Near-suicide phenomenon: A collectivistic dilemma between life and morality

Minh-Hoang Nguyen (1), Ruining Jin (2)

(1) Centre for Interdisciplinary Social Research, Phenikaa University, Yen Nghia Ward, Ha Dong District, Hanoi 100803, Vietnam.
(2) Civil, Commercial and Economic Law School, China University of Political Science and Law, Beijing 100088, China.

March 31, 2023

In the classical novel Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky artistically and deliberately described the mental anguish and moral dilemmas of Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, a young intellectual and sympathetic ex-law student living in Saint Petersburg’s slum [1]. The inner conflicts of Raskolnikov arose in the interest of humanity when he saw miserable lives around him, leading to a utilitarian-altruistic justification for his crime [2]: “Why not kill a wretched, rapacious, and “useless” old moneylenders and employ the funds to alleviate the human misery?” With that thought in mind, Raskolnikov determined to commit a murder but soon became overwhelmed by his sense of guilt. It has been more than a century since the novel was first published. However, many people still suffer from the mental anguish and moral dilemmas faced by Raskolnikov.

As humans, illness is an inevitable reality that everyone tries to avoid, especially fatal ones like cancer, heart disease, respiratory infections, etc. Some of them are curable, and some are not. However, for people experiencing poverty, money is a primary reason for making most serious diseases “incurable.” The harsh truth is that the more serious an illness is, the more costly it is to be treated. Both patients with serious illness and their families need to make significant sacrifices in order to afford the high cost of medical care, which can push them into poverty. If the medical care is no longer affordable, the hospitals will likely “return” the patients home so they can spend the last moments of their lives close to their loved ones. Non-local, poor, and uninsured patients have approximately 70% probability of being impoverished for healthcare treatment [3].