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Suicide

The act of taking one's own life. Traditional Christian teaching has consistently regarded suicide as a crime, and in this it has the support of most religious and moral codes. Some societies have tolerated suicide, but even these have attempted to limit it to certain categories, of which the religious suicides of Japan and the courageous suicides of the Greco-Roman world are examples. Greek and Roman philosophers were divided on the subject. It was condemned by Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero, but regarded as a reasonable exercise of freedom by the Epicureans and Stoics, especially Seneca. The latter view found support in the work of Thomas More* and [[John Donne]],* and also in that of Voltaire,* Montesquieu, and Hume.* More recently it has been defended as permissible or even virtuous on the grounds that a man's life is his own and that in the last resort he must be allowed to terminate it at his own discretion, or more narrowly, that suicide is justifiable in cases of extreme senility