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A scientist creates device that allows some degree of communication with the afterlife. The communication is very difficult and the dead can only pass small bits of information on, so there is a lot of we still don't know, but it appears so far that most of the Dead are happy in a peaceful place, much happier than they were on Earth. There are some scientists who claim to have communicated with spirits who are living in the place of extreme suffering but those are only a few and not taken seriously by scientific community or the populace generally.

Given this scenario, how do I explain no increase in suicide rates after this device is mass-produced and many people can verify the discovery for themselves?

More detailed information: The device has trouble communicating specific words or concepts but can quite reliably communicate ideas such as happiness or pain. The device has trouble picking out a specific spirit to talk to.

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    $\begingroup$ easy they can't find any suicides in the afterlife, making many suspect you can't get there by suicide. Or some "spirits" actually say you can't get there by suicide or suicide equals lots and lots of pain. $\endgroup$ – John Mar 5 '17 at 5:28
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    $\begingroup$ Is nobody sceptical that this device actually works? $\endgroup$ – Wen Mar 5 '17 at 6:38
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    $\begingroup$ @Wen no no more than there skeptical about how a particle accelerator works. They may not know the details but accepted by scientists or other public figures so they accepted. $\endgroup$ – Bryan McClure Mar 5 '17 at 15:43
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    $\begingroup$ What does this device do that a chatbot equipped with a cold-reading script from a "spiritual medium" can not do equally well? It doesn't look like there's actually a lot of proof for people to be convinced. $\endgroup$ – Cyrus Mar 6 '17 at 8:27
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    $\begingroup$ @BryanMcClure Ah, but I also have a "Scientist" who can explain my device much more confidently using smaller words, as well as tell you some killer stocks to buy... My point is even if people try it for themselves, they will have strong doubts regarding the true function of the device, and no way to verify. $\endgroup$ – Cyrus Mar 6 '17 at 15:33
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1) There's so little information coming in from the spirit world that lots of people think it is a hoax, especially since you can't pick a specific spirit. Also, how much do they remember of their former lives? Do they drink from the river Lethe?

2) It hasn't been proven that EVERYONE goes to the afterlife. Notably, if no one who died of suicide is ever heard from, that indicates that suicide interferes with going to this happy place.

3) There's no proof that these are even spirits of those departed, as:

device has trouble communicating specific words or concepts but can we use quite reliably to communicate ideas such as happiness or pain.

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  • $\begingroup$ +1 for Option 2. I edited the text to make it explicit how not hearing from suicides would lead people to avoid suicide. $\endgroup$ – SRM - Reinstate Monica Mar 5 '17 at 12:27
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    $\begingroup$ Again, +1 for Option 2. You should really make that option 1. If suicide sends you to hell, and everyone knows for a fact that suicide sends you to hell, you will see a lot LESS suicides. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Mar 5 '17 at 18:58
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    $\begingroup$ You might expand option 1, since it's really two distinct points. Being "happy" because you got lobotomized isn't really a selling point for some of us. $\endgroup$ – MichaelS Mar 6 '17 at 7:15
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Suicides to get to the happy place increase, but regular suicides decrease. People who had been committing suicide to end it all now realize that they're still going to be around afterward. What's the point in that?

The net result is that the decrease offsets the increase. So on average, no increase.

You can also talk about people on the other side who talk about things that they wish they had done first. Even though they are generally happy, they still have regrets.

If all else fails, go with the Christian solution. Suicides don't go to the happy place but to the unhappy place.

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Your best bet here might be to ask a few of the several billion religious people on Earth why they don't commit suicide. Many people very firmly believe they're heading to an afterlife when this life is done, but suicide isn't particularly common. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. In many religions, suicide is considered an unforgivable sin. Well, at least in Catholicism, but I think there are others. (It seems the Catholic church no longer teaches this, but the idea is definitely real.)

  2. Many religions teach that we're on this planet for a purpose, and committing suicide is contrary to that purpose.

  3. If there's an eternal afterlife waiting after this one, what difference will a few more decades make?

  4. Many religions talk about rewards in the afterlife being commensurate with accomplishments in this life. Who wants to be stuck in the ghetto of heaven for eternity when they could suck it up and try for the Ritz?

  5. As long as your friends and family aren't killing themselves left and right, committing suicide will cause them grief, anguish, and hardship. Putting them through this isn't very nice, is it?

  6. Just because there are hardships in life doesn't mean everyone is miserable and just waiting for a better place. Lots of people actually enjoy this life and aren't in any particular rush to leave it behind.

  7. Of course, not everyone is really sure about the whole afterlife thing, so they're less willing to take the risk. As noted in some other answers and comments, the premises of the OP don't lend to undeniable proof of anything, so the "I'm religious but don't really believe" crowd will still exist.

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    $\begingroup$ Personally I would also add that some religions believe in reincaination, so for them this discovery could be interpreted differently. $\endgroup$ – Mac70 Mar 6 '17 at 9:10
  • $\begingroup$ One additional element is that often the afterlife is considered static or serene in a way which the world isn't. So while the afterlife may be happier, there are things you can't do except in the world. $\endgroup$ – ikrase Mar 7 '17 at 8:22
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There's not information from the other side to convince most people conclusively that things are better in the afterlife. The basic description of this device and what it communicates suggests it is highly unreliable.

As a thought experiment if people had easy access to what life was like in the afterlife, then if everything was hunky-dory people could be convinced that passing over would be a good thing. In which case, suicide might be on the increase.

Taking into account the thought experiment as a counterfactual and comparing this with the facts that the situation with your device is so uncertain and definitely not informative, then sensibly people aren't likely to be catching the suicide express. Basically it's ordinary skepticism at work. Also, people do tend to be reluctant to kill themselves. Death might be OK, but dying can be messy and painful. Besides we will go there sooner or later, and later might be a better bet.

EDIT:

Comments raised issues about veracity and belief. Consideration of those issues raised another possibility entirely. Of course, most major religions will endorse of a 'proven' afterlife and as proof of their faiths. (The inverted commas are there because poor communication to the afterlife suggests there are good reasons to doubt its authenticity.) However, the majority of major religions do not endorse suicide and as a result are quite likely to preach strongly against their adherents from committing suicide.

Therefore, the failure for suicide rates to increase is a response to this preaching against suicide by the religious authorities.

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    $\begingroup$ This seems to be a question dodge. The whole thrust of OP is that most people believe the device -- without that assumption, the question is pointless. Restating the question: There's a better place, we all know it, but we choose not to go sooner. Why? $\endgroup$ – SRM - Reinstate Monica Mar 5 '17 at 12:29
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    $\begingroup$ @SRM Question dodge! "The communication is very difficult and the dead can only pass small bits of information on, so there is a lot of we still don't know, but it appears so far that most of the Dead are happy in a peaceful place, much happier than they were on Earth." The Q makes it clear communication is poor, which actually makes it hard to believe anyone can be sure the Dead are happy, so this answer used that uncertainty as sufficient reason to hesitate. Dare I suggest you re-read the Q to note its ambiguities and uncertainties? As for "we all know it", not accordingly to the Q itself. $\endgroup$ – a4android Mar 5 '17 at 13:10
  • $\begingroup$ It makes no sense to even ask, "Why don't suicides increase when we get proof of a happy afterlife and no one believes it?" There's no substance to that question. The OP makes clear that communication is poor but NOT that people doubt the veracity. Why would OP even ask the question if the people didn't believe it? $\endgroup$ – SRM - Reinstate Monica Mar 5 '17 at 17:35
  • $\begingroup$ @SRM The problem is if communication is poor how can people know or believe they have proof of a happy afterlife. The fact suicides haven't increased suggests they don't believe it. There might be an official line that the afterlife is happy. The social pressure to endorse a happy afterlife would be strong. However -- and suggests an edit -- so read my edited answer. $\endgroup$ – a4android Mar 6 '17 at 0:51
  • $\begingroup$ I just took the poor comms to mean we cannot pass messages back and forth to ask questions and we cannot check on a specific person. $\endgroup$ – SRM - Reinstate Monica Mar 6 '17 at 2:55
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  • There is no deep trust in the message coming from after life. They might perceive it as an biased "afterlife advertising", trying to fool people in undertaking a one-way journey.
  • They might suspect the ratio unhappy/happy is 1000/1 or so, but they keep hearing only the few being in the happy place because the local ruler only allows them to talk.
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  • $\begingroup$ That thing with the “one-way journey” would really magnify any uncertainty or trepidation when making the decision; enough to make it a full reason in its own right. $\endgroup$ – can-ned_food Aug 21 '17 at 5:03
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The afterlife may be happy, but the process of dying is very unpleasant. Kind of like going to the dentist, without Novocaine.

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**There are some unusual anomalies with portal use to enter Earth life, including that when Earth's departure portal is activated, the very next destination cycle after Earth is never the Origin dimension. **

Those within the Origin dimension well understand the mechanism and processes of their common portal use to various numerous destinations, and prepare their portal travelers subconsciously for what to expect on arrival in that dimension (approximate fetal growth and incubation time, birthing method, likely atmosphere at birth, etc.). There is however, a special deviation in portal use in that whenever destination Earth is chosen, they recognize that those people never return to Origin dimension immediately upon departure from Earth.

Rarely, people return to Origin dimension after one other dimension cycle, most after several other cycles, and some only after many, many other dimension cycles. There are some who have still not returned. None ever return directly from Earth to Origin after one cycle, and portal usage cannot be tracked until they return to Origin. Because of this and other unusual anomalies seen with Earth destination portal use (usual between-dimension communication is disrupted for people within Earth dimension; it is extremely complex and rarely easily perceived), there is an off-shoot of portal travel study that specializes on this destination.

Through the millennia, the portal travel patterns of people who chose Earth destination and eventually returned have been studied extensively. These studies have identified one anomaly where, for some unknown reason, anyone choosing to intentionally activate the departure portal from the Earth dimension prior to Earth dimension's naturally occurring exit-portal activation protocols (death) are those that experience the highest number of additional Earth dimension cycles prior to their return to Origin.

For the majority of Origin portal travelers, this is a huge deterrent to dimensional travel, for various reasons, including the fact that most of them do not want to risk being limited to only one dimension for so long, and even possibly for always. Because some very high-value experiences have been reported from the Earth dimension experiences that have not yet been found within any other dimensions, portal specialists have devised a method that seems to have greatly reduced this risk through additional subconscious programming. They are now including additional programming with a very simple basic protocol that embeds at a preeminent level into the Earth life-forms: extremely strong individual survival drive.

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Clearly, the people who try to end their lives sooner so that they can go to this happy place will not end up in the place of happiness, and that is one of the bits of information conveyed by the people in the place of pain, that many of them intentionally tried to shorten their lives (some by suicide) just so that they could get to the happy place sooner. As for how they knew about the happy place, that could be easily explained by a local religion.

Note that all suicides causing you to not go to the happy place is completely optional, and you could allow (or choose against allowing) people who commit suicide for some other reason (maybe they just want to end their pain in this life) to still go to the happy place.

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