Confronting the Suicide Taboo

Non-Fiction - Social Issues
288 Pages
Reviewed on 08/11/2023
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Author Biography

In Self-Inflicted, Dr. Karl T. Muth advances the argument that suicide should be a choice widely-available, that the optimal number of suicides per year is not zero but a number much higher, and that suicide is in many ways preferable and superior to so-called and oft-idealized natural death. He further argues physician-assisted suicide is not a tenable compromise between acceptance and prohibition and that policies limiting access to death inadvertently transform allowed suicide into a luxury good unavailable to the masses.

Muth was part of the unlikely tribe of 2010s technology executives, venture capitalists, lowercase-L libertarians, crypto-nouveau-riche, and “singularity” enthusiasts very excited about radical lifespan extension or “technologically-enhanced” longevity. Today, however, Muth is instead focused on quality over quantity; specifically, the best life possible within a known lifespan and ending on a planned date with little pain and few regrets. These are the arguments that changed his mind.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite

Suicide is one of the most extreme steps people can take. What drives a person to the point of thinking about ending their life? In Self-Inflicted: Confronting the Suicide Taboo, Karl T. Muth tackles this controversial topic from a fresh perspective and provides readers with an unconventional point of view on suicide. What if suicide wasn't such a taboo topic and having the freedom to end one's life was every human being's fundamental right? According to Muth, a predetermined time of death would help us make better life choices. In the early 2010s, Muth was an investor in tech start-ups and the crypto space, exploring extending the human lifespan through radical technological and medical advancements. In this book, he offers insights into the relationship between depression and suicide, mental illnesses, thought experiments and hypotheticals, and much more.

This book isn't for everyone. But if you like to delve into what are typically considered taboo topics purely from an academic or logistical point of view, Self-Inflicted will be right up your alley. Among other aspects of suicide, Karl T. Muth also examines the economic impact on society if suicide became permissible in the mainstream. How will conservatorships play out in such a scenario? These are the types of questions asked and the answers are explored within the pages of this book. Muth reiterates the need for people to have better access to effective methods and to ensure people don't feel stigmatized for seeking death on their own terms. I liked how the author uses well-reasoned and researched arguments to make his points. I recommend this book to readers who enjoy philosophical discourse on controversial topics.