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People hunt for me,

but I am never what they catch.

People kill for me,

But only if I demand it.

Many claim me,

but never possess me.

Many place me,

but no one wants me.

I can represent death,

but I can also be something helpful.

Who knows? Maybe you've even used me.

What am I?

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4 Answers 4

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A bounty

People hunt for me, but I am never what they catch.

You hunt for a bounty, but cannot catch one; just the target.

People kill for me,

The object of most bounties are to kill the target.

But only if I demand it.

Bounties demand things to be killed.

Many claim me, but never possess me.

You can claim a bounty, but not possess one.

Many place me,

You can place a bounty,

but no one wants me.

... but you don't want one on you

I can represent death,

Bounties are mostly to kill.

but I can also be something helpful.

Bounties can eliminate dangerous people.

Who knows?

Maybe you've even used me.

You might have used a bounty to kill someone before, while it is doubtful.

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  • $\begingroup$ rot13(V guvax "Znlor lbh'ir rira hfrq zr." vf sbe fgnpxrkpunatr. Yvxr fgnpxrkpunatr obhagl.) $\endgroup$
    – Varun W.
    Commented Mar 29, 2022 at 1:58
  • $\begingroup$ rot13 (Gung vf cebonoyl gur pbeerpg nafjre, juvyr V ubcr gung zl nafjre vf fgvyy pbhagrq nf pbeerpg, juvyr va gur jebat pbagrkg nf vg vf.) $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 29, 2022 at 2:02
  • $\begingroup$ Sadly, I can't award the bounty until another 10 hours. Good job, though! $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 29, 2022 at 14:29
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( I hope the title was sarcastic ) I think the answer might be

peace

People hunt for me,

most people want peace

but I am never what they catch.

You can't catch peace

People kill for me,

A lot of wars are proclaimed to be for peace

But only if I demand it.

Many claim me,

A lot of people claim to be at peace

but never possess me.

It's impossible to truly be at peace

Many place me,

A lot of places are considered peaceful

but no one wants me.

If you are at peace all the time life can get pretty boring

I can represent death,

If someones dies, they say they're at peace now

but I can also be something helpful.

having a peaceful day or mind can be helpful

Who knows? Maybe you've even used me.

not completely sure about this one

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  • $\begingroup$ This a very good answer, but sadly not what I had in mind. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 22, 2022 at 16:20
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Does "object" imply that it is tangible? I have an intangible answer.

The Truth

People hunt for me,
but I am never what they catch.

There are no shortages of Truth seekers, but often answers lead to more questions, the entire truth still being out of grasp. "The truth" being sought to confirm falsehoods may never be found (looking for something that doesn't exist for example).

People kill for me, 
But only if I demand it.

"The Truth" may be intentionally hidden and requires force to reveal, not always is this the case. "The Truth" may be a religious cause that is fought over in some contexts where it may be literally demanded to kill the opposition.

Many claim me,
but never possess me.

Many folk claim to know "the truth" regarding the origins of the universe and what happens when we die, but there is no way to fully confirm "the truth" in these contexts. Humans can only know so much and some truths may never be knowable.

Many place me,
but no one wants me.

In the context of "The Truth" of death, many different groups place the afterlife in various locations of different names. Many sound like great places to be, but no one wants to die if they can avoid it, which is required generally to get there. Or, it may be that "the truth" invalidates the premise of an afterlife existing at all, to which no religion would accept.

I can represent death,
but I can also be something helpful.

"The Truth" may again refer to religious truths about the finality of life and death, usually coming with some revelations, but you gotta die to get those revelations. In most other situations though, knowing "the truth" of a problem or scenario will be helpful in making the right decision regarding such.

Who knows? Maybe you've even used me.
What am I?

It would be hard to find someone who hasn't employed "the truth" in a number of ways, absolving oneself of a false conviction, using prior obtained knowledge to make better choices going forward, etc. You are "The Truth" or perhaps, just "truth"

Abstract, but I figure that's probably a prerequisite anyway.

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  • $\begingroup$ Interesting thought, but pretty in depth. The actual answer isn't nearly this... deep. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 23, 2022 at 2:15
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What about:

Hunger

People hunt for me, but I am never what they catch.

The main reason (in the past) to hunt was to be fed, because they were hungry. They hunted the prey not the hunger.

People kill for me, But only if I demand it.

Again, related to the hunting.

Many claim me, but never possess me.

Someone could claim it ("I'm hungry"), but nobody can possess it.

Many place me, but no one wants me.

Some people could place it on (maybe on underdeveloped countries?), but no country wants its people to suffer from hunger.

I can represent death, but I can also be something helpful.

If you are hungry enough, you can literally die. But what about if you have a restaurant? Hungry is helpful for you.

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  • $\begingroup$ Oh sorry! One of the earlier answers was correct, but I had forgot to approve it (your answer was a good one as well.) $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 29, 2022 at 14:23

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