Suicide is the act of killing oneself intentionally and voluntarily. According to the American Psychological Association, it is considered to be the result of depression or some other mental illness. The World Health Organisation regards suicide as a serious public health problem.
In Arendt’s We Refugees, she explains how the first non-religious Jews persecuted, answered with suicide. Unlike the non-religious Jews, the pious Jews considered suicide an unthinkable act, “they perceived murder in suicide” (p.112). According to the pious Jews, one who commits suicide establishes that their life is not worth living, and the world is not worth protecting them. Subsequently, suicide, similar to murder, is an attack on creation as a whole. Arendt argues that the suicides committed by persecuted non-religious Jews was not a rebellious defiance against life. Rather, from their childhood they felt entitled to a certain social standard. They consider themselves failures if they can not maintain this standard. Instead of dying from a type of rebellious act, they die from a type of selfishness.
It is fascinating for me to observe how people react to suicide, whether it is ‘justifiable’, ‘unjustifiable, ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. I have constantly been taught that suicide is ‘wrong’, or ‘never an option’ from my family, my educational system, and the media. I strongly believe in the philosophical perspective Arendt mentions, which is that suicide is the last and supreme guarantee of human freedom (p. 111). However, it was intriguing to read how the pious Jews considered suicide an attack on creation as a whole, and how Arendt considered suicide of non-religious Jews as a type of selfishness. I was expecting Arendt to defend the stance that them committing suicide was a rebellious sort of act, almost victorious in nature. It was interesting to see suicide depicted negatively from both stances, however for different reasons.World Health Organization "Suicide." Accessed 4 Jan 2018. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs398/en/. American Psychological Association "Suicide." Accessed 4 Jan 2018. http://www.apa.org/topics/suicide/. Arendt, Hannah. "We Refugees" Altogether Elsewhere: Writers o Exile. ed. Marc Robinson. 110-116. Boston: Faber and Faber, 1994.