Suicide has long posed problems for philosophy. Philosophers, such Albert Camus, have situated in the center of the debate about metaphysics and the meaning of life. Hegel understood death to be the raison d'etre of philosophical project. And scores of other since them have treated suicide as central to the West's understanding of itself. In "Contemplating Suicide," Gavin Fairbairn takes a fresh and philosophical look at suicide. He examines the nomenclature of suicide, and how the language of suicide affects our understanding and denigration of "suicidal bodies."
Fairbairn offers cogent reasons for abandoning the mindless use of terms such as "attempted suicide" and "parasuicide," and introduces a number of terms including "cosmic roulette," which he uses to describe a family of human acts in which people gamble with their lives.
By elaborating a richer model of suicidal self harm than most philosophers and most practitioners of caring professions currently inhabit, Fairbairn has contributed to the development of understanding in this area. Among other things a richer model and vocabulary may reduce the likelihood that those who come into contact with suicidal self harm, will believe that familiarity with the physical facts of the matter - the actions of the suicider and the presence or absence of a corpse - is always sufficient to justify a definite conclusion about the nature of the self harming act.