Any Reason Not To Save A Potential Suicide?

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  • #596070

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    We all know that saving someone’s life is perhaps the greatest mitzvah that one can do. It’s certainly the greatest mitzvah that can be done in the realm of bein adam l’chaveiro.

    We also know that there is a class of wicked people that are considered “ain ma’alin.” The literal translation of that is “we do not bring them up.” The meaning of this phrase is that if he fell into a ditch or well or river and needs rescuing, we do not rescue him (even if in many cases we may not initially put him in that circumstance to begin with). Instead, we leave him to his fate.

    In addition, we also know that there are punishments that can be meted out for various sins. For some, there is a punishment meted out by an earthly court, for others, the punishment is left to Heaven. Perhaps the greatest punishment that can be meted out by the Heavenly Court is the loss of one’s Olam HaBah — share in the World To Come.

    One of the crimes for which one is punished with the loss on one’s share in Olam HaBah is suicide. That being the case, we must be able to say that a suicide is a bona fide rasha* — surely Heaven would only inflict its ultimate punishment against the worst of the worst.

    That being said, why should one save an attempted suicide*? If people who aren’t even subject to the ultimate Heavenly punishment are considered ain ma’alin (i.e. undesirable to rescue), then why should we rescue someone who is certainly worse than that (based on the degree of punishment)?

    The Wolf

    * Assuming a completely mentally competent person, of course. I understand that today we generally make the assumption that most (if not all) suicides are *not* mentally competent.

    #758350

    what do you mean by “attempted suicide”

    most “suicide attempts” are actually an effort to obtain help or let known to the world ones despondency and are not actually attempts to commit suicide.

    if so that person is not necessarily an ain ma’alin

    #758351

    and even if you are sure that he intends to complete the act

    then

    either way

    if it is in the moment before he has completed the act then he has not yet done anything and can still do Tsuvah and change his mind.

    if he has already completed the act then your question is moot.

    #758352

    gregaaron
    Member

    Wolf –

    No matter what a person does, we always have an obligation to save a neshama. Look in the gemara in Makkos (end of first perek) for examples of what lengths we would go to to try to save people who are accused of even the most horrible aveiros.

    And especially considering that, as you said, we Halachically assume nowadays that anyone who r”l would do such a thing was not mentally competent, there is definitely an obligation to do everything possible to keep them alive.

    #758353

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    most “suicide attempts” are actually an effort to obtain help or let known to the world ones despondency and are not actually attempts to commit suicide.

    You’re absolutely right. However, I would classify those people as not totally mentally competent, and subject to the exemption in my footnote.

    And I grant you that there’s probably no way to know the difference on a practical level. The whole discussion is hypothetical.

    can still do Tsuvah

    True. But the same could be said for anyone who is in the category of “ain ma’alin.”

    The Wolf

    #758354

    To emphasize what the mod said, a person is not chayiv for an aveira he unsuccesfully attempted.

    #758355

    newhere
    Participant

    I know this does not directly answer your question but it is related, and in my opinion, quite interesting. The minchas chinuch on the mitzvah of lo saamod al dam rayecha says that there is no mitzvah of lo saamod on someone committing suicide. His logic is from the gemara in sanhedrin (I forget where) that asks why do we need a passuk of lo saamod, why we don’t learn out the mitzvah of lo saamod from hashavas aveidah.( The gemara’s answer is not relevant.) In hashavas aveidah the halacha is that if someone throws away his aveidah, there is no obligation to return it. Thus, the minchas chinuch says, so too by lo saamod there is no mitzvah to save the person if he is throwing away his body. I have spoken to a few raabonim about this and no one was willing to pasken like this because it is quite radical and the lomdus is a bit sketchy (one has ownership over a basketball so he could throw it away, as opposed to his body), but I thought it was interesting enough to share with you once you’re on the topic.

    #758356

    You’re absolutely right. However, I would classify those people as not totally mentally competent, and subject to the exemption in my footnote.

    so all those that fake suicide attempts you would classify as not totally mentally competent.

    so which ones would you classify as totally mentally competent, the ones who actually intend to die?

    #758357

    True. But the same could be said for anyone who is in the category of “ain ma’alin.”

    you skipped a crucial part of my statement, i said they had not yet done the action, which is NOT the case of an ain ma’alin

    #758358

    real-brisker
    Member

    Wolf – The gemorah in kidduushin says that we dont consider thoughts to be oiver on an avireh – as if it was done, (except for avoidah zorah). Thus being the case I dont see why he is a rosha.

    #758359

    yswo
    Member

    I do not mean to sound rude but I can’t believe someone even asked this question.

    #758360

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    so which ones would you classify as totally mentally competent, the ones who actually intend to die?

    I acknowledged above that, on a practical level, we have no way to distinguish between the two and that, as such, on a practical level, we should try to save all potential suicides. My discussion is hypothetical based on someone who is a true potential “me’abed atzmo l’da’as.”

    The Wolf

    #758361

    aries2756
    Participant

    If a person was a true rasha why would they attempt or truly want to commit suicide? Which rasha has a conscience? Which Rasha hates their life to a point that they would want to end it? A rasha loves doing what they do. They love causing misery to others, that is their enjoyment and that is their whole purpose in life to hurt others and to make others miserable. So why would a rasha contemplate suicide and another person have to ponder whether or not to save them?

    On the other hand, if a rasha were in a situation where their life were at risk, then you can ask the question is one obligated to save the rasha? I am no chocham but I would imagine that one would be as obligated as one would be to any other person.

    #758362

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    you skipped a crucial part of my statement, i said they had not yet done the action, which is NOT the case of an ain ma’alin

    Fair enough. Assume a case where the person actually took the fatal action but was saved through miraculous means or advanced medical intervention.

    The Wolf

    #758363

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    Wolf – The gemorah in kidduushin says that we dont consider thoughts to be oiver on an avireh

    So, if someone keeps all the (other) mitzvos but, in his heart and thoughts, believes that there is no God, then he’s not committing any sin?!

    The Wolf

    #758364

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    Do we say ??? ????? in any situation other than when the guilty person is a threat to others? If not, there’s a clear distinction.

    #758365

    newhere
    Participant

    yswo- What’s wrong with asking the question? He didn’t say that he wouldn’t save the guy’s life, he was curious what the halachic rationale is. Lo habayshan lamed.

    #758366

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    I do not mean to sound rude but I can’t believe someone even asked this question.

    That’s okay. It didn’t sound rude, but you can be rude to me. I don’t mind.

    The Wolf

    #758367

    HaLeiVi
    Participant

    Reb 80,

    He is asking a theoretical question. Granted that we know that he is doing it maliciously, would there be a Mitzva to save him? Your second point is, of course, true. There is a Mitzva not only to save his life, since he’s is not yet a Rasha, but to save him from commiting an act that will make him a Rasha. This is actually worse than the regular Lo Saamod because you are supposed to stop him from doing an Aveira.

    #758368

    real-brisker
    Member

    Wolf – Why did you read only the first half? I wrote except for avodah zorah.

    #758369

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    No matter what a person does, we always have an obligation to save a neshama.

    On a practical level, yes.

    Look in the gemara in Makkos (end of first perek) for examples of what lengths we would go to to try to save people who are accused of even the most horrible aveiros.

    Then how do you explain the concept of “ain ma’alin?”

    The Wolf

    #758370

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    If a person was a true rasha why would they attempt or truly want to commit suicide? Which rasha has a conscience?

    Not everyone who commits suicide does so because they are a rasha. Hitler commited suicide and I think we can generally agree that he was about as wicked as they come.

    Yes, he did it to avoid capture at the hands of the Russians, but that doesn’t change the fact that wicked people *do* sometimes commit suicide.

    The Wolf

    #758371

    HaLeiVi
    Participant

    Greg,

    Wolfish prefaced his question with relevant sources.

    Wolf,

    It might not be a correct measuring stick. Not necessarily is the Ein Maalin due to the person’s spiritual state. It might be more a matter of the benefit of the Klal.

    #758372

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    Before we go any further, I just want to make this point in bold. I said it above, but I want to make it clear lest my question be misunderstood:

    This entire discussion is not to be used on a practical level. If you, God forbid, know of someone attempting or contemplating suicide, do anything and everything you can to save him or her.

    In addition:

    I want it understood that I am not considering the fact that people who commit suicide today are wicked. It is well understood by medical and religious professionals that people who commit suicide today are probably not mentally competent as they are overwhelmed by their pain and suffering beyond their ability to reason. They are not to be considered wicked. They and their families are to be shown every compassion.

    That being said, my discussion is based on a hypothetical that may never even exist in reality (like a Ben Sorer U’Moreh according to many opinions). It’s based on a person who wants to kill him/herself while being perfectly sane and capable of rational decision making.

    The Wolf

    (My apologies. I don’t normally “shout” like that, but I wanted those points to be well understood.)

    #758373

    HaLeiVi
    Participant

    Aries,

    Chazal say, Resha’im Melei’im Charatta.

    Wolf,

    I’m sure you are aware that Kefira is a type of Aveira that is possible through thought, as the Gemara in Kedushin says, Shema Hirher Ba’avoda Zara. That is not the case with physical transgressions.

    #758374

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    Wolf – Why did you read only the first half? I wrote except for avodah zorah.

    My apologies. I completely missed that you did, in fact, make that exemption.

    How about Lo Sisna?

    The Wolf

    #758375

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    Then how do you explain the concept of “ain ma’alin?”

    To protect others from a dangerous person.

    #758376

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    To protect others from a dangerous person.

    Might a purposeful suicide not be described as dangerous? A person who has no compunctions about killing himself is likely to be unconcerned about killing others as well.

    The Wolf

    #758377

    gregaaron
    Member

    Wolf –

    I think killing oneself and killing someone else are two completely different deviant thought processes (b”h I’ve never really thought about doing either one); I don’t think a suicidal person is necessarily a danger to others. (Obviously, there are some cases where you’d be right, but I don’t think that that’s the case across the board.)

    #758378

    TheGoq
    Participant

    i would never commit suicide i just wouldnt be able to live with myself if i did

    #758379

    real-brisker
    Member

    Wolf – No need to apologize.

    #758380

    yacr85
    Participant

    There is a Jewish tradition (probably from the Gemoro) that we do not bury suicides inside the cemetery, rather just outside.

    However Reb Moshe does pasken that all suicides today are considered ‘Shotim’ (not mentally retarded but mentally incapable) therefore are buried within the cemetery.

    #758381

    hanib
    Participant

    also, from my understanding, there are certain suicides which take time before the person dies – in those cases, the assumption is that the person regretted their deed and did full teshuvah.

    #758382

    walton157
    Member

    Just a side note which is very, very important. If anyone ever says that s/he want to commit suicide or wants to end it all, C’V, the first, first thing that should be asked is: “what is your plan”. If they have one (cut themselves, jump from a high spot, etc.) take them to the nearest hospital ASAP. If they DON’T have a plan in mind take them to a family member or a COMPETENT Rav or someone in the community who knows how to deal with this kind of situation. Seek help immediately. Most people who are suicidal need help and are looking for it. They just don’t know how or whom to ask.

    #758383

    walton157
    Member

    @wolf: How do you bold on the CR?

    #758384

    wanderingchana
    Participant

    “A rasha loves doing what they do. They love causing misery to others, that is their enjoyment and that is their whole purpose in life to hurt others and to make others miserable. So why would a rasha contemplate suicide and another person have to ponder whether or not to save them?”

    A rasha who thinks that ending his life would cause misery to those left behind? Who hates someone enough to want to cause them the agony of the decision of whether to try to save them or not? (Suicide bombers (yemach shemo) come to mind.)

    #758385

    ItcheSrulik
    Member

    Given that the only ‘ain ma’alin’ I can think of off hand is a Meisis, it seems that the ruling is for everyone else’s benefit not his punishment.

    On a completely unrelated line, the rationale could simply be that suicide is a chiyuv kares (RaMBaM Hilchos Aveilus. In general RaMBaM understands losing olam haba as kares see Hilchos Teshuva Ch. 2-3) and we are preventing him from doing the avera just like we would stop someone from eating chametz on Pesach.

    #758386

    Avram in MD
    Participant

    WolfishMusings,

    It seems that your question has been answered in pieces throughout the posts above.

    Statement 1: We are obligated to try and stop a Jew from sinning.

    Statement 2: An ain ma’alin who falls into a river is not committing a sin, therefore to not bring him up causes no conflict with statement 1.

    Statement 3: Suicide is a grave sin.

    Statement 4: See statement 1.

    Do you disagree with any of this?

    #758387

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    Do you disagree with any of this?

    I guess not.

    The Wolf

    #758388

    Avram in MD
    Participant

    WolfishMusings,

    I intended my previous post to be worded in a very simple style. Upon rereading it, I’m concerned that it could come across as “sharp.” It wasn’t my intention!

    #758389

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    Upon rereading it, I’m concerned that it could come across as “sharp.” It wasn’t my intention!

    I did not take it that way. 🙂

    The Wolf

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