2
The Catholic View

St. Thomas Aquinas

We proceed thus to the Fifth Article:

Objection 1.It would seem lawful for a man to kill himself. For murder is a sin insofar as it is contrary to justice. But no man can do an injustice to himself, as is proved in Ethic. v. 11. 1 Therefore no man sins by killing himself.

Obj. 2. Further, It is lawful, for one who exercises public authority, to kill evil‐ doers. Now he who exercises public authority is sometimes an evildoer. Therefore he may lawfully kill himself.

Obj. 3. Further, It is lawful for a man to suffer spontaneously a lesser danger that he may avoid a greater Thus it is lawful for a man to cut off a decayed limb even from himself, that he may save his whole body. Now sometimes a man, by killing himself, avoids a greater evil, for an example an unhappy life, or the shame of sin. Therefore a man may kill himself.

Obj. 4. Further, Samson killed himself, as related in Judges xvi, and yet he is numbered among the saints (Heb. xi). Therefore it is lawful for a man to kill himself.

Obj. 5. Further, It is related (2 Mach. xiv. 42) that a certain Razias killed himself, choosing to die nobly rather than to fall into the hands of the wicked, and to suffer abuses unbecoming his noble birth. Now nothing that is done nobly and bravely is unlawful. Therefore suicide is not unlawful.

On the contrary, Augustine says (De Civ. Dei i 20): Hence it follows that the words "Thou shalt not kill" refer to the killing of a man, not another man; therefore, not even thyself. For he who kills himself kills nothing else than a man.

I answer that, It is altogether unlawful to kill oneself, for three reasons. First,

____________________
From volume 2 of Thomas Aquinas, "Whether It Is Lawful to Kill Oneself?" Summa Theologica ( New York: Benziger Brothers, Inc.; London: Burns & Oaks, Ltd., 1925), Part 2, Question 64,A5. Reprinted by permission of the publishers.

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