Re-Moralizing the Suicide Debate

Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 11 (2):223-232 (2014)

Abstract

Contemporary approaches to the study of suicide tend to examine suicide as a medical or public health problem rather than a moral problem, avoiding the kinds of judgements that have historically characterised discussions of the phenomenon. But morality entails more than judgement about action or behaviour, and our understanding of suicide can be enhanced by attending to its cultural, social, and linguistic connotations. In this work, I offer a theoretical reconstruction of suicide as a form of moral experience that delineates five distinct, yet interrelated domains of understanding: the temporal, the relational, the existential, the ontological, and the linguistic. Attention to each of these domains, I argue, not only enriches our understanding of the moral realm but also provides a heuristic for examining the moral traditions and practices that constitute contemporary understandings of suicide

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