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Better late than never
So, to respond to several different threads at once...

a) Re jumping an S-level being equivalent to suicide.

This is actually a bit more complicated. Specifically, in OA there are two types of 'jump' from a lower to a higher S-level:

Ascension: To Ascend is to jump to a higher S-level, while still pretty much retaining your original memories, sense of self, personality, motivations, etc.

Transcension - To Transcend is to jump to a higher S-level, while also undergoing a drastic change in personality, sense of self, and motivations such that even though all of one's pre-transcension knowledge and memories are retained, the resulting being is effectively a totally different sophont. In extreme cases, the resulting new being may decide to take up a radically different set of activities or interests than what it had before - abandoning or even destroying an entire civilization that it created while at its previous S-level if it was already a transapient to begin with - or seeking to eliminate or drastically re-engineer the civilization it was a part of as a modosophont. Cross-ref with some Blights and Perversions in the really bad cases.

Getting back to the point under discussion, a transcension event is seen by some (many) as a form of suicide or accidental death. Much of the effort that goes into preparing to ascend is intended to maximize the odds that the resulting S-jump with be an Ascension rather than a Transcension. Another big part is to maximize the odds that even if a transcension occurs it will be benign (and a big part of having other transapients supervise the process is to both maximize the odds of ascension and be on hand to restrain the resulting new transap if it proves to be unstable or dangerous.

That said, not all sophonts are equally concerned about this across the setting. Some people will use less reliable preparation methods and some will use Godseeds or other tech to 'instantly' jump an S-level, even though the risks are much higher with these techniques/technologies.

b) Re humans (or whomever) losing all human traits even after ascending successfully.

As Rynn says, the actual speed of this process can vary (both objectively and subjectively) and it is much more akin to maturing from child to adult or possibly to drifting away from your current circle of friends (and they from you) as you all age, or move away, or whatever. Coming at this from another direction - imagine if you grew up to be an adult, but your friends all stayed 4yrs old. Or if you evolved overnight into a human while your friends and family all stayed early hominids. There is an element of that in ascension as well. After all, to an S1 transapient, a modosophont is in many ways little more than a clever (but almost totally predictable) animal. And in the current era there is usually an entire culture of other transapients to interact with plus all the new senses and abilities of an S1 to explore and whole new activities that become possible with those.

In an nutshell, one's friends and family might still be thought of fondly or cared about greatly, and with genuine feeling. But they would also quickly become a comparatively much smaller part of one's existence and also almost totally predictable and easy to manipulate, even if you have no ill intent in doing so. After all, everyone (or nearly everyone) already runs predictive modes about friends, family, and associates and engages in actions that can be called manipulation from a certain pov. What happens when that all gets cranked up to such a huge degree that your friends and family can't ever surprise you or start to bore you (you can always adjust your boredom away of course, but will you keep doing that forever - especially if you were ready to take the big leap forward to become a transapient in the first place, knowing what the consequences could be?) and you find yourself gently manipulating them to speed up interactions or get what you want, because it requires so little effort. Etc. Note also that in Y11k, your friends and family would know you would have this level of ability as a transapient, which might color their perceptions of/nteractions with you in various ways.

My 2c worth,

Well, yeah. They don't exactly lose their human traits, but they become a lower brain function. Much like emotion is the highest brain function (probably) for, say, a dog, but only middling in the hierarchy for a human, human consciousness is no longer, paradoxically, what an ascended human uses as eir consciousness, even though e still has it.

My lifelong goal: To add "near" to my "baseline" classification.

Lucid dreaming: Because who says baseline computronium can't run virches?
This topic reminds me of the Minervan clade that are raised alongside the children of Athenaeids. As a Minervan you would find the gap between you and your childhood friends to be even greater than it is for people in real life. Your old companions would be able to predict your every move, and there would be nothing you could do or say that would interest them in any way.

As you and your Athenaeid friends entered adolescence, you'd slowly notice them becoming less and less human in their behaviours. While you might have been equals as children, now they would surpass in every field you studied together. In fact, as your friends began fully ascending to the next toposophic, they would be raising you as a pet through their interactions with you, like how a human might train a dog.

Bullying could take on terrifying new dimensions with an immature, Transavant tormentor. Perhaps their parents would predict such a possibility and step in to prevent it, or perhaps they'd allow it to happen because it would further some incomprehensible goal of theirs.

As adults, you might find that your old friends have learned to mask their Transapience completely - except when they do something creepy that appears to make little sense to you. You might get on well with them, but it would be hard to call it a friendship when you have so little to offer them in return, and when they subtly control you through their every action.

It's odd that Athenaeids even adopted Minervans to begin with, actually. They strike me as an inferior option to just spawning an army of superbright Vots to do all the boring stuff. On the other hand, the article on Fata Morgana II hints that their emergence was somehow an outcome of the 'Cookie Wars' so I guess you can chalk it down to Transapients being incomprehensible weirdos.

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