Suicide: In Search of a Definition
After a presentation of over ten different cases of suicide the author gives a brief review of the definitions of suicide found in the literature. Then he suggests a definition of his own: ‘A wo/man commits a suicide if s/he consciously initiates a sequence of events leading to her/his death.’ This definition does not entail any value statement about the act of suicide. We may agree that some acts of terminating one’s life deliberately command admiration as feats of heroism, while others are deplorable as acts of cowardice. However, the principle of double effect does not permit to distinguish incontrovertibly a case of a suicidal death from a heroic death, says the author.