Animals self-harm and commit suicide too

Discussion in 'Opinions, Beliefs, & Points of View' started by Paul., Apr 8, 2012.

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  1. Paul.

    Paul. Member

    When I was a kid I had a pair of gerbils and when one died the other one refused to eat and bit large chunks out of his own body. He died shortly after. Also my friend had two parrots and likewise when one died the other one plucked out half of its feathers and refused to eat and died soon after.

    We're not the only species who do this to ourselves.
  2. truthhurts

    truthhurts Well-Known Member

    i havnt thought about this much, but i've also noticed that. i also had 2 parrots when i was smaller, and at like 3 or 4 years old the female suddenly died and the male went after soon. i dont rly remember exact details tho, cuz tht was like 10 years ago now, but im guessing it was also cuz he refused to eat.
  3. Issaccs

    Issaccs Well-Known Member

    Some animals eat their own faeces or kill their own children to...
  4. Lovecraft

    Lovecraft Well-Known Member

    For many animals eating their faeces makes sense - rabbits for example have poor digestion systems that catch only a pittance of the nutrients in food they eat. By eating the waste that comes out the other end they get a chance to absorb more of the good stuff from the food.

    Similarly often killing their own children, or neglecting them until they die, is more a measured act than just malice. In a large litter of dogs the mother will often entirely ignore the smallest, weakest one. The idea is that the mother ignores the weak ones so that she can devote full resources to the other, more likely to survive children.

    That said there are animals that seem to engage in behavior that is self-harm or suicide, but it's debatable if what they're doing really constitutes self-harm or suicide from a human perspective. For a suicide to be a suicide the committer in question has to understand that what they're doing will kill them, and that requires them to understand the concept of death. Which creatures, if any, truly understand that they will die or can die is unknown. It may very well be that certain self-harm or suicidal tendencies in creatures aren't a conscious decision on the part of the creature so much as an instinctual reaction to circumstance.

    Humans have sort of instinctual suicides of that kind too - humans are known to become suicidally protective of their young in many cases. Usually we don't call that a suicide though, we might call it a 'sacrifice' or some such because the person sacrificing their self didn't do it wanting to die, but did it as a service to someone else.

    In the animal kingdom there are cases where a sacrifice of such form would also serve to protect others. Indeed, even within your own body, there are cells that kill themselves intentionally for the good of the whole organism. Cell apoptosis is a process by which your body can signal to cells to destroy themselves, and they do. It happens literally billions of times a day in any given adult. Amongst other things it curbs overpopulation of cells.

    Down to the cellular level life does have a sort of suicide set-up as a means to prolonging life, but whether anything other than humans ever commit suicide out of a genuine desire to die, rather than doing it because of a chemical messenger or an instinct to protect other, is not really known.

    One could potentially argue that a human consciously wanting to die is a sort of human veneer that is put on top of an instinctual desire to kill yourself to protect others somehow - an emotional justification made for an instinctual feeling toward suicide. (Of course many human suicides don't protect anybody, but much like anything in the body, there can be malfunctions. In the same way a person with Lupus has a body that incorrectly identifies its own cells as invaders, perhaps people with strong suicidal tendencies have a body that incorrectly identifies itself as needing to die for the good of the group - or at least some suicidal people.)
  5. pppqp

    pppqp Well-Known Member

    one of my favorite quotes:

    There is no fundamental difference between man and the higher animals in their mental faculties.… The lower animals, like man, manifestly feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery.
    ― Charles Darwin

    and in case you might be interested:
  6. jxdama

    jxdama Staff Member Safety & Support

    i dont think animals have self awareness or the ability to know what death is. thus, they cant kill themselves. its certainly possible when faced with a traumatic experience they will change behavior but i doubt they understand they are killing themselves.
  7. TheLoneWolf

    TheLoneWolf Well-Known Member

    My dad had two dogs that were sisters. One of them was hit and killed by a car. The other one became depressed after that. She just wasn't the same dog anymore. Shortly after, she developed cancer that eventually took her life. I know there is no one specific cause for cancer, but I do believe that depression increases the likelihood of developing health problems and that her depression over her sister's death was a direct contributor to her developing cancer. Animals DO have feelings, they are capable of feeling love and happiness as well as anger, sadness, and loneliness.
  8. justMe7

    justMe7 Well-Known Member

    geeze... so what is this? Animals percieve and feel.. people just completely associate societies definitions and social "positioning" of animals to make themselves feel "ok" with the reality of what we do and how we exist with them. Honestly.. dodgy topic.. but yes... Animals feel. They aren't the problem.. in my opinon.
    We try.. and so do alot of people who get together. People disassociate and define them from awkward comparisons and situational conclusions. ..

    :S .. animals get an extreme positive vibe when you stroke them and interact with them, and respond in a very positive light. They are alive and capable of much more than we give them credit. And without a doubt there is so much more to them than we can see. We just see what we share.. sad that we still arent completely on par with life.. but realistic.
  9. TheLoneWolf

    TheLoneWolf Well-Known Member

    Many people believe that animals are "lower species" and that human beings are the only ones with "souls" and genuine thoughts and emotions. They want to believe that we are somehow better than the rest of the species in the animal kingdom. In fact, a lot of people refuse to acknowledge the fact that human beings even are part of the animal kingdom. They won't allow themselves to come to grips with the fact that humans are just animals with technology, opposable thumbs and a spoken language.
  10. justMe7

    justMe7 Well-Known Member

    Yeah... that could be based down to fear of the unknown and needing to define your environment so you have "control" over your own "life" imo. Just fear coupled with all manner of bullshit and spawning all mannerism of ...
    However it goes, hopefully someday we'll whittle away alot of these older foundations that are readily forced and accepted upon our newborns, and re-find the harmony with life, while still appricating our own like we do today. Idk.. Pipe dream maybe, or inevitability.. Getting people to all get on an equal accepted page is even more dangerous than fractured isolated degrees of dillusional definitions. I think... idk. We don't even treat our own species right.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 16, 2012
  11. TheLoneWolf

    TheLoneWolf Well-Known Member

    Based on human history, I'm going to go with "pipe dream".
  12. jxdama

    jxdama Staff Member Safety & Support

    i have a cat i love but dogs and cats arent self aware. they dont know they are alive, they dont know they are a dog or cat and they dont know they are going to die. an animal cant kill itself because it doesnt know its kiling itself.
  13. lightbeam

    lightbeam Antiquities Friend

    I have to quite agree. My cat has more personality than me. He loves to look out the window and chatter at nearby birds, loves to get his treats at night, and likes being around his family. He's a good boy, loves his papa, and his grandparents. They know what it is like to be hurt, to grieve, to have fun. Anyone who says otherwise may have never had a pet.
  14. TheLoneWolf

    TheLoneWolf Well-Known Member

    They know that they're alive. A cat is aware that it is not the same species as a dog or a human. Animals usually know when they are going to die before they actually do. In fact, they sometimes know when a human is going to die before the human even knows. Animals are far more aware of these things than we give them credit for. Which you'd know, if they were able to verbally communicate it to you. That and opposable thumbs are the only true advantages we hold over the rest of the animal kingdom.
  15. BrinkOfExistence

    BrinkOfExistence Well-Known Member

    Simple test to know if your pet is self aware is to put them infront of a mirror, if they know what they are looking at is themselves then they could be considered self aware.

    What we are Literally just found this video.
  16. TheLoneWolf

    TheLoneWolf Well-Known Member

    Yep, that video about sums it up.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to take a banana break from arguing with my fellow monkeys about whether or not we're better than the other monkeys.
  17. pickwithaustin

    pickwithaustin Staff Alumni

    But with that said, animals do have feelings. It always bothers me when people state that they do not because it only shows a larger lack of human intelligence to not realize the obvious. When my son passed away, for instance, his companion pet (a cat) became very depressed. She stopped eating, she stopped grooming herself (became very oily), and she sat by his closed bedroom door day and night crying. It took months of special attention to her to get her back to a more normal attitude. She was grieving, just as does a human when faced with that kind of loss. I've been a vegetarian for over 35 years for this same and very reason.

    When caught in a trap and with no hope of escape, and animal will usually fight to the last breath to get out. They don't give up. There is a lesson to learn from them as they have, in their own ways, feelings and intelligence we could all learn from.
  18. Gimiq

    Gimiq Well-Known Member

    My sisyer and I each had cats they were sisters. One got feline leukimia and one day she had a look in her I that siad she had like accepted it or something. We stared at her for a minute. Her sister walked in stared for a minute crouched slightly seemed to squint walked and taped her in the face when she turned slightly her steped closer hissed smacked and starred minute again. The other just stared back. My cat then literally stormed over to the door and waited for us to let her out. My sisters cat laid back down. The next morning she was dead. My cat walked over sniffed then quietly left. It was wierd becuase it made me think my cat was pissed at my sisters for giving up and dieing. It was weird bit spectacular.
  19. TheLoneWolf

    TheLoneWolf Well-Known Member

    If caught in a trap, I too would fight to the last breath to get out. It's one thing to die on my terms or the terms of fate, it's quite another to allow someone or something else to kill me. The question is then, is depression a trap that we can fight and break free from? Or is it fate? Maybe life itself is the trap.
  20. bhawk

    bhawk Well-Known Member

    Actually the majority of animals dont try and fight their way out of a trap, or when caught by a predator, normally they measure up their chances and on seeing there is no escape the body will flood them with endorphins and await death......
    As said this is in the majority, depending on both the individual animal and the species. Less predated species and more intelligent species will often fight more ferverently even when the odds of their survival is minimal. I have seen corvids fighting a pereXsaker off them minutes after i thought their life was extinct! I have also seen gulls pin my falcon before!
    The only thing to expect in nature is to have no expectations, i have seen things most people wouldnt believe!
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