Re: PHIL: Extropy, Boundaries and Suicide

Geoff Smith (
Tue, 24 Feb 1998 22:32:20 -0800

Darren Reynolds <> wrote:


> Which brings me, finally, to the point.
> Someone you know, rationally, carefully and thoughtfully, decides that it
> is time to end their life. Such an action has a number of easily
> identifiable anti-Extropic effects.
> What is the right thing to do? Do you give the person their liberty, or
> you exercise your "ethics for survival and flourishing" and forcibly
> it?

I have thought about this a lot. I think even a broader question is
appropriate: when is right to intervene when you think someone is mentally
ill? Suicide is a subset of this case. How do you know that this is not
the direction your friend wishes to take? Again, a difficult question. I
have come up with only one answer: each person needs to tell at least one
other person those things that would signal for them "mental illness."
Presumably, this would also include what exactly to do, including the
possibility of temporarily limiting freedoms. Maybe this can be made into
a legal contract? I'm not sure I would be totally averse to signing a
contract that stated as soon as I try to commit suicide, stop me by any
means! It definitely beats the state deciding what defines mental illness
for you.
Of course, there is one glaring problem: misinterpretation of the
contract. You'd have to be pretty specific about your symptoms of mental
illness, and it would probably be prudent to revise the contract every once
and a while. For example, the statement "Through me in a straight-jacket
if I ever move to Siberia" might need to be revised if global warming turns
Siberia into a tropical paradise.