The door is open.
This is one of Epictetus’ favorite retorts to someone who complains that he has suffered too many misfortunes and his life is no longer worth living. If that is your judgment, says Epictetus bluntly, then stop living. But whatever you choose to do, stop whining. Choose to live and endure what must be endured, or choose to die.
Fair enough, but we should also remember that there are people living horrific lives that they wish to end but cannot. I’m thinking of people permanently paralyzed by strokes and accidents. Some of these people quite reasonably wish to die but cannot elect to do so, because they no longer have the means to kill themselves. The decision whether they shall be permitted to die has escheated to relatives and physicians and insurance companies, each with their own agendas. So for these people at least Epictetus’ advice is not very useful. The door was open, but now it has slammed shut.
( Consider: Were these people not harmed when they were deprived of this fundamental choice? And is not what harms us an evil? )
But let me ask Epictetus another question about his "the door is open" recommendation. Is being dead supposed to be something good? It may be a better choice than continuing to live a horrible life, but it is something good? I thought the Stoic view was that living virtuously, or at least choosing to live virtuously, was the greatest good? If that is so, consider this. Suppose we take a talented young person who aspires to a worthwhile career, a family, a position of civic and community leadership—all the roles you Stoics commend--and then frustrate all of these aspirations by inflicting dire poverty or ill-health or unjust imprisonment upon him. Denying him the possibility of pursuing the good life he intends, we also deny him the possibilty of electing or choosing such a life. We cannot choose what we know is impossible for us.
“But you have not harmed his faculty of choice,” replies Epictetus. I think I have. If there is nothing good left to choose, what good is choice? How can I make a good choice? Have I not deprived him of possibility of choosing to pursue a worthwhile life? Have I not greviously harmed him, ruining what could have been a good life, by inflicting upon the evils of poverty or confinement or disabling ill health?