2017 Abstracts Stage 2

Japan: A suicide nation? A philosophical investigation into the history of Japan’s high suicide rate.

This project seeks to investigate the global, social and cross-cultural phenomenon of suicide (territory). More specifically, suicide in Japan (object). The purpose of this project is to highlight and examine the possible factors as to why the average global suicide rate within the Japanese nation is so high – it is nearly twice the global average. Through exploring the History of Japan I ask the questions: ‘What is it about the Japanese culture/ society that has caused Japan to become synonymous with the act of suicide?’ And ‘Is Japan really a suicide nation?’

Areas to be explored:
Premodern Japan: The way of the Samurai and The Kamikaze Pilots.
Geographical ‘hot spots’
Suicide prevention in Japan
Japanese Psychiatry

Philosophically and ethically suicide poses difficult questions. Albert Camus states: “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide”.

Through exploring the interesting philosophical arguments put forward by Immanuel Kant and Arthur Schopenhauer the following questions in regards to suicide arise:

Does suicide violate our natural duty of self-preservation?

Does suicide achieve what it ultimately aims for (i.e. to end all suffering), or does it simply terminate superficial elements of ourselves thus achieving the opposite: affirmation of the will?

2017 Abstracts Stage 2

Student Suicide: A philosophical investigation into whether attitudes towards ‘Suicide’ have changed over time?

My project will examine whether contemporary society’s attitude towards ‘Suicide’ have changed over time?
Are we living in the past?
Are we scared to talk about mental health?

My territory is ‘Student suicide’
My object is the BBC Three documentary ‘Student Suicide: Real Stories’.
The documentary looks at how three students took their lives at University; but from the perspective of their loved ones.
Many students do not tell anyone, as they feel “ashamed”.

This project will focus on the philosophical concepts; Suicide and Morality.
Durkheim’s On Suicide investigates whether social factors affect suicide rates.
Hume’s essay ‘Of Suicide’ illustrates his views against the traditional viewpoint of suicide.
Kant’s The Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals dictates his views against suicide.

2014 Abstracts Stage 3

Morality and Suicide. Is suicide every morally permissible?

For centuries philosophers have attempted to understand the moral issues surrounding suicide and discover whether there is any objective standard by which we can truly know whether the act of suicide is a violation of our moral duties.
“There is only one really serious philosophical problem,” Camus says, “and that is suicide.

Aquinas, Kant and Hume all offer interesting arguments surrounding this moral issue. Whilst Aquinas looks at suicide from a purely theological perspective, Hume saw traditional attitudes toward suicide as muddled and superstitious; paving the way for a very modern outlook that suggests there is no rational basis for this and we can never object to suicide. Kant in contrast places significant emphasis on suicide as a violation of our personal autonomy and freedom.

Does suicide violate our duties towards God?
As reason gradually became predominant in moral discourse after the 18th Century, suicide was soon to be seen as less sinful and more rational.

Does suicide violate our duties towards society?
Whilst the law and popular practice in the middles ages sanctioned the confiscation of individual property and the denial of a Christian burial, we now regard it as a highly personal matter, rather than disturbing public order.

Does suicide violate our natural duties of self-preservation?
It is argued from a theological and a secular perspective that we have a duty to ourselves not to commit suicide as it violates our human freedom and autonomy. However we must understand that in many cases our emotions come before reason.

2010 Abstracts Stage 2

Why the Trends in Suicide Rates?

New Religious Movements?

Aims: philosophically interpret the graphical data. Understand firstly why, since the beginning of postmodernity, suicide rates have dropped so significantly, halving in number on average. Secondly why they were inclining prior to this?

Sources: Oliver James’s ‘Affluenza’, Durkheim’s ‘Suicide’, and antisecularization theses.

2007 Abstracts Stage 3

Can putting an end to your own life ever be morally acceptable?

Topic: In this project I am going to be looking at what triggers people to get to the stage where they feel the only way out is to put an end to their life. Aims: The aim of this project is to get a balanced view of how and why people reach the point where they believe that the only way forward is to bring about their own death. I shall attempt to do this by looking a very diverse set of sources in order to show that there can never be a reason that can be applied to all cases. I have chosen to look at the work of Peter Singer, Jonathon Glover and the Christian perspective on the value of life in order to discuss whether it can ever be morally acceptable to bring about your own death. I am also going to look at a range of plays mostly Greek tragedy in order to see how this topic is dealt with. Questions I shall address: Can putting an end to your own life ever be morally acceptable? Are there situations where this could be regarded as acceptable and situations where it certainly could not? Do we have an obligation to preserve life? How do people continue with their life after a failed suicide attempt? Will you always be affected by the decision you made to try and take your life? Key Sources: Peter Singer ‘Practical Ethics’, David. H.Rosen ‘A follow up study of persons who survived jumping from the Golden Gate and San Francisco- Oakland Bay Bridges’, Sophocles ‘Oedipus’ ‘Antigone’, Euripides ‘Electra’, Hunter S. Thompson’s ‘Football Season is over’ (Suicide Note), Henrik Ibsen ‘Hedda Gabler’

2005 Abstracts Stage 3

Suicide – a Question of Morality?

Traditional Objections to Suicide which I Intend to Challenge: 1. Human life is sanctified, therefore it is wrong to commit suicide. 2. Suicide is wrong because it is selfish. 3. Man is made in the image of God, therefore it is wrong to take your own life. 4. When we die is God’s decision, not ours, therefore suicide is wrong. 5. Suicide is wrong because it deprives society of an otherwise useful citizen. 6. Suicide is wrong because it is ‘unnatural’. 7. Suicide is wrong because it is a form of murder. 8. ‘Life is a gift from God’, therefore suicide is wrong. Why is Suicide Still Stigmatised? 1. The role of the media: Isn’t the media guilty of undermining the seriousness of suicide by expounding sensationalist story-lines, e.g. ‘Tony Blair committed political suicide today’? Isn’t the media also guilty of reinforcing our negative feelings towards suicide to dramatise a situation e.g. using the term ‘suicide bombers’, instead of ‘martyrs’? Doesn’t the media fail to clarify our own confusions about ‘who’ is to blame when a suicidal act occurs? 2. The semiotics of suicide: Doesn’t the language we use as regards to suicide prejudice our understanding of the term suicide, e.g. the verb ‘to commit’ reminds us of the notion of crime (reiterated by the fact that suicide was only made legal in 1961 in England) and the fact that someone who attempts suicide is considered to be a “victim” is a difficult notion to comprehend given that a victim is someone who usually has something wrongful done to them – not someone who inflicts a wrongful action onto themselves. 3. Is the solution more immoral than the problem?: Whilst we are forced to acknowledge that suicide is a problem that has to be dealt with, given our extensive research of the subject, the problem comes with trying to implement a solution. One commentator has suggested the notion of pre-emptive incarceration based upon statistical analysis of suicides? Yet, how problematic would this be? Are the statistics too broad? Or are they too specific? Is it ethical to incarcerate someone because they are a potential suicide? Does the notion of incarceration revert back to the idea that suicide is a crime? What about the financial aspects of such a scheme? Can such a scheme make any real difference given that the existing methods of dealing with suicides (e.g. telephone services) are largely ineffective? Does the solution lie in a re-structuring of society, as Durkheim suggests? What are the consequences of such a re-structuring? 4. “God is Dead” (Nietzsche), and “Life is Absurd” (Camus) but suicide remains stigmatised: When “God died”, we may have expected the traditional rejection of suicide based upon religious (in particular, Christian) arguments to die with him. Yet, this did not happen. This suggests that Christianity did not install within us a sense that “killing is wrong”; what it does suggest, however, is that this sense of repulsion towards murder (in this case, self-murder) is innate within us – Christianity merely provided the vehicle by which to expound this view. Thus, when “God dies”, our prohibitions remained.