Modern people usually discuss suicide from scientific views and treat it as a kind of disease. Suicidal behavior occurs under the influence of psychological or physiological illness; it is an involuntary behavior. People who commit suicide are deemed the "victims" of their illnesses. All what we should do is to prevent, to intervene and to postvent their suicidal behavior.
However, some cases of suicide are not due to illness. They are the result of voluntary and deliberate moral choice. The reasons of committing suicide are associated with the ethical values of people in the same period of time and in the same community. For example, the moral principle of "zhen" played an important role in woman suicide of Ming Dynasty. In Ming Dynasty, " zhen" was manifested in three ways: (1) "Congi er yongzhong", women should commit suicide after the death of their husbands in order to express loyalty. (2) "Daili er zhengshi", women should commit suicide if they have inappropriate sexual relations with other people, such as pre-marital sex, in order to express their regret and to cover up their sinful behavior. (3) "Sijie", women should commit suicide in order to avoid being raped.
Although the government and some intellectuals in Ming Dynasty encouraged women to commit suicide for "men", the suicide and suicide attempt cases in San Yan show that women should consider other moral principles and other values of life and death before they commit suicide. We found that the moral principle of "xiao" overrode the moral principle of "men" in some cases of woman suicide and suicide attempt in San Yan. In Chinese society, "xiao" was manifested in three ways: (l) "Fengyang shuangqin", women should keep their lives for supporting and serving their parents. (2) "Fengyang sizi", women should keep their lives for bringing up their children. (3) "Wei Jiaren Baochou", women should keep their lives for avenging their dead family members. Under the moral principle of "xiao", women should give up suicide. The purpose of this paper is to uncover the underlying values of woman suicide in Ming Dynasty and give an ethical analysis on it.