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Can a person commit suicide if they are suffering a lot or too weak to live?

Is it moral?

What does Hinduism say?

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According to sri Parashara Smrithi 4.1 and 4.2 suicide by hanging (and could be interpreted as generally the case in suicide) is a sin:

Whether from excessive pride, excessive wrath, or from affection, or from fear, should a man or a woman hang one's self, — then this is the destiny that awaits him or her.

The fate is described in 4.2:

He or she sinks into a region utterly dark, and filled to the brink with pus and blood; that torment is suffered for sixty thousand years.

Even attempting suicide is a sin according to Parashara Smrithi 12.5:

What should be the expiation of the offender (Pratyavasita) who tries to kill himself by falling into water, or fire, or by falling from a precipice, or by undertaking a journey for a suicidal purpose?

The purification ritual is explained in the next verse 12.6:

The three (inferior) castes are rendered pure by a double Prajapatya, by a pilgrimage to holy places, and by a gift of ten cows accompanied by a bull.

For a brahmin things are a little different in 12.7-8:

I shall now relate the expiation for a Brahman. He must go to a forest, and, at a spot where four roads meet, just shave his head, including the coronal lock, and then perform a double prajapatya. He is to give a fee of two cows. This is the purification prescribed by Parasol. He is thereby freed from that sin, and is restored to his Brahman caste.

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Can a person commit suicide if they are suffering or too weak to live?

Yes. But only if they can't practice dharma, and their intention is to practice dharma in another life.

Medhatithi in his Manusmriti commentary says,

‘Those who have abandoned themselves;’—i.e ., those who, even before their life’s span has been run out, give up their bodies (by committing suicide). [It is only such suicide that is reprehensible]. It is considered quite desirable in the case of old men suffering from incurable diseases given up by the physicians; as has been thus declared:—‘If an old man,—incapable of purification and memory, who has passed beyond the reach of the physician’s art,—kills himself by falling down from a precipice, or entering into fire, or by fasting, or by drowning in water,—in his case there is impurity for three days; his bones being collected on the second day, on the third day the water offering-should be made, and on the fourth day the Śrāddha should be performed’. Suicide is regarded as desirable also in the case of persons suffering from leprosy and such other diseases; as has been said in connection with men who, though still in the Householder’s state, have lost all energy,—‘Bent upon entering the Great Path, they do not wish to live on uselessly.’ That man is called ‘devoid of energy’ who is incapable of doing purificatory acts, as also saying the Twilight Prayers &c. Then again, in texts deprecating suicide, the words used are—‘if one whose body has not been emaciated, or who has not lost all energy, should kill himself &c. &c.’; which implies that it is permitted for those who are not such as here described.

These verses say you can euthanize yourself, but I don't know if there are verses that allow other people to euthanize you if you can't do it yourself.

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  • i think Sati would fall under euthanasia since they prefer to live with their husbands in the after-life than this one.
    – mar
    Sep 13 '19 at 23:55
  • @ram Yes, sati has direct scriptural authorization; rewards are elaborately described for performing sati. You can also give up your life in other circumstances like saving a reputable person's life, women, children, etc.
    – Ikshvaku
    Sep 14 '19 at 1:23

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