But first, it's important to have in the baggage of thinking a Trinitarian view of reality. Trinity is more than Biology, is a Natural Concept like Evolution, so you will see it in other fields, equally applied to Species as it is to Religion and Ideology.
It's important to notice, that Religion and Ideology are synthesis of the Species Will, were Species is the crude version of itself. With time, Human need for explanations and control of their environment, Species evolved to Religion, and finally, to its ultimate state of sophistication, Ideology. However, all the virtues and vicious they have come from the same source, Species.
So, there is the believe that the ultimate goal of Organisms is Self Preservation, were Organisms are Selfish entities like their genes.
"They are in you and in me; they created us, body and mind; and their preservation is the ultimate rationale for our existence. They have come a long way, those replicators. Now they go by the name of genes, and we are their survival machines.”This book reveals an ingenious trick, because Organisms are very unpredicted for a Selfish model, he diverts attentions to Genes. The problem is that Genes and Organisms are at the same level, and so aren't the direct subject of Evolution (except in the case of Prokaryotes where there is only Natural Selection). So, if organisms are carriers of Genes, they would also have the ultimate Self Preservation objective. However there is a problem, Suicide. About it Dawkins says the following.
― Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene
"The minimum requirement for a suicidal altruistic gene to be successful is that it should save more than two siblings (or children or parents), or more than four half-siblings (or uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, grandparents, grandchildren), or more than eight first cousins, etc. Such a gene, on average, tends to live on in the bodies of enough individuals saved by the altruist to compensate for the death of the altruist itself."It looks like for suicide to happen you need to have relatives and at the same tame be altruistic, because otherwise the math doesn't sum up! However the great majority of suicides have nothing to do with altruism, they are in reality very selfish, and normally are caused by isolation rather than a familiar environment. So, is there any Selfish Suicide that Dawkins wishes to talk about?
Restricting the usefulness of genes or its success to familiar relationships is a restriction that comes hand to hand with the Genes as the Object of Natural Selection. Genes may be favored by Natural Selection, but in Eukaryotes the ultimate object of Selection is the Species not the Gene. And so, no matter the familiar relationships, the gene will be successful as it will be the Species that encapsulates it. As in the Fisher's geometric model Genes are like a knob in the microscope where is the microscope who is adjusted to the environment not the knob! Strange that Dawkins doesn't realize that, despite Dawkins have named Fisher "the greatest biologist since Darwin". So, genes are supported by Natural Selection as its Species is, and by Sexual Selection as their Organisms are! Restricting evolution to Genes, is the same as restrict evolution to tools in a Factory, or an Organization, some tools make organizations more successful, but the success of those tools is measured by the success of its Organization not the contrary! By other words, Genes are encapsulated by Species when concerning Natural Selection.
So, there is no Selfish Gene, there is only Selfish Species, something that goes beyond any familiar relationship, and so, the so called Self Preservation is only applicable to Species. Organisms and their Genes are ultimately committed to other thing, they are committed to Conformity. An organism is prone to commit suicide if that Conformity is no possible and the resultant frustration pushes him to it, or the glory of a better conformity, were the first case is selfish and the second altruist regardless any familiar relationship.
In reality suicide is so Endemic that a news about a study of CDC concludes that:
Looking deeper into the data, though, shows a second astonishing fact that actually is surprising: just how high the gun-suicide rate really is. The preamble to the CDC’s National Vital Statistics Reports Vol. 60, No. 3 cites firearms as one of the “four major mechanisms of injury in 2009” (the year of the survey), along with poisoning, motor vehicles, and falling. In that year, 59.8% of all “firearm injury deaths” were suicides, and 36.7% were homicides. - in Who Knew? The Leading Cause Of Gun Death Is SuicideSo much for Self Preservation! Is this Altruism or just a big family? Organisms have no right to Self Preservation, Species and its derivatives do.
If Self Preservation was the ultimate goal of Organisms, there will be no need for Anti Suicide campaigns, or extremely care to remove from the market drugs that are very lethal, like the Barbiturates, that otherwise would be sold like popcorns thanks to a big demand, the same demand you have with those who have no restrictions to them.
Medical practitioners have a relatively high rate of suicide. Death entry data for doctors who died by suicide or undetermined cause between 1979 and 1995 in England and Wales were used to compare methods used for suicide by doctors with those used by the general population. Methods used were analysed according to gender, occupational status and speciality, to assess the extent to which access to dangerous means influences the pattern of suicide. Self‐poisoning with drugs was more common in the doctors than in general population suicides (57% vs. 26.6%; OR=3.65, 95% CI 2.85–4.68), including in retired doctors. Barbiturates were the most frequent drugs used. Half of the anaesthetists who died used anaesthetic agents. Self‐cutting was also more frequently used as a method of suicide. The finding that the greater proportion of suicide deaths in doctors were by self‐poisoning may reflect the fact that doctors have ready access to drugs, and have knowledge of which drugs and doses are likely to cause death. The specific finding that a large proportion of suicides in anaesthetists involved anaesthetic agents supports this explanation. Availability of method may be a factor contributing to the relatively high suicide rate of doctors. This fact might influence clinical management of doctors who are known to be depressed or suicidal. - in Doctors who kill themselves: a study of the methods used for suicideSo, what is the ultimate Goal for Organisms, Survival or Conformity?
There is a problem, Species don't make Conformity easy, there are all reasons not to conform and almost no reasons to do so, essentially because there is a single Optimum where all the rest is noise. At the same time Organism heritage from Species a cocktail of pseudo benign feelings pushing them to conformity that in case of failure immediately switch to pain.
Suicide when not a Species tool is a lesser evil. The problem of knowing the causes of suicide is the same as knowing the causes of Biologic Diseases, to many causes for a single consequence. So, is not what causes suicide but what avoids it. Like a Conformist Organism, everyone that is different at the eyes of the Species is a potential problem for it, and the causes of that difference may be infinite. In this way Organisms may be stressed to the point of committing suicide, and species being only concern about conformity have no problems with this side effect. Humans in special are very complex and consequently need to be very well tuned Organisms, and so, their lives must also be very well tuned to a kind of Standard Plot.
In great extent, is the divergence of this Plot that causes Suicide, as a Study shows, those who commit suicide already have a suicidal story, proving a divergence start from that Plot to a point of no return.
In a study published in the November issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health, researchers at the University of Washington surveyed 883 young adults ages 18 or 19 about previous suicide attempts and learned that 78 — close to 9% — had tried to commit suicide. - Study: 40% of Kids Who Attempt Suicide First Try in Elementary or Middle SchoolAlso, suicide may be a species tool in the case when it directly serves its interests, and we may have Altruistic situations that surely go behind those that Dawkins talks about. This is true for Species as it is for Religions and Ideologies. Organisms, Believers and Militants are no more than the needed infrastructure for a given standard Protocol. This protocol may demand them to commit suicide, and compliance is what is expected.
From religious martyrs, to feverous fighters its what they believe that sands still, regardless any voluntarism! So, Species, Religions and Ideologies may promote Suicide given the right conditions, with the ultimate goal of their Self Preservation.
Not surprisingly, Shame is an extensively explored feeling when it comes to Suicide. Like in Sex, its sole propose is absolute conformity, and in this respect is much more powerful than fear has ever been.
One goal to have, is making better Ideologies supported by better technologies, to avoid unnecessary cruelty, recognizing that if conformity is the ultimate human purpose it should be achieved in the most agreeable way possible. Making so, we are creating a Plot which divergence is less likely.