they make him [the Buddha] sanction the unworthy act of the po or little sufferer" (p. xi.).Return . The use of the word "blameworthy," however, is unusual. The Buddha does no t elsewhere describe those who are reborn as "blameworthy."Return . For example, when asked about worshipping the six directions in the Sigaal ovaada-sutta he deftly switches the context to social relationships.Return . This distinction is made clear in Catholic teachings. The Declaration on E uthanasia prepared by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stat es: "Intentionally causing one's own death, or suicide, is therefore equally as wrong as murder -- although, as is generally recognized, at times there are psyc hological factors present that can diminish responsibility or even completely re move it" (Boston: St. Paul's Books and Media, 1980), p.7.Return . This is similar to Christ's reaction to the woman taken in adultery: in de fending the woman with the words "Neither do I condemn thee," (John 8, 11) Chris t is not endorsing adultery but displaying compassion for the woman who has sinn
ed.Return . 1983:132.Return . Three Channas are known in the canon: a paribbaajaka, Gotama's charioteer, and the elder (thera) who commits suicide. Details in DPPN.Return . Sutta 144.Return . In the Majjhima-nikaaya it occurs in The Division of the Sixfold Base (Sal aayatanavagga), the fifth and last division of the "final fifty" (upari-pa.n.naa sa). Here, it is the second of the five "advisory" (ovaada) style discourses whi ch form the first half of the division. In the Sa.myutta-nikaaya it is found in the Salaayatana-sa.myutta, where the rationale for its inclusion seems to be the passage in which Saariputta gives teachings to Channa about the six sense-consc iousnesses [S.18.72(107):10ff.].Return . aabhaadhiko hoti dukkhito baalhagilaano.Return . The nature of Channa's complaint is not easy to diagnose from these sympto ms. One medical opinion I have received is as follows: "The head pain is typical of migraine, which is universal and has been recognized for centuries. Other ca uses may be an intracranial tumour causing raised intracranial pressure, but thi s is often accompanied by vomiting and specific neurological signs which appear to be missing in this description. The abdominal pain is more difficult. Periton itis causes this kind of severe, unremitting pain, and may result from any cause which leads to peritoneal infection such as a ruptured appendix, perforated ulc er, leaking bowel etc. Another cause of such pain could be a strangulated intest ine, often due to vascular causes in older people or to twisting of the bowel wi th loss of blood supply. A third cause in this region of the world could be inte stinal infection such as cholera or typhoid, often accompanied by diarrhoea. The general! body pain is most difficult. There are not many things that cause gene ralized pain. This is typical of myalgia, aching of the muscles, and it may occu r in severe generalized infections, often of viral origin, and in rare metabolic diseases of muscle in which certain enzymes are lacking. The combination is str ange." I am grateful to my brother Dr Paul A. Keown for this opinion (personal c ommunication 23rd September 1995). A second opinion, for which I am indebted to Dr Steven Emmett is as follows: "Both the head and abdominal pain are 'sharp' wh ich tends to point to a vascular phenomenon, but the pain throughout the body te nds to points to an infectious etiology -- though any severe process can have co ncomitant body pain -- my guesses would be lupus erythematosus, viral illness, a nd possibly syphilis, though I don't know if it were present in that area of the world at that time, and what would be the chances of holy men contracting it -assuming two people had similar illnesse! s at the same time (I don't know h ow far apart in time the two suttas were) -- but if they were coeval, then an infe ctious illness, presumably viral, though possibly bacterial, would be the cause" (personal communication, 14th September 1995).Return . Sattha.m aavuso Saariputta aaharissaami naavaka.nkhaami jiivitan ti. Retur n . Maayasmaa Channo sattha.m aaharesi, yaapetaayasmaa Channo yaapenta.m maya. m aayasmanta.m Channa.m icchaama.Return . In her translation of the Majjhima passage, Horner seems to suggest that C hanna regards his previous reverence for the teacher as the justification for hi s planned course of action: "No, friend Saariputta. I am not without proper food . I have it. I am not without proper clothing. I have it. I am not without fit a ttendants. I have them. I myself, friend, waited on the Master for many a long d ay with service that was delightful, not tedious. That, friend, is the proper th
ing for a disciple to do. 'In so far as he served the Master with a service that was delightful, not tedious, blameless (must be accounted) the brother Channa's use of the knife': so should you uphold, friend Saariputta." Kindred Sayings, v ol.II p.31. The text reads: Eta.m hi aavuso saavakassa pa.tiruupa.m satthaara.m paricareyya manaapeneva no amanaapena ta.m anupavajja.m channo bhikkhu sattha.m aaharissatiti evameta.m aavuso saariputta dhaarehiiti. Horner's reading arises f r! om tak ing the ya.m -- ta.m construction as a separate sentence having the se nse of "In so far as -- to that extent." However, the ta.m is not present in all manuscripts, and in any event a more plausible reading is to take the ya.m clau se as correlative to the initial Eta.m rather than the ta.m, in the sense of ill ustrating what is "proper" (pa.tiruupa) to a disciple rather than announcing a s tate of affairs which is subsequently justified in the ta.m clause. Bhikkhus~Naa "namoli and Bodhi do not follow Horner in their The Middle Length Discourses of The Buddha (Wisdom, 1995).Return . MA.10.237(390). I am grateful to Lance Cousins for his observation that th e commentary apparently takes the term as deriving from the root VRAJ (to go, wa lk, proceed). This term includes associations with rebirth: "with punar 'to retu rn to life'" (Monier Williams, s.v. VRAJ). Another possible derivation is from P AD. See CPD s.v. "an-upavajja." Woodward suggests: "Sa-upavajjo (culpable: reall y 'attended by a supporter')" (1922:8).Return . Nanu te Saariputta channena bhikkhunaa sammukhaaya eva anupavajjataa byaak ataa ti.Return . DPPN s.v. "Channa."Return . Upavajjakulaaniiti upasa"nkamitabbakulaani. This seems to confirm the deri vation from Sanskrit upavrajya, "to be gone to." Cf. CPD "upa-vajja."Return . Or, "who are blameworthy."Return . Honti hete Saariputta Channassa bhikkhuno mittakulaani suhajjakulaani upav ajjakulaaniiti. Na kho panaaha.m Saariputta ettaavataa saupavajjoti vadaami. Yo kho Saariputta ima~nca kaaya.m nikkhipati a~n~na~nca kaaya.m upaadiyati tamaha.m saupavajjoti vadaami. Ta.m Channassa bhikkhuno natthi. Anupavajja.m Channena bh ikkhunaa sattha.m aaharitanti evameta.m Saariputta dhaarehiiti [S.18.74(111)].Re turn . It introduces this explanation in its elucidation of the word "Therefore" (tasmaa). "Therefore" means that [this teaching is given] because Channa was una ble to bear the great pain and said he would use the knife. The venerable Channa was not enlightened (puthujjana), so Mahaa Cunda tells him to pay attention to this teaching. (Tasmaati yasmaa maara.nantikavedana.m adhivaasetu.m asakkonto sa ttha.m aaharaamiiti vadati, tasmaa. Putthujano aayasmaa, tena idampi manasikaroh iiti diipeti.)Return . The same claim is made about Vakkali and Godhika. The concept of the samas iisii is put to good use by the commentary in these cases. Buddhaghosa explains there are three kind of samasiisii. i) Iriyaapatha-samasiisii: someone selects o ne of the four postures and resolves not to change posture until they attain Arh atship. The change of posture and Arhatship occur together. ii) Rogasamasiisii: someone recovers from an illness and attains Arhatship at the same time. iii) Ji ivita-samasiisii: the destruction of the aasavas (aasavakkhaya) and the end of l ife (jiivitakkhaya) occur simultaneously. It is the third which is intended here [SA.11.175(159):6-11].Return . Kindred Sayings V. p.33Return . Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy, Part 1, Section 4, Member 1. Quo
ted in Battin, Margaret Pabst (1982), Ethical Issues in Suicide. Englewood Cliff s, NJ: Prentice Hall, p. 53.Return . There are cases of "sudden enlightenment" reported in Pali sources as well as Mahaayaana ones. Rahula writes: "Examples of this kind of 'sudden' awakening or 'sudden' attainment of arahantship are not lacking also in Pali commentaries ." He cites three examples, the last from the Theragaathaa commentary which is o f relevance to our present theme: "Mahaanaama Thera, living on a mountain, was t horoughly disgusted with his life because he was not successful in getting rid o f such impure thoughts as lust, and just at the moment when he was about to comm it suicide by jumping from the top of a rock, he attained arahantship." Rahula, W. (1978), Zen and the Taming of the Bull. Towards the Definition of Buddhist Th ought, London: Gordon Fraser, p.22. At S.v.69f someone attains enlightenment at the moment of death.Return . 1983:134. Wiltshire does not say where this is "made quite clear." In fact -- as already noted-- the main text makes no pronouncement on the matter one way or the other, and contains nothing inconsistent with the view that Channa was a n Arhat before the time he began to contemplate suicide. Poussin, in his entry o n suicide in the Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, gives the suicides of Vak kali and Godhika as examples of suicide by Arhats, but gives no evidence for his claim that they were Arhats. In his capsule summary of Godhika's suicide, moreo ver, he states "Godhika reached arhatship just after he had begun cutting his th roat." This hardly counts as a suicide by an Arhat. What is most surprising, how ever, is the absence of any reference to Channa in his entire discussion. Return . D.iii.235. At D.iii.133 nine things are mentioned, and the commentary says that even a stream-winner is not capable of such things (DA.iii.913).Return . With reference to Gosaala, Poussin cites Uvaasagadasaao, app. ii. p. 23 an d comments: "Suicide is permitted to ascetics who have reached the highest degre e of perfection" (1922:25).Return . This line of though, which I cannot pursue here, was suggested to me by Ri chard Gombrich's article "The Buddha and the Jains. A Reply to Professor Bronkho rst" (Asiatische Studien XLVIII, 4, 1994: 1069-1096). The Pali canon suicide cas es could provide interesting evidence in connection with Bronkhorst's theory reg arding "non-authentic" elements in the Buddhist texts. The criterion for such ex amples is as follows: "Perhaps the only hope ever to identify non-authentic elem ents in the Buddhist texts is constituted by the special cases where elements wh ich are recorded to have been rejected by the Buddha, yet found their way into t he texts, and, moreover, are clearly identifiable as belonging to one or more mo vements other than Buddhism" (quoted by Gombrich, p.1070). The suicide cases see m to fit this requirement in every way: suicide is rejected by the Buddha (in th e Vinaya and elsewhere, see note infra), finds its way into the texts (in the th ree suic! ide cases), and is identifiable as a Jain practice. Whether these case s add weight to Bronkhorst's theory, however, is another matter. Return . Vin.iii.71.Return . Certainly from the time of St. Augustine onwards. The anomalous cases in t he O.T. are explained by St.Thomas as exceptions resulting from a direct command by God. On suicide in the early Church see Amundsen, Darrel W. (1989), "Suicide and Early Christian Values," in Suicide and Euthanasia, ed. Baruch A. Brody, Do rdrecht, Boston, London: Kluwer Academic Publishers, pp. 77-153. With reference to Judaism and Christianity see Droge, A.J. and J.D. Tabor A Noble Death: Suicid e and Martyrdom among Christians and Jews in Antiquity. San Francisco: Harper Co llins, 1991. With reference to classical antiquity see van Hooff, Anton J.L. Fro m Autothanasia to Suicide. Self-Killing in Classical Antiquity. London: Routledg e, 1990.Return
. Reasons why Buddhism might be opposed to suicide include the following: 1) It is an act of violence and thus contrary to the principle of ahi.msaa. 2) It is against the First Precept. 3) It is contrary to the third paaraajika (Cf. Mil n. 195). 4) It is stated that "Arahants do not cut short their lives" (na . . . apakka.m paatenti) Miln. 44, cf. D.ii.32/DA.810 cited by Horner (Milinda's Quest ions, I.61n.). Saariputta says that an Arhat neither wishes for death not wishes not to die: it will come when it comes (Thag. vv.1002-3). 5) Suicide destroys s omething of great value in the case of a virtuous human life and prevents such a person acting in the service of others (Miln. 195f.) Wiltshire states that altr uism is also cited in the Paayaasi Sutta as a reason for not taking one's life ( 1983:131). With reference to the discussion here (D.ii.330-2) he comments "This is the only passage in the Sutta Pi.taka in which the subje! ct of suicide is co nsidered in the abstract, and even then obliquely" (1983:130). Kassapa states th at the virtuous should not kill themselves to obtain the results of their good k ar ma as this deprives the world of their good influence (D.ii.330f). 6) Suicide brings life to a premature end. As Poussin expresses it: (op cit) "A man must l ive his alloted span of life . . . To that effect Buddha employs to Paayaasi the simile of the woman who cuts open her body in order to see whether her child is a boy or a girl" (D.ii.331). 7) Self-annihilation is a form of vibhava-ta.nhaa. 8) Self-destruction is associated with ascetic practices which are rejected sin ce "Buddhism had better methods of crushing lust and destroying sin" (Poussin, o p cit). 9). There is empirical evidence provided by I Tsing. Poussin notes: "The Pilgrim I-tsing says that Indian Buddhists abstain from suicide and, in general , from self-torture" (op cit). 10) As noted above, Saariputta's immediate reacti on is to dissuade Channa in the strongest terms from taking his life. Saariputta 's reaction suggests that suicide was not regarded among the Buddha's senior dis ciples as an option even ! meriti ng discussion.Return . Foundation of Morals, Section/Paragraph 5, quoted in Battin, Margaret Pabs t (1982), Ethical Issues in Suicide. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. p. 74. Return . On life as a basic value for Buddhism see Buddhism & Bioethics, pp. 44-50. Return
----------------------------------------Suicide as seen in Islam What is life? The Islamic concept The philosophy of joy and pain The classical origin of suicide The traditions of the Testaments The Qur'anic decree The modern implications Why suicide?!? The statistical domain The deterrent factor
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------Every breath of a human, every moment of his or hers life in all Religious tradi tions, their teachings, their guidance, their viewpoints, their perspectives is worth more than a priceless gem. These breaths the human being takes in order to
survive in life and the moments of life itself are like the pearls of a necklac e. Just as a pearl will embellish the appearance of that neck that wears the nec klace of pearls, in the same way the life of a individual is enhanced by that pe rson who looks after the moments of his life. No Treasure trove of any Ruler, no Sultanate of any Sultan, no Kingdom of any King, no Rulership of any Queen in t antamount is equal in value to one moment of an individuals life. Life in-fact i n numerous places of the Quraan, either directly or indirectly, is described by Allah as a favour on human beings. In one verse of the Quraan, Allah says, " How can you disbelieve? Seeing that you were dead and He gave you life. Then H e will give you death, then again will bring you to life (on the Day of Resurrec tion) and then unto Him you will return." (Surah Al-Baqarah Verse 28) Out of all the bounties Allah has bestowed upon human beings, the most precious is the gift of life. Each one us should remember that this life Allah has grante d us, it is not our personal possession or our personal property. In-fact it is a trust from Allah, making us merely trustees. Because we are trustees we should utilise each and every moment of our lives in the paths that please Allah. In one verse of the Quraan Allah informs mankind, "And I (Allah) created not the jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me (Alone)". (Surah Adh-Dhariyat Verse 56) From this verse we can learn the reason why Allah created mankind. How precious is this gift of life, we can learn through the Holy Quraan, Ahadeet h (Traditions and Sayings of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him)) and the Shari ah (Islamic Law). For instance, in one verse of the Quraan, Allah says, "He has forbidden you only the carrion (flesh of dead animals), and blood, and f lesh of swine, and that which is slaughtered as a sacrifice for others than Alla h (or has been slaughtered for idols, on which Allah’s Name has not been mentioned whilst slaughtering). But if one is forced by necessity without wilful disobedi ence nor transgressing due limits, then there is no sin on him. Truly, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful."(Surah Al-Baqarah Verse 173) In the closing stages of this verse Allah talks about one who is forced to consu me Haraam (unlawful) items due to the fear of death. Allah says, then there is n o sin in him. For example, one is in severe hunger, such hunger that could lead to ones death, he consumes something that is Haraam (unlawful) e.g. Carrion, on the Day of Judgement he will not be questioned regarding these Haraam (Unlawful) items he consumed in order to save his life. Similarly one is fasting in the Mo nth of Ramadhaan and severe thirst over-takes him, again it is permissible for h im to break his fast in order to saves ones life. Even if he broke the fast by c onsuming Haraam (Unlawful) fluids e.g. Blood, Alcohol he will not be questioned regarding this. From this verse we can undoubtedly acknowledge how precious and valuable life is in the eyes of The Almighty Allah.
Life in many people’s opinion is a journey. Some even sees it as a pilgrimage. In the Islamic perspective it is a journey far beyond death. It is like a trip arou nd the world. We stop in many different Continents, Countries, Cities, Towns and Villages. Some bring happiness and some give us grief. The white beaches, beaut iful rainforests, buildings etc would force a smile on the face of many a person regardless of what grief he is in, but the sight of the poor, war-stricken and weak will give one intense grief. Life is a test from Allah, He tests people in various ways and times. He tests some by blessing them with countless bounties t o see if the servant appreciates what he has been blessed with by Allah and he s hows gratitude towards Allah for blessing him with these bounties. At times Alla h in his infinite wisdom, puts a person in intense grief, to see if the servant turns to Allah and seeks guidance and help. Excellent examples of both situations are found in the life and story of the Pro
phet of Allah, Ayyub (AS). Allah granted him many bounties, then he gave him suc h illness that the people around him could not bear. Prophet Ayyub (AS) turned t o Allah for help and Allah in his infinite mercy returned all the past bounties upon him. In some narrations it has been said that Allah gave him more bounties than the amount he had before his illness. In the Quraan Allah has mentioned the call for help of Prophet Ayyub (AS). Allah says: "And (Remember) Ayyub (Job), when he cried to his Lord: "Verily, distress has se ized me, and you are the Most Merciful of all those who show mercy". So We answe red his call, and removed the distress that was on him, and We restored his fami ly to him (that he had lost) and the like thereof along with them as a mercy fro m Ourselves and a reminder for all those who worship Us. (Surah Al-Anbiya Verse 83-84) In another Surah of the Quraan Allah says regarding Prophet Ayyub (AS): "And remember Our slave Ayyub (Job), when he invoked his Lord (saying):"Verily S atan has touched me with distress (by ruining my health) and torment (by ruining my wealth)! (Allah said to him): "Strike the ground with your foot: This is (a spring of) water to wash in, cool and a (refreshing) drink". And We gave him bac k his family, and along with them the like thereof, as a Mercy from Us, and a Re minder for those who understand."And take in your hand a bundle of thin grass an d strike therewith (your wife), and break not your oath. Truly, We found him pat ient. How excellent a slave! Verily, he was ever oft- returning in repentance (t o Us). Like Prophet Ayyub, each and every one of us is tested by Allah in someway or an other. Some turn to Allah and seek help, as in the case of Prophet Ayyub and oth ers turn completely to the opposite side, which leaves many in grief. These peop le upon whom many grieve and mourn are the people who have turned to suicide.
Suicide, or self-killing, has been known throughout the whole of recorded histor y and has been a phenomenon in every culture and social setting. It was noted in the Biblical Times within the Jewish and Christian faiths. It is mentioned in t he Bhagavad Gita within the Hindu faith, in classical Greece and Rome, and later throughout the Middle-Ages, when the reaction to the heresy of suicide was seve re hostility from the Universal Church, whose later fathers railed against the c anonical sin of despair. Suicide occurs in every culture, not only in the Western developed world, but al so in India, China and, despite severe theological prohibitions, in Islam.
Within the Judaeo-Christian tradition, there are eleven instances of suicide des cribed in the Bible s Old Testament and one in the New Testament. Perhaps the mo st famous death in the former is the suicide of King Saul following his defeat i n the hands of the Philistines, heard in David’s lament, and ‘how are the mighty fal len’. Saul had sought the assistance of his bodyguard to help kill himself. The so ldier was horrified at the irreligious notion of killing his appointed King, and turned the sword upon himself. Saul, apparently aided by such an example, then followed suit. It appears that the avert prohibition against suicide was first f ormerly pronounced by Saint Augustine, who in his City of God describes the acti on as a ‘moral sin’. The Church did not always condemn suicide when, for example, following some seve re assault, such as rape, the victim took a ‘virtuous’ or honourable way out. She co uld then claim sympathy and the forgiveness of her society and family, in both R oman and Christian times.
As shown, neither the Judaic nor Christian parts of the Bible are there direct i
njunctions against suicide. However, this is not the case in the traditions of t he true religion, Islam, which continues to be a major influence upon many Islam ic people. There are a few quite specific sanctions expressed in the Quraan against self-ki lling. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) also assigns suicide to the lower levels of He ll. Allah says explicitly in the Quraan, "And do not kill yourselves. Surely, Allah is Most Merciful to you". (Surah An-N isa Verse 29) In another verse of the Quraan, Allah says: "And do not throw yourselves in destruction". (Surah Al-Baqarah Verse 195) The impact of this injunction still has considerable force in Islamic countries, and it may be one reason why, with the exception of Jordan and Turkey, there is no recorded suicide in national statistics of the Islamic Nations. But, in the last decade or so there has been a substantial increase of suicide in Muslims li ving in Non-Muslim countries, namely Britain and America.
The current attitude and dilemmas, unlike in previous times, suicide can be disc ussed relatively easily today, even within the mass media of the late twentieth century. For example, in the worldwide magazine Time there have been three major articles concerning suicide, which while acknowledging dilemmas, were mainly co ncerned with where firm baselines should be drawn, accepting without question th e ‘obvious’ rationality of such actions in many situations. Yet a little more than 1 00 years ago, Robert Louis Stevenson, in what was considered to be a horrendous book, The Suicide Club, found himself almost at the extreme end of the case of l anguage, because he could not describe in sufficiently villainous terms the lead er of this ‘devilish’ club. Constantly, modern poets and novelist have almost celebr ated suicide.
The reasons that lead a person to commit suicide are as numerous and complex as the thousands of people who do so every year. Below are a few contributing cause s of suicide: Unipolar affective disorder (Depression) The mental disorder usually called ‘depression’ is now described as ‘unipolar affectiv e disorder’. The term depression is of course problematic, in that a low mood, or sometimes a feeling of emotional glumness, of living ‘out of sorts’ or ‘fed up’, is a fr equent experience for many people. In this sense it is ‘normal’ and many people can feel ‘depressed’ without having depression. There is another side to this coin, wher e a person can feel particularly well, ‘on a high’ or with a feeling of well being. This can be the experience of a large number of people without it being felt, th ought or obseverd as a problem or a disorder. A person simply feels in a ‘good moo d’. The causes of depression are many: 1. Mood: There is a profound disturbance of mood, which is one of the prevailing sadness and misery. 2. Cognition (To think deeply): There is an important disturbance of cognition, so that everything around them is interpreted dismally. Sufferers can believe th ey are hateful, worthless and, at the extreme, that they are already dead and re sponsible for the evils in the world. 3. Energy: There are very often tell-tale changes in mood and energy, in which t he mood is especially low in the early morning hours, with relative lighting of misery in the afternoon. 4. Sleep: There is a disturbance of sleep, where it is quite usual for a person to be able to sleep almost as soon as going to bed, but with early waking, somet imes accompanied by quite enclosed changes of mood. 5. Appetite: There is a loss in appetite, and an apparently liked food turns to
such, that you cannot bear the sight of it. 6. Stress: Stress at work, home, school etc can cause severe depression which ca n lead to suicide. Isolation and detachment One of the most common sentiments expressed by many of those who resort to suici dal behaviour is a sense of detachment from others. This is not so much physical isolation but refers more to a sense of moral insulation, where the individual has come to define his, or her, situation as so hopeless that others cannot help to put it right. Substance misuse (Drugs and alcohol) Addiction to drugs and alcohol, in this day and age, has become a major factor, which leads a person to suicide. In the past few months the media around the wor ld have shown many cases of suicide due to drug use. Some have also predicted if drugs like cannabis was to be made legal, the death toll will increase due to t his. The media have shown the devastating effects suicide has on the society aro und the world through drug use. Loss of family or friends One may feel isolated after the death or separation from family members or frien ds. Loss of a relative/friend causes immense grief, which may cause one to think about suicide. Some commit suicide thinking they will join the dead in the grav e. Relationship break-ups This many times has the same effect as the death of a loved one. Sometimes it ma y, make some feel life is not worth living. Financial problems One who is large debts, thinking he will never be able to pay-up and may resort to suicide, thinking he will no more have this burdensome responsibility on his head, leaving his next of kin this problem. Sickness and disability Severe sicknesses, which one cannot bear, can lead one to take his life. In many cases taking help from others in doing this act (Euthanasia). (Above are only a few reasons why one may resort into taking his own life. Many others can be found through thorough research.) Few events in life have the same impact on us as the suicide of a friend or a lo ved one. The loss of a loved one, from any cause, brings out intense grief and m ourning. The response and emotions felt by the bereaved following suicide are ve ry different to those felt after other types of deaths. The fact that a loved on e s death appears to involve an element of choice, raise painful questions which deaths from natural or accidental causes do not. Bereavement by suicide is usua lly prolonged. The grief is characterised by agonising, questioning and the sear ch for some explanation as to why the death of his loved one has happened. Berea vement in this way often encompasses strong feelings of abandonment and rejectio n. The sense of shock and disbelief following suicide is very intense. The most com mon and disturbing aspect of grief after suicide is recurring images of death, e ven if it was not witnessed. The finding of the body can be a traumatic experien ce. Going over and over the very frightening and painful images of the death, an d the feelings these create, is a normal process of grief.
Newly bereaved people always ask ‘why?’ However bereavement through suicide often in
volves a prolonged search for a reason or explanation to tragedy. Most people be reaved by suicide usually come to accept that they will never know the reason wh y a loved one did what they did. In the search for answers, different members of the same family may have different ideas as to why he/she took their life, it c ould strain family relationships, especially if an element of blame is involved. Below, I have included statistics, which I have obtained for many different sour ces, including The Samaritans (www.thesamaritans.org). · The World Health Organisation estimates that in the year 2002 approximately 1.1m illion people will die from suicide · A global mortality rate of 17 per 100,000 · One death every 40 seconds from suicide · In the last 45 years suicide rates have increased by 65% worldwide. · Suicide is now among the three leading causes of death amongst those aged 14-44( both sexes) · Suicide attempts are up to 20 times more frequent than completed suicide · Although suicide rates have traditionally been highest amongst the elderly, rate s among young people have been increasing to such a rate that they are now the g roup at highest risk in a third of all countries · More people die from suicide than homicide in the USA, in 1997 there were 1.5 ti mes as many suicides as homicide · Mental disorders (particularly depression and substance abuse) are associated wi th more than 90% of all causes of suicide · Males are four times more likely to die from suicide than women are. However , f emales are more likely to attempt suicide than males · 2 suicides every day by young people in the UK and Republic of Ireland · 80% of suicides by young men · Suicide accounts for a fifth of all deaths of young people · An estimated 24,000 adolescents self-harmed in 1998 – 3 every hour · Alcohol and substance misuse are significant factors in youth suicide · Contributory factors to youth suicide include unemployment, social isolation, re cent inter personal life events and difficulties with parents, peers and partner s · 6,216 suicides in the UK, 439 suicides in the Republic of Ireland · One suicide every 79 minutes in the UK and the Republic of Ireland · More than two young people commit suicide every day in the UK · Suicide figures are double the death toll from road traffic accidents · Suicide is now the second most common cause of death in the UK for young people aged between 15-24 · People who make suicide attempts or threats are not just "attention seeking", bu t are at the risk of harming themselves · Most suicidal people are undecided about living or dying, and try beforehand to let others know how they are feeling, or give clues or warnings · Somebody tries to take his own life every three minutes · In any given week, at least 463,000 people have serious thoughts about suicide · Every year around 2500 children or young people phone child-line about feeling s uicidal · Overdosing accounts for 50% of female suicides and 25% of male suicides · Under 25 year olds account for 9.26% of all suicides in East Lancashire. Of whic h 2.3% are of Asian heritage Statistics about suicide are difficult to collate, and many are inaccurate beca use of the sensitivity of the issue. According to some research suicide rates ar e 50%-60% higher than the official rate.
There are three areas where the law is relevant to suicide. First, while attempt ing to commit suicide has not been illegal in Britain since 1961, it is still a
criminal offence under the ‘Suicide Act 1961’ to help someone commit suicide. Second , health professionals who do not take reasonable precautions to safeguard a sui cidal patient who then goes on to commit suicide may be sued for negligence in t he civil courts. Third, in some cases, people felt to be at grave risk of harmin g themselves can be detained for their own safety under the ‘Mental Health Act 198 3’ (England and Wales), 1984 (Scotland), or ‘Mental Health Order 1986’ (Northern Irela nd). Our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) mentioned suicide many times, a few of these incidents are recorded in Muhammad Ibn Ismael s, Sahih Al-Bukhari . In one inci dent narrated by Thabit bin Ad-Dahhak (RA): the Prophet (SAW) said, "Whoever int entionally swears falsely by a religion other than Islam, then he is what he has said, (e.g. if he says, If such thing is not true then I am a Jew, he is real ly a Jew if he is a liar). And whoever commits suicide with a piece of iron, he will be punished with the same piece of iron in the Hell-fire." Narrated by Jundub: The Prophet (SAW) said, "A man was inflicted with wounds and he commited suicide, and so Allah said: My slave has caused death on himself hu rriedly, so I forbid Paradise for him." Narrated by Abu Hurairah (RA): The Prophet (SAW) said, "He who commits suicide b y throttling shall keep on throttling himself in the Hell-fire (forever), and he who commits suicide by stabbing himself, he shall keep stabbing himself in the Hell-fire (forever)." From the sayings of Allah and his Prophet (SAW), we can see suicide is not accep ted in Islam and we can also see through other sources, it is also prohibited in other religions. If one is thinking of committing suicide he should think about his friends and f amily, then he should turn to Allah and ask for his help. Talking to the Scholar s and others would also help. Confidential information is also available through your GP. Many centres also offer help for people in these troubled times. May Allah save us from this sin and give us all guidance to the straight path. M ay Allah save us from all types of grief and give us all entrance into Paradise.
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