If you knew that suicide is not immoral, would it be virtuous to kill yourself - not because you were in pain and needed to escape - but merely due to a wish to end yourself before you fell into vice?

I think it could be meaningful but perhaps impossible: am I wrong?

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    Vice is there for a reason, don't fall into it, or at least try. That requires hard work, and heartbreak, and overcoming temptation and frustration. That's the virtue. Wishing to avoid hardship is just another name for giving up and seeking escape. Suicide is immoral for a reason, getting an easy out is hardly the idea of virtue.
    – Conifold
    Aug 15 at 22:25
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    John McDowell, a contemporary philosopher, once commented somewhere something like "philosophy is mainly for therapeutic use". So maybe concentrate your effort and time on learning philosophy (not as escape or pain) as a self-therapeutist would protect you falling to vice? At least no sane person claims philosophy is vice though it may be dead... Aug 15 at 22:41
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    I'm pretty sure the counterfactual makes the rest of the question meaningless. You appear to have posited suicide to be not-wrong in and of itself - as opposed to a wrong outweighed by other goods or averted wrongs (consequentialism), or something that is usually wrong but not in some circumstances of dire need (deontology). To get suicide to be intrinsically not-wrong, life has to lack the capacity to have value - at which point you've ruled out all the popular deontological and consequentialist approaches to morality.
    – g s
    Aug 16 at 5:57
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    This sounds very much like a problem with religious thinking. If your religion is convincing you you're such a bad person, that ending your life would be the best thing you can do for the world (which I strongly doubt), then I can only recommend you first spend some time thinking what value this belief system is actually offering you (apart from hopes of eternal life), and what it's based on. Plenty of atheists are happier after leaving religion. I'd also strongly recommend speaking to a mental health professional. Suicidal ideation is usually a result of treatable or temporary conditions.
    – NotThatGuy
    Aug 16 at 7:42
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    Black hole ... sphag ... sphage ... tti ... unnh! 😵 Aug 16 at 10:15

4 Answers 4


Here's a view from my Catholic background.

Is Suicide Immoral?

Some actions truly are neutral. How I like my steak done is not something likely to be weighed upon in the courts of Judgement (though the way some people talk, you'd be forgiven for thinking well-done was worthy of perdition).

If suicide is a morally neutral action, then it does not merit entry into Heaven; so what does?

If suicide is a morally positive action with your given motives, then can it merit entry into Heaven alone for the reasons you have described? That is, the desire to be with the creator?

A few different cults spring to mind when I consider this notion. Heaven's Gate seems to be the most obvious one; the desire to shed this world to be with the Higher.

One thing strikes me as the most obvious problem with this view; if it's true, it creates a death cult immediately, and the only rational action for anyone in a state of grace is to immediately commit suicide. Beyond the argument that this is patently absurd, it also doesn't mesh well with orthodox theology regarding God as a being of Life and Goodness.

The State of Grace

Perhaps more importantly, your proposition also requires that the soul be in a state of grace. That is, your soul has to be in a state where, if you were to die, you would indeed be admitted entry into Heaven.

However, orthodoxy teaches that nobody is within this state of grace by nature. It requires the repentance of sin and the acceptance of Christ's saving grace, through his crucifixion.

In your alternative universe where suicide is not immoral, one could, in theory, be baptised then immediately commit suicide in order to gain entry into Heaven. Indeed, in early Christendom, it wasn't uncommon for Christians to delay baptism until the deathbed, possibly with the view that one could thus sin freely and be cleansed "at the last moment".

But, this presents a new problem; how do you spread a faith where every adherent immediately kills themselves?

Beyond Heaven and Hell

My understanding, though this may be foggy, is that there have indeed been certain heretical cults who've taken a death-immediately view. Notably, the Circumcellion cult was known to attack Romans in the street, in order to provoke retaliation and "martyrdom". Little more than suicide-by-cop.

More pertinent to your question and its framing though; what if there's no Heaven and Hell? After all, you didn't ask about salvation. You just want to not fall into vice.

In this situation, I'd argue that suicide isn't immoral, because there's no morality to violate. From that though, it's likely that suicide is somewhat foolish if opportunities for personal pleasure or happiness arise.


There's no cut and dry answer to a theoretical question like this, but I would say that at the very minimum, weighing up the different views, suicide is a foolish action.

Whether it has virtue depends on whether you believe in a notion of virtue at all.

Disclaimer: Of course, the Catholic orthodox position, and the one I personally hold and believe to be true is that suicide is a grave sin. As a general aside to anyone reading this; please don't kill yourself. Been in that place before and it isn't worth it. Love y'all.

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    Awesome play on name.
    – J D
    Aug 16 at 13:20
  • Thanks! I'm a huge fan of classic sci-fi. Some of it actually ended up being the reason I converted to Catholicism, especially Philip K Dick. Aug 16 at 14:21
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    I'd just point out - there is a cut-and-dry answer to questions like this in Catholicism: Catholics are obliged to believe that suicide is a grave sin. See Catechism 2280-2283. In fact, since virtue in Catholicism is to serve God not avoid vice in itself, I would suggest that the question may not be logically coherent from a Catholic perspective.
    – g s
    Aug 16 at 15:46
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    This is absolutely fantastic as a comment @gs, you're quite right and of course I do believe the above. I was more playing devil's avocado for purpose of exploring the question more widely, but I shall add a disclaimer, thank you. Aug 16 at 23:01

Even assuming suicide was not a sin (I'm pretty sure its a sin in most religions due to "gift of life" and blah blah), I have a feeling that God would probably be more interested in the spirit of things rather than following things to the letter of the law. Like killing yourself to avoid judgement is like Mormons soaking. Tbh if there is a just God, he would probably test you before sending you to heaven/hell (probably not in a Death Parade anime style but yeah). Anyways, I personally don't belive in God (there's 300+ religions, if there is a God that exists its most probably not organized religion).

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    Aug 16 at 9:27
  • "he would probably test you" - why? Humans test things to make sure they work, and we test people to make sure they know certain things, or have certain traits. But if God is all-knowing, as people claim, then he wouldn't need to make sure of anything, because he already knows everything. And if God is all-loving and all-powerful, as people also claim, that isn't really compatible with us needing to pass a test, however big or small, in order to avoid eternal torment (or annihilation).
    – NotThatGuy
    Aug 16 at 10:12
  • @NotThatGuy Whatever. I think the point Im trying to make is that you cant cheat God by killing yourself. There are no loop holes to cheat God. Same way Mormons soaking or using the poop hole loophole won’t work against God. Aug 16 at 18:43

One way to attack this question is to ask, "What is the meaning of life?" and the answer is given in a documentary of a similar name by a set of philosophers that go collectively by the name of Monty Python...just kidding.

I do have a real answer for you, though, and it is actually related to the meaning of life, but it's more precise to ask "what is the purpose of life?"

In Mormonism, we believe that we lived as spirits before our mortal life began, and that the earth was created specifically to give us experiences, outside of God's direct presence, to give us the opportunity for growth that we could not otherwise have. In fact, it is only because of this opportunity that the infinitely painful Atonement of Christ was necessary (to give us a route back to God after making errors in this life that would not allow us to return to his presence).

Sorry for all the setup, but it's necessary to explain why suicide would, in this belief system, still be potentially a horrific error even if there was no specific "thou shalt not kill thyself, either, Bub" provision. Because suicide is you deciding "ok, I'm done having this experience that was extremely expensive to make possible" when God had plans for you, for the people you would have been able to affect positively in your particular way, for the people that they would then affect positively because of you're positive effect on them, etc.

This is in fact one of the main ways for me to reject the idea of suicide (which suggests itself to me regularly)--as a Mormon, I believe that there is a tremendous amount of growth available to me here that is not available any other way, and if I "left early" it would lead to infinite regret for that impossible-to-get opportunity.

Even if you don't agree with or believe in all the Mormon mechanisms here, it's not hard to imagine God (or the Universe, or whatever) having had a plan for your life, and you irrevocably cutting it off in ignorance.

Other factors to consider--independent of the above, I think, but I'm not 100% sure--you're leaving people that you could be of help to, in a unique way to yourself, that you will definitely not be able to help. It's also true that you will be avoiding hurting all the people you could possibly hurt. But let's ask this question--if you're a person that would off yourself to avoid vice, that possibly tells us that you're more likely to be the kind of person that would help people rather than hurt them, so it's better for you to stay.

If you are evil and know you're likely to be doing a lot more evil, you're probably not willing to kill yourself to avoid more evil.

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    Aug 18 at 3:54
  • Hi @Community what specifically do you need references for? You want mormon scripture references?
    – msouth
    Aug 19 at 0:58

It is virtuous of someone for you to want to exist with them only etc., though sadly there are no such persons, and really the only thing worth dying for is your own death, if that makes sense.

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