Letter: The seven principles that guide the Samaritans

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Sir: Suicide is more complicated than Virginia Ironside suggests. Like other actions, it should be judged by its probable consequences. In a healthy young person who is temporarily depressed, it is one of the saddest events imaginable. In a mature adult with responsibilities, it may be sad, but it is also reprehensible. In an old person racked with constant pain, it can be a blessed relief, and even, on occasions, noble.

Epictetus reminds us that the door is open:

Do not be more fearful than children; but as they, when the play does not please them, say 'I will play no longer': so do you, in the same case, say 'I will play no longer' and go; but if you stay, do not complain.

If I were to call the Samaritans, I would rather my concerns were heard sympathetically and objectively than be met with the facile admonitions of traditional Christianity and current fashion. For facts about specific helplines, the Citizens' Advice Bureau is surely the place to call.

Yours faithfully,


Newbury, Berkshire

2 November