A quote from, "Quotes from The Life After Death, and How Theosophy Unveils It", by C. W. Leadbeater:
"You are here for a purpose which can only be attained upon this physical plane. The soul has to take much trouble, to go through much limitation, in order to gain this earthly incarnation, and therefore its efforts must not be thrown away unnecessarily. The instinct of self-preservation is divinely implanted in our breasts, and it is our duty to make the most of this earthly life which is ours, and to retain it as long as circumstances permit. There are lessons to be learnt on this plane which cannot be learnt anywhere else, and the sooner we learn them the sooner we shall be free for ever from the need of return to this lower and more limited life. So none must dare to die until his time comes, though when it does come he may well rejoice, for indeed he is about to pass from labour to refreshment." (page 22)
[Editor's note: I take this with a grain of salt. I worked in a suicide clinic once, and I came away convinced that suicide is a human right. Everyone has the right to decide when the pain is too much. The only reason I can see for suicide is to prevent or stop torture.] EASY DEATH 2
There’s an entire sect of Buddhism whose primary prayer is for easy death. Personally, I think this is a great idea. But how to achieve it is a big question…
One form of easy death is suicide, if you do it right and you’re lucky. The trouble is, it’s very hard to pull off.
The only rationale I know for suicide is to escape the unbearable. I was reading a book called The Rare Coin Score, by Richard Stark. One of the characters in it is in love with a woman, and he says, “I long for her the way a man being tortured longs for death.”
There are many ways of committing suicide, some of them better than others. The big problem with suicide is: don’t fail. I once worked in a suicide clinic, and what emerged there was that people who are serious about killing themselves usually don’t have to try more than two or three times, but obviously it’s better to succeed the first time.
One of the best source of information on suicide that I know of is lostallhope.com. The following information is mostly from that website.
According to the American Association of Suicidology (based on a SAMHSA study), there are 25 attempts at suicide for every one success.
In young people (aged 15 - 24), the odds are between 100 and 200 to 1 against. The elderly seem a lot more successful at 4:1.
Women are three times more likely to make an unsuccessful attempt than a man, yet will attempt suicide two to three times more often. However, this does depend on their age, as younger women make many more attempts than men, whereas women older than 50 make slightly less attempts than men.
When it comes to successful suicide in the US, men account for 78% of all suicides. The popularity of the methods used also varies a little between the sexes. While for men firearms are by far the most popular, followed by suffocation/hanging and poisoning, women have poisoning as their most popular method, followed by firearms then suffocation/hanging. Given that firearms are the most reliable method, and drug poisoning one of the least successful, that may account for some of the difference in actual suicide rates between the sexes. It is also interesting to note that women have 45% more non-fatal self-harm incidences than men.
According to the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health3, in the US there were 8.3 million adults who had serious thoughts of committing suicide, and 2.3 million who had actually made plans to commit suicide. Of those, 1.1 million actually attempted suicide, but only just over 33,000 succeeded. Which would make the ratio of failure to success 33 to 1.
The WHO estimates that globally there are at least 20 suicide attempts for every success, meaning that there are least 20 million attempted suicides every year - and rising.
In the US, firearms are the most common method (50.9%). Suffocation/hanging is next (24.8%), then poisoning (16.6%). Then comes falling (2.3%), and cutting (1.8%). Then comes drowning (1.1%) and transportation-related (.4%).
Whilst individual studies might differ in terms of the actual mortality rate, they are fairly consistent that firearms and hanging are the two most effective methods. Jumping is also very effective if done from sufficient height. (I had a client who jumped off a bridge into water with about a 60 feet fall. He later said he realized halfway down he was making a terrible mistake. He survived, but he had brain damage and died about 2 years later.)
THE BEST WAY TO DIE is to die in your sleep. But this doesn’t count as suicide. It only counts as easy death.
PNEUMONIA: Pneumonia isn’t a form of suicide unless you come down with it and don’t treat it. In cowboy culture pneumonia is called “the old man’s friend”. Because it kills you relatively quickly (a week or two) and relatively painlessly.
ASSISTED SUICIDE: In Oregon assisted suicide is legal. All you have to do is be diagnosed with a fatal incurable disease. Three drugs are used, in sequence. The third drug stops the heart.
GUNS: Lostallhope.com says guns are about 98% effective, with a low amount of pain (about 5 on a scale from 1 to 100). (Two of my uncles committed suicide with guns. They were both cowboys, and lifelong hunters, so guns were natural to them.)
HIT BY TRAIN: About 96% lethal, with a low amount of pain (about 7).
JUMP FROM HEIGHT: About 93% lethal, with a low amount of pain (17). Jumping from 150 feet (46 metres) or higher on land, and 250 feet (76 metres) or more on water, is 95% to 98% fatal.
HANGING: Hanging is about 90% lethal, and with a medium amount of pain (25). The classic way of hanging people is cruel. The fall is intended to break your neck, and is quick and relatively painless if it works. But it often fails to do that, resulting in painful strangulation. (In high school I got into a tussle with my room-mate, and he choked me till I passed out. I slipped away painlessly. This makes me think that hanging done right could be painless.)
AUTO CRASH: About 80% lethal, with a medium amount of pain (30).
CARBON MONOXIDE: About 71% lethal, and a medium amount of pain (18). Probably better is to use helium. (I grew up in Afghanistan, and every year there were stories of people dying of carbon monoxide poisoning because the peasants got through the winter by sitting around a big table in one room with a charcoal fire under the table and a hole in the roof to let the fumes out.)
The classic way of using carbon monoxide is to use 6 or 8 hibachis up higher than you are, since carbon monoxide is heavier than air and flows downward.
HEROIN: Overdose is about 49% lethal, with a low level of pain (5). (It’s an open secret in the medical profession that many people with cancer actually die of a morphine overdose. The nurses keep upping the dose for pain until the patient dies. My best friend’s son died this way, and when he died my friend followed him up part of the way. He said it seemed like a good death.)
PILLS: A friend of mine had a friend who accidentally killed himself by drinking alcohol and then taking some Xanax and some Oxycontin (synthetic heroin). I don’t know what the doses were. Another friend almost killed himself by getting drunk and then taking some benzodiazepine sleeping pills.
PLASTIC BAG: About 23% lethal, with a low level of pain (3). I have a friend who had a friend who killed himself in a public park by putting some glue in a plastic bag, putting the bag over his head, and then putting a rubber band around his neck. It worked, but since I’ve never sniffed glue I don’t know what kind of glue would work or how much to use.
CUTTING WRISTS: About 6% lethal, with a high level of pain (71).
STARVATION: I’ve read that starvation is a terrible way to die. The symptoms and pain get worse and worse.
The problem with not committing suicide is that you’re leaving one of the most important events of your life up to luck. My father died on the operating table when he was 75. His doctors brought him back, and when he found out he’d been dead he was angry. It turned out he was right to be. Eight years later he had the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s, and after 7 years of intense suffering for him and his caretakers he lapsed into a coma. Mom took him to a hospital, where (because of his Living Will) he wasn’t given any feeding. It took him two weeks to starve to death, and because he wasn’t conscious he couldn’t request pain meds.
DEHYDRATION: In Africa it’s said that people can decide to die. Typically they sit down somewhere, and three days later they’re dead. It sounds to me like they die from lack of water. From what I read, this is also a terrible way to die. The symptoms and the pain are horrible.
FREEZING: Freezing to death is cold at first. At first you shiver, then you feel apathetic, and then you sink into a stupor. Towards the end, you feel so warm you throw your clothes off. You grow colder and increasingly numb, and then drift slowly off into oblivion. Some who come near to death and then recover describe having hallucinations before becoming unconscious, others of becoming "giggly" and regressing to a child-like state.
"Freezing to death is one of the most peaceful and non-violent ways of natural dying. After the shivering stops and you slip into hypothermia, it's pretty much a warm and fuzzy sensation until you slowly doze off as your vital organs slowly begin to shutdown." quoted from Fire and Ice, The Battles