Of all animals, which are out there, only human-beings are capable of doing suicide. And that is probably because any primal forms of depression in lower organisms’ primal consciousness , would result in their death and removal from the gene pool. Depression, which is a state of being for a life-form, where it is anxious and stressed out all the time, always being a prey animal.( because of its own lack of skills or understanding or its plain ineptitude to navigate through existence, a large part of which is rough and cruel and unjust, in the sense that you dominate and get dominated by others, you climb and descend the dominance hierarchy, you are chosen by a sexual partner that you deem fit or you settle for someone clearly unfit for you, you proactively do things at times and let people run all over you at others). In lower life-forms, any sustained sense of anxiety or stress, or any primordial precedents of such traits, leads to its death in the natural environment which is cold, harsh and unforgiving . Where a mother herself would choke an offspring if she sees that it is unfit. Where your sibling would throw you off your nest on the ground, in case of this bird species I saw on discovery channel once, if you are weak and don’t deserve to survive. So, either weakness is nipped in the bud or if it somehow sneaks into existence, falls off a cliff, or drown in a river, because of its own mental weaknesses.
Because in animals where consciousness is not evolved enough, weakness, either mental or physical, is of no significance. It is in fact a hindrance in survival. The extra member feeding off the grassland and causing harm to rest of the group.
Only in humans, we allowed, first, individuals with mental weaknesses and shortcomings to survive and grow up into adults and much later, even physical weaknesses were not seen as a big problem. We started providing scientific answers to our follies, at least more clearly, in case of physical shortcomings of man. But when it comes to mental ineptitude, we are still miles away from coming up with a solution where we can make a mentally weak (not in the sense that he/she is slow or retarded, but that he/she does not understands the way to socialize and navigate his/her way through life, he/she is unable to figure out a healthy mode of being for his soul, so to speak.) person suitable enough to survive in the world. We have volumes talking about a healthy body and which bodies would qualify for it. There are standards on which you can measure, let’s say, your eyesight and see if you have a ‘healthy eyesight ‘ or not. If not, you can make use of science, to reach or approach that standard of health.(This is the case , rationalists such as Sam Harris make when they claim that everything need not be defined within the evolutionary paradigm as we are using Science , increasingly on a year to year basis, to subvert and overcome our evolutionary follies, at-least more clearly in terms of our physical health)
But when it comes to modes of being, or mental states, first of all, there are no definition of ‘healthy’ defined, let alone the scientific methods which we can use to reach those standards of health.(except of course in extreme cases of chemical imbalances, which are treated, still shrouded in mystery, about whether bringing the balance itself is the true cure or how are those chemicals deciding and guiding our waking consciousness)
In this way, we have been successful in creating a society which has a very clear idea and sense of what it means to be ‘physically healthy’ and the idea of ‘physical well-being which is ensured to you by law. Checks and balances are in place to guard and protect it for you, if you are incapable of doing it yourself. At the same time, the ideas of ‘mental health’ are still vague, because any question in this direction would lead us to the moral and ethical questions about our existence, which we are hell bent on avoiding on all costs because our old answers, about heaven and hell and gods in high clouds remain shattered on the ground after the scientific revolution. In such imbalance , people are driven to suicide, because they know that even if their mental health keeps on deterioration and they become more and more incapable of leading a normal existence, society won’t allow them to die, unless they take their life by their own hands.(the moral dilemma associated with topics such as euthanasia and abortion stemming from the same point, as there is a lack of congruity between the old ideas about well-being, which incorporate answers for both physical and psychical , though the psychical answers invariably leading to miracles and gods and such things which are deemed impossible by proponents of the new idea of existence which solely account and considers ‘physical health’ as the sole parameter of well-being. This incongruity, at least on parts of the proponents of the new idea, about human well-being, leads them to be in the “extreme-progressive side” where they claim that a 60-year-old guy pretending to be a 6-year-old girl is still somehow ‘healthy’ as there are no clear standards for psychical health)
And I think, this is the problem people such as Dr. Peterson are trying to address in all earnestness and with a certain level of honesty which is quite absent from the other new age religious types with their mumbo-jumbo. Even though, professor Peterson himself is trying to derive some emergent meaning from the old religious stories and is making a case for it not in its literal sense, but it’s biological and evolutionary implications.