Suicide: Why Choose Life, Not Death!

Uploaded 7/14/2022, approx. 13 minute read

Like every other mental health practitioner in the world, I am deeply alarmed and unsettled by the rising tide, scuttled by the tsunami of suicidal ideation among people of all age groups in all cultures and societies throughout the world.

People just want to end their lives, they reject life, they reject reality, they reject the world they live in, they have no hope for the future, not for themselves, not for their offspring, and not for human society and species in general.

Today I want to tell you why I think you should choose life, even if it's unbearable, intolerable, difficult, you should choose life.

There are a few exceptions of course. If you've got a few months to live and your quality of life is horrible, bordering on torture, euthanasia may be the right thing to do, but otherwise with this very very slim sliver of exception, you should always choose life.

And I would like to provide you with a philosophical foundation as to why you should do that, why to not commit suicide, why suicide is not a solution.

Now you all know me, Shoshanim, you know that I'm abrasive, you know that I'm cynical, you know that I never flinch from the truth, you know that I pay no heed to social conventions and mores, you know that I don't sugarcoat anything, at least I have these credentials with you, this you can trust my adherence to the truth as I see it.

And yet I'm telling you, suicide is not a solution, life is.

I'm going to try to substantiate this very out of character, Pollyannaish, optimistic message.

My name is Sam Vaknin, I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited. I have a PhD in philosophy which helps me with this presentation and I'm also a professor of psychology and a professor of finance in several universities around the world.

Let's delve right in.

Suicidal ideation is a fancy clinical term for someone who is contemplating suicide, doing research as to methods of offing himself or herself, thinking constantly about not being, absenting himself or herself from the world.

Suicidal ideation is a precursor in many cases to actual attempted suicide and that is why it's so alarming.

Its incidents and prevalence now are very, very frightening.

Following the pandemic, on the hills of the pandemic, but not only because of the pandemic, we have seen this trend among the young, especially, depression and anxiety rates have skyrocketed and suicidal ideation.

Suicide rates in general are down in the general population, but among the young they're up.

And so this video is addressed mostly to young people.

Whenever someone tells me about their intention to end their life, I respond, staying alive is the only cogent argument for staying alive.

In other words, the only reason to stay alive is because you have to stay alive.

We stay alive simply because the alternative is not being.

Well, isn't this a cyclical argument, what we call in philosophy and tautology? Isn't it a meaningless play with words, a form of scholasticism?

Not really. Existence is always richer in potential than non-existence. Life is full of pain and frustration, but pain and frustration are not causes. They don't cause anything. They just are the same way that we are.

Now we have two options. We can exist and experience or we cannot exist. When we don't exist, our potential is zero. When we exist, the potential is large. It's not infinite as some coaches would have it. It's not unlimited.

It's not that if you put your mind to it, there's nothing which is beyond your reach. It's not that there's a giant inside you.

We forget all these scams by con artists. That's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is life is full of potentials and it's full of potentials because it's complex and because there are other people out there.

The interpersonal interactions between people are so multifarious and so complex that they cannot actually be predicted and potential is about unpredictability. It's about good and bad things that may happen to you.

When you are dead, your potential is zero. When you're alive, your potential is vast.

We should always choose potential over non-potential.

This is the way of the world. This is on a biological molecular level.

Bacteria choose potential over non-potential. Everything in the world, the whole universe, the whole creation is geared around the unfolding and actualization of potentials.

My own work in physics builds on this idea.

Potential is the key.

Pain, frustration, suffering, their phenomena, their natural forces, human-made forces, but humans are part of nature. They're there the same way that rocks and trees are there, the same way that viruses are there, the same way that other people are there. They're just there. They don't imply any action. They're not actionable.

So I hope, if you're considering suicide, that you reconsider. I want you to reconsider in view of this organizing principle of creation, potential.

Potential, the encounter with potentials and unfolding, exploring, developing your own potential.

Some of you claim to have faith – you contemplate suicide – and at the same time you claim to have faith in an afterlife, whatever that may be. You claim to have faith, but you sound as though you have lost all faith.

Suicide is the renouncing of faith.

Now, faith in God, faith in yourself, faith in the future, full of potentials, some of them good, some of them bad, definitely. Faith in experiencing, faith in other people.

Suicide is the renouncing of all faith.

So it cannot be reconciled with any faith, whether secular or religious.

You, part of creation, not creation in the design sense. I'm not implying that as a creator.

But you are part of what there is. And nothing just is. Everything is about becoming. And you are an integral part of that becoming.

You see, people confuse purpose and meaning.

However devoid of goals your life may be, your life is meaningful. Even if your life has no purpose, your life always has meaning. And it always has meaning.

Because you are an integral part of the becoming, the process of becoming of the whole universe. The universe would not be the same without you. The universe would not have been the same without you. The universe will not be the same after you are gone.

Your presence in the universe renders the universe what it is. When you choose to live rather than die, you co-create the world.

Your death renders the world instantly different, instantly other. The extent of your influence on the universe is essentially infinite because you are a defining dimension of the cosmos.

Think about it for a minute. You don't need to be a great philosopher to comprehend what I'm saying.

Think of the world without you and the world with you. These are clearly two different worlds.

So it is your presence which determines for the rest of us and for the universe at large how it's going to look, how it's going to behave and what's going to happen.

Had you not been born, reality for every atom and for every person and for every entity, reality would have been radically different. Your birth made a difference. Your existence makes a difference. Literally difference. You're altering reality. You're altering the universe by the very fact that you are still here with us.

And so you have a great responsibility and don't confuse this responsibility with having goals. It's not about having goals. It's not about having a purpose in life. It's not making a difference in the colloquial term, in the colloquial sense. It's making a difference just by being.

Even if your life is meaningless and purposeless, even if you lie in bed throughout your life and do nothing whatsoever, the fact that you and you only are in this bed doing nothing makes a difference because without you the world would not have been the same.

Purpose and action and accomplishments are the icing, the cake of your existence.

But your existence alone suffices. It's not only a gift.

The Jews believe that existence, life is a gift, a deposit, so to speak. It's not only a gift. It's also a responsibility.

You were born, so from the minute you inhaled the first atoms of air into your expanding lungs from that very second or split second, you owe it to the rest of us to maintain the world as it is with your presence in it.

You have a responsibility to keep the universe afloat, to not make it different until your time comes.

Your existence alone suffices to steer everyone and everything in another direction and towards an alternative destiny.

You are truly the co-author, the co-author of the universe.

What could be more significant than this?

Why are you looking for anything more?

Being yourself, being authentic, being here is all that matters.

When the famous French philosopher Voltaire was on his deathbed, he was asked by a priest to renounce the devil and he famously responded, it is not the time to make new enemies. Whatever you may think about Voltaire or the devil or the priest, this answer encapsulates authenticity.

Voltaire remained true to himself, to his last breath, because Voltaire understood that just being alive is all it takes to make a difference and that being true to yourself, being loyal to your quiddity and essence, is the core of existence.

Voltaire explored his potentials actively, but even had he not done so, just by pursuing his life, by not giving up on it, by not committing suicide. Voltaire had fulfilled his role in maintaining this world, this universe, this creation as it is and as it should have been because of Voltaire's presence.

Your presence has a meaning because your presence determines reality, defines it, changes it, directs it and no you don't have to do anything to earn this power. It is given to you the minute you are born.

Self-actualization is the sole engine of meaning in life, but self-actualization doesn't mean the pursuit of goals, setting purposes and kind of accumulating accomplishments.

Self-actualization means first and foremost to live, to maintain life, to not give up on it, because you see every day, every minute you're faced with a choice. Should I go on living or should I kill myself?

And every day most of us take this brave decision to go on with life, to renounce death and it surrogates suicide.

So the act of survival is active, it requires choice, it requires a mind and a consciousness.

We have the luxury that most animal species are denied to terminate, to be able to terminate our lives.

So we are forced to make this choice day in and day out and this creates a lot of anxiety in us.

The need, the compulsive need to confront life, to participate in it, to suffer and from time to time however rarely to experience joy and cheer and elation and satisfaction.

This compulsive need is onerous, it's a burden, it's our cross to bear and we all do this courageously because to live takes courage.

Regrettably in modern society we are presented with falsities, with lies, with manipulations, with life substitutes, a results life, fake life.

For example, I keep telling you in this video that the potentials in life render your life meaningful.

Not the accomplishments, not the goals, not the work, the hard work, not the purposes, not the direction, not your career, not other people, just existing in order to experience what life has to offer, what I call potentials.

So why do I rail against consumerism and sex positivity for example? Are these ostensibly intended to help us to realize our potentials?

Consumerism, isn't it about realizing our potentials?

Sex positivity, isn't it about exploring other possibilities and dimensions?

So why do I rail against these?

Because they are examples of the fake environment that modern civilization had created. This fake environment imitates life badly, but it's not life, not in the truest authentic sense.

People are forced to become less and less authentic. That's why they want to off themselves, that's why they want to kill themselves, because they feel that they don't exist anymore.

It's very easy to commit suicide when you have been long dead. It's much more difficult to dispense with life when you experience it truly and directly and maximally. When you give yourself to the flow and the flux, to the potentials and the surprises, to the suffering and pain and to the joy and cheer.

When you are directly involved, when you consummate your relationship with life, when you engage with life, it's much more difficult to let go of it because it has so much to offer and because you realize then that your very existence is the difference that you're making and that the world would never be the same without you and would have never been the same without you.

That your presence and existence here changes the entire universe, but you cannot understand this if you react exclusively with simulations of life, with simulacra, with a spectacle.

So, I rail against consumerism and sex-positivity because they both actually limit our promise.

They constrict our lives.

These are ideologies.

These ideologies are death cults.

They are death cults.

They are not life-enhancing ideologies, but they are death cults.

They objectify people and they humanize objects.

I'm going to repeat this.

Consumerism and sex-positivity objectify people and humanize inanimate objects.

And this is a great definition of death.

A modern civilization has chosen death of a life, and so it comes to us naturally, death.

We say, well, why not choose death of a life? Since all the messages we are getting everywhere through advertising, government, mass media, even social media, mainstream or not, this distinction is nonsensical. All the messages we are getting are, you are nothing but objects. You are nothing but entities to be manipulated and dispensed with. You are disposable. You are interchangeable.

And when you keep getting this message, time and again, flooded with this signaling from everywhere, it's easy to give up on life.

Modern civilization is trampling on our potential, is suppressing our promise, is constricting our lives, is confining us to literal boxes.

Consumerism and sex-positivity are only two examples, but they are great examples because they actually suppress our free will.

They present fake choices between rigidly dictated alternatives and they penalize non-conformity.

And so, when I say choose life, it's not like saying choose modernity with all its consumer goods. That's not what I'm saying.

When I'm saying choose life over death, choose existence over success, over suicide, what actually I'm saying is choose yourselves. Choose yourselves.

Realize that you are a part of creation and a very crucial one because should you subtract yourself, should you absent yourself, should you kill yourself, should you commit suicide, the world will never be the same without you.

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