Suicide Doesn’t End the Suffering

Thoughts of death and putting an early end to life are not uncommon and occur to many. You may have had morbid thoughts about dying and ending your own life, or perhaps you know of someone who holds such thoughts.

Depression could be the cause
Clinical depression – a serious medical illness linked to changes in the biochemistry of the brain – is believed to contribute to at least half of all suicides. It affects the way a person feels about himself and how he thinks about things. Characterised by overwhelming feelings of sadness lasting for more than two weeks, clinical depression is very different from a temporary case of “the blues” triggered by an unhappy event.

Depression is often accompanied by a loss of interest in life, a sense of hopelessness and helplessness, and can be triggered in somebody who is going through stressful or traumatic life events, or who is terminally ill. Such distressing feelings generally require the attention of a healthcare professional and medication. 

Death doesn’t end the suffering
People who contemplate committing suicide may think that suicide is the only way out to end all their pain and suffering. But in Buddhism, death is only the beginning of another cycle of pain and suffering for oneself and others, because one’s mindstream does not die.

According to the first teaching of the Four Noble Truths taught by Buddha, life is full of dissatisfactions. All the stages of life – birth, ageing, sickness, death – and all the ways of being, wanting and striving are conditions of dissatisfaction. However, the Buddha also taught that an end to a dissatisfactory life is possible with the Noble Eightfold Path.

The Buddha taught us to realise the impermanence and insubstantiality of both life and death. Everything changes constantly. Nothing stays the same. Rain might come after sunshine, but so does sunshine after rain. Whatever unfolds in life is impermanent, all suffering comes and goes, nothing stays the same. What is more important is to let go of your attachments, to tame your mind and avoid creating more causes of suffering.

By realising that people (their personalities, interests and attitudes) and life situations are constantly changing, it becomes possible to approach each moment with an open mind. One is then able to react and adapt to new situations without clinging to fixed ideas and expectations.

Understanding that each phenomenon comes into existence due to its own causes and conditions, we can live more in the present without clinging onto the past or worrying about the future.

In Buddhism, the mind is seen as central, the cause of both suffering and happiness. The mind is the primary factor that determines the well-being of each person. Through meditation and counselling, the perception of reality for those with persistent negative thinking can be adjusted. This will enable them to better cope with the unexpected changes that life throws at them.

Buddhist perspective on suicide
If one knows how to treasure oneself, one should protect oneself well.
~ The Buddha (Dhammapada)

According to the Buddhist teaching of cause and effect, since one does not realise the truth of all phenomena, or does not practise to be liberated from life and death, suicide is pointless. When one’s karmic store is not exhausted, death by suicide only leads to another cycle of rebirth. This is why Buddhists do not support suicide; and instead, encourage constructive living, using this life to diligently practise good, thus changing the present and the future for the better.
~ Chan Master Sheng Yen

Some people commit suicide. They seem to think that there is suffering simply because there is the human life, and that by cutting off the life there will be nothing… But, according to the Buddhist viewpoint, that’s not the case; your consciousness will continue. Even if you take your own life, this life, you will have to take another body that again will be the basis of suffering. If you really want to get rid of all your suffering, all the difficulties you experience in your life, you have to get rid of the fundamental cause (greed, hatred and delusion) that gives rise to the aggregates that are the basis of all suffering. Killing yourself isn’t going to solve your problems.
~ H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama

There is no worse misdeed than suicide. It is extremely detrimental. When people commit suicide, later in the Bardo state, they will experience the same suicide again and again, every day, for a very long period of time, with no escape. They will have to undergo this pain repeatedly. People commit suicide because they want to end their suffering but actually they cannot escape from it by committing suicide. Their suffering will only get worse and be even more unbearable. Changing the body will not change their suffering because suffering comes from the mind and the mind cannot die. The cause of a person’s suffering is not in his body, it comes from his mind. So if you ever want to be free from suffering you must tame your mind. Regardless how difficult an external situation is, if you do not grasp at it, you will not suffer.
~ H.E. Garchen Rinpoche

Taking one’s own life under any circumstances is morally and spiritually wrong. Taking one’s own life owing to frustration or disappointment only causes greater suffering. Suicide is a cowardly way to end one’s problems in life. A person cannot commit suicide if his mind is pure and tranquil. If one leaves this world with a confused and frustrated mind, it is most unlikely that he would be born again in a better condition. Suicide is an unwholesome or unskilful act since it is encouraged by a mind filled with greed, hatred and delusion. Those who commit suicide have not learnt how to face their problems, how to face the facts of life, and how to use their mind in a proper manner. Such people have not been able to understand the nature of life and worldly conditions.
~ Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda

This human body and life is difficult to attain but is now attained. The Buddha’s teachings are difficult to encounter but are now encountered. If we do not use this precious body to help ourselves, till when shall we wait to save ourselves?
~ Buddhist Saying