Excerpt from the upcoming book:
ANIMAL SUICIDE (ANIMAL WISDOM?)
When our pets and wild animals
choose to end their own lives –
Suicide is the accepted term for the deliberate ending of one’s own
life. Listed along with other ‘cides’ such as homicide, matricide, patricide, infanticide, the ending of
one’s own life is often mistakenly viewed as a violation of man-made law. It is NOT against the law to end one’s
own life on one’s own. (The circumstances, means, and choice of self-termination may, however, involve other illegalities,
such as enlisting the help of another person, shooting oneself, choosing a public locale or endangering others in the process
to name but a few. ) A small number of organized religions also list suicide as an offense (sin, transgression, abomination)
to their deities and/or their organization. The term and its accepted meaning have thus been used to control a society
with an implied connection to social law an occasional inclusion in religious doctrine.
Animals abide by the Laws
of Nature, which include their right and ability to choose to end their physical existence, to end their own lives. Is that
act truly ‘conscious choice?’ Is that act genetically ‘programmed?’ Is ‘animal suicide’
more prevalent among certain species? What can we learn about our own ‘nature’ by respectfully observing and recording
the final acts of animals ending their own lives? Or, for many, will the concept of animals ‘committing suicide’
create more unease about our own mortality and mores, resulting in an even greater emotional distancing from our nonhuman
relatives? Will we dismiss acts of seeming self-annihilation among animals (other than ourselves) as disturbing yet merely
demonstrative of our own superiority over them? With the animal and plant extinction rate obscenely outpacing our own confirmed
comprehension of life and death, how much longer can we afford to ignore the myriad ways in which animals communicate their
realities to us?
When animals end their own lives, they are not ‘breaking a law,” they are shattering
our self-serving myths.
The research, the personal and professional accounts herein attest to animals’ right
and choice to die;
from beloved pets to the wild and free, these true life-and-death accounts leave little intelligent
doubt that animals know when it is their time to die – and how to deliberately end their own lives if the circumstance
requires or inspires.
After reading these reports from a range of professionals, even the most rigid of human minds
will wrestle with previously held beliefs:
- The Animal Lover and Pet Owner will rethink her stance on euthanasia
– is it to end the animal’s misery, or our own distress – our cultural anxiety over physical mortality.
- The Veterinarian and Animal Control/Shelter Official will have reason to rethink their Euthanasia policies.
- The Fish and Game and other Government Employees will be challenged to question the origin of their assumptions,
and their policies and laws based thereon.
- The Wildlife Rehabilitators will have reason to view their
patients and their patients’ needs differently.
- The Scientist and Lab Technician must question,
and be questioned about, their testing methods and the validity of tests where animals die – for they may be dying not
due to the test chemicals or procedures, but because they want out. How does such a variable factor into lab tests?
- The Hunter will have at least one question to ask herself – “Was that kill my good marksmanship –
or had that animal already decided to die that day?”
The Teacher, the Theologian, the Writer, the Pet Psychic,
the Parent, the Animal Breeder, the Meat-Eater, the Farmer, the Driver whose car kills an opossum….what human being
is not affected by the beliefs they hold about their relationship to animals? And what animal is not also affected by the
beliefs human beings hold about them?
Animal Suicide is about to become the proverbial pebble – whether it
makes gentle ripples of enlightened change or makes a sore spot in the hard shoe of species-centrism the stone has been cast
– and the interpretation is up to you.Animal Suicide
is not the final word on the
subject. It serves only as the elephant in the room, or the elephant on its way to its ancestral dying grounds – undeniably
there, so let’s talk about it!