Stoic Philosophy: Suicide, Finding the Will to Live

I explore passages in Seneca’s ‘Letters from a Stoic’ relating to the topic of suicide which can encourage people to find the will to live.

We can respond to thoughts of suicide by working to improve in taking action; enduring suffering; having a sense of gratitude; having hope for the future; reflecting on past accomplishments; accepting elements of chance and inevitability in life; being mindful of thoughts and emotions to have insight motivated toward change; preparing for hardships; being strong and brave; considering the impact suicide can have on others; and finding meaning in life.

My Stoic Philosophy series explores the tradition of Stoicism with goals to inform, empower, and help others benefit from practical wisdom of Ancient Greek, Roman, and modern thinkers including Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, and Seneca.

For the Stoics, a main focus is pursuing virtue to attain a well-examined life through practical applications of Philosophy – acting with good character, using reason to form accurate careful judgments about the world, and achieving contentment. Stoic writers focus on many perennial human concerns and urge people to take action applying what they learn to everyday life. Self-improvement — strengthening and improving one’s mindset and life — is central to Stoic thought.

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Justin Vacula

Justin Vacula hosts the Stoic Philosophy Podcast; serves as co-organizer and spokesperson for the Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA) Freethought Society; and hosts monthly Stoic Philosophy discussion groups for the Humanist Association of Greater Philadelphia. He has appeared on and hosted various radio shows and podcasts; participated in formal debates and discussions; was a guest speaker for college-level courses; was featured in local, national, and international news; and has been invited to speak at various national, local, and statewide events. Vacula received bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Psychology, a minor in Professional Writing, and the distinguished W.A. Kilburn Memorial Award for Philosophy from King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He is pursuing a degree in Marywood University’s graduate-level Mental Health Counseling program and formerly worked for the Arc of Luzerne County’s Transition to Community Employment program as a teacher’s assistant and job coach alongside adult learners with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He also plays poker; volunteers as a member of the website and media team for the Greyhawk Reborn Dungeons & Dragons campaign and plays at events in the Eastern United States; and enjoys metal music.