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Thread: Should suicide be legal?

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    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    Should suicide be legal?

    Big question today on Public Radio.

    Some replies were:

    1. No because of religious convictions
    2. Yes but only because of incurable disease
    3. Yes if all personal matters have been dealt with.

    Does a person planning suicide have a right to choose?

    Should the government get involved in suicides?

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    I would say it should not be legal. In cases of terminal illness, the options open for pain care in hospice amount to the same thing, but the context makes a difference. Can high doses of pain medicine be lethal? Yes, over time, but it's not a reason to let terminal patients spend their last hours on earth in pain. This is already legal, and it's not considered suicide.

    If suicide were legal, it would essentially be society's way of thumbing its nose at people who have difficulty fitting into society. Seems pretty selfish and inhumane to me. Many people threaten to commit suicide because they need help and are desparate to have someone reach out to them, and the last thing they need is for someone to pass them the gun, noose or syringe.

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    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by debdelilah View Post
    I would say it should not be legal. In cases of terminal illness, the options open for pain care in hospice amount to the same thing, but the context makes a difference. Can high doses of pain medicine be lethal? Yes, over time, but it's not a reason to let terminal patients spend their last hours on earth in pain. This is already legal, and it's not considered suicide
    What if the suicide person is not in pain and has no desire to live? and has taken his life, what is the penalty for the illegality?

    Pain is not the reasons for all suicides. I think in all cases it boils down to quality of life. As the actor, George Sanders wrote in his suicide note; I have done it all. What's the point?

    What should a man do, when his wife of 50 years passed away and he is left without anyone. They were soul partners and now that's gone.

    I don't think the question of legality should come up. it's all part of a person's right to choose. There should be a time period for 'changing one's mind'. Of course he has to find a doctor to assist this but not actually cause the death.
    .

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    Forum translator Ptichka's Avatar
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    Yes, I believe that a person has a right to end their own life. Having said that, often a suicide attempt is a manifestation of mental illness, and therefore the society feels obliged to help the person if such an attempt is unsuccessful.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joesitz View Post
    What if the suicide person is not in pain and has no desire to live? and has taken his life, what is the penalty for the illegality?

    Pain is not the reasons for all suicides. I think in all cases it boils down to quality of life. As the actor, George Sanders wrote in his suicide note; I have done it all. What's the point?

    What should a man do, when his wife of 50 years passed away and he is left without anyone. They were soul partners and now that's gone.

    I don't think the question of legality should come up. it's all part of a person's right to choose. There should be a time period for 'changing one's mind'. Of course he has to find a doctor to assist this but not actually cause the death.
    .
    I think the problem is that the desire to harm oneself, as well as the desire to harm others, is considered a sign of psychosis. Grieving is normal; intense depression can be normal in some situations, and also temporary. If it is not temporary--if it is long term depression--then it is almost always treatable. People are depressed because they are isolated, because they have a B-12 deficiency or a problem with seratonin release, etc. Telling depressed people that it is socially acceptable that they kill themselves is merely feeding into the low self-esteem that they already have and dodging the responsibility for welcoming the person back into society and treating the depression.

    Thinking about this by percentages--50% of women in America experience clinical depression at some time in their lives. "Cutting" is a huge problem in adolescent girls. If people over the age of eighteen had the legal right to kill themselves, there would be a lot of parents going mad with grief now. Children, too, because depression and feeling like a burden is also a problem with the elderly.

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    I think, first of all we should separate two concepts - suicide and euthanasia. In my opinion the euthanasia should be legal if 1) there is absolutely no possibility of recovery, 2) the patient is willing for the euthanasia.

    The suicide, however, I think, should be prevented in any case. If any society accepts the suicide or even seriously questions itself if it should be legal (and that's what happens here, right?), that society has some really big problems. The accepting of suicide is just a big fail of government and society that shows their complete incapacity of taking care about others and giving them the reason for living.

    Joesitz
    What should a man do, when his wife of 50 years passed away and he is left without anyone. They were soul partners and now that's gone.
    What a man should do if his parents die?
    I understand that all this can be very painful, but we should continue... for our friends, for our children. And even if we don't have them, still I think life has to offer a lot anyway.
    Quote Originally Posted by George Sanders
    I have done it all.
    It's impossible to have done it all. If you have done everything, you should make a new goals in your life.
    Last edited by dorispulaski; 07-28-2009 at 06:05 AM. Reason: Joe Sitz did not say he had done it all; George Sanders wrote that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by debdelilah View Post
    If people over the age of eighteen had the legal right to kill themselves, there would be a lot of parents going mad with grief now.
    I suffered from depression during my late teen years. I frequently thought about suicide. Whenever I thought about it, I NEVER, not even once, thought, "Oh, well, suicide's illegal, that's why I won't kill myself today." I would be very surprised if anyone actually decided not to commit suicide because it is illegal.

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    Minusaramadad from Arctaroon John King's Avatar
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    Yes, because one's life is one's own property. It is immaterial whether one believe's this is signalling societie's 'approval' of suicide, as so long as I do not violate another person's life, liberty or property, what I do with my own life is my own business, regardless of societie's 'approval'. Does one's suicide upset friends and family? Undoubtably. So does one's slow suicide by drinking or drug use. Should those things be illegal? As a libertarian, I say no. (There is a separate issue of what to do in the case of leaving behind unfinished business, whether it's offspring, or an unpaid debt. But just as there are legal ways to handle this when it happens in cases of sudden accidental death, there should be similar legal ways to deal with it in cases of suicide).

    Anyways, the title of this thread is a misnomer. How do you legally punish someone who has committed suicide? The real question is, should attempted suicide be legal? I still say yes. Your life is your own. That doesn't mean that I won't try to talk the person out of it, if I feel their reason is out of depression. It is that I cannot force them to substitute my ( or societie's) judgement over their own for what should essentially be their decision.

    If it isn't for reasons of terminal illness, and is an out-and-out case of depression, is suicide a sign of mental illness? Perhaps. But, just as in the case of alcoholism and substance abuse (including prescription drugs), the time for the law to step in with cases of mental illness is when the person has violated, or threatened to violate, another person's life liberty or property. Just as there are organisations like AA to deal with alcoholics, there are several organisations to help people deal with depression that some feel might lead to suicide.

    Inquiry: if it were to be illegal, what should be the punishment for attempted suicide? A fine? That should take the weight off the would-be's shoulders. Incarceration? What a great idea, putting a guy/gal who doesn't feel life is worth living intogether with murderers, rapists, arsonists, fraud-schemers, etc. My guess is that if a person has attempted suicide, but failed, there are those who feel the person should be committed to a psychiatric institution, and forced to undergo therapy. Sorry, but incarceration is still incarceration. The end does not justify the means.

    I'm not trying to treat the subject lightly. Several years ago, an Uncle of mine committed suicide. But that was his decision, just as some acquaintances decision to commit slow drawn-out suicide with drink or drugs was theirs. Society should be built upon choice, even if the choices might be most upsetting for loved ones.
    Last edited by John King; 07-27-2009 at 07:34 PM.

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    John King
    That doesn't mean that I won't try to talk the person out of it, if I feel their reason is out of depression. It is that I cannot force them to substitute my ( or societie's) judgement over their own for what should essentially be their decision.
    So you want to say, that if someone is about to jump from the roof of a very high building, we shouldn't try to save him by any means other than "talking" because that would be impairment of his rights?

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    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    Is it illegal? I mean, how does one prosecute those that are "successful"? and in the case of those that aren't... I've never heard of anyone getting sent to court, they always end up "getting help"...

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    Minusaramadad from Arctaroon John King's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel5555 View Post
    John King
    So you want to say, that if someone is about to jump from the roof of a very high building, we shouldn't try to save him by any means other than "talking" because that would be impairment of his rights?
    No, because of the very obvious issue of him possibly harming people below. Did you miss the part where I said "so long as (the person attempting suicide) does not violate another person's life liberty or property...." ? Going onto a rooftop without athourization is trespassing, to say the very least.

    If I saw a stranger or, more important, a loved one, trying to end their life, of course I would try to intevene, circumstances permitting. And I would try to get that person help. It is one of those 'lifeboat' situations where my ethical code takes a back seat to my gut instict. But should the guy be incarcerated for it, whether in jail or in an institution? That was the main point of this thread. And my answer still is no!

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    Quote Originally Posted by John King View Post
    Yes, because one's life is one's own property. It is immaterial whether one believe's this is signalling societie's 'approval' of suicide, as so long as I do not violate another person's life, liberty or property, what I do with my own life is my own business, regardless of societie's 'approval'. Does one's suicide upset friends and family? Undoubtably. So does one's slow suicide by drinking or drug use. Should those things be illegal? As a libertarian, I say no. (There is a separate issue of what to do in the case of leaving behind unfinished business, whether it's offspring, or an unpaid debt. But just as there are legal ways to handle this when it happens in cases of sudden accidental death, there should be similar legal ways to deal with it in cases of suicide).

    Anyways, the title of this thread is a misnomer. How do you legally punish someone who has committed suicide? The real question is, should attempted suicide be legal? I still say yes. Your life is your own. That doesn't mean that I won't try to talk the person out of it, if I feel their reason is out of depression. It is that I cannot force them to substitute my ( or societie's) judgement over their own for what should essentially be their decision.

    If it isn't for reasons of terminal illness, and is an out-and-out case of depression, is suicide a sign of mental illness? Perhaps. But, just as in the case of alcoholism and substance abuse (including prescription drugs), the time for the law to step in with cases of mental illness is when the person has violated, or threatened to violate, another person's life liberty or property. Just as there are organisations like AA to deal with alcoholics, there are several organisations to help people deal with depression that some feel might lead to suicide.

    Inquiry: if it were to be illegal, what should be the punishment for attempted suicide? A fine? That should take the weight off the would-be's shoulders. Incarceration? What a great idea, putting a guy/gal who doesn't feel life is worth living intogether with murderers, rapists, arsonists, fraud-schemers, etc. My guess is that if a person has attempted suicide, but failed, there are those who feel the person should be committed to a psychiatric institution, and forced to undergo therapy. Sorry, but incarceration is still incarceration. The end does not justify the means.

    I'm not trying to treat the subject lightly. Several years ago, an Uncle of mine committed suicide. But that was his decision, just as some acquaintances decision to commit slow drawn-out suicide with drink or drugs was theirs. Society should be built upon choice, even if the choices might be most upsetting for loved ones.
    -Illegality of suicide is the status quo, and that doesn't mean that we are imprisoning people who attempt suicide at all, much less with rapists. People who attempt suicide are more likely to be treated with a brief hospital stay, and then on an outpatient basis. The harm in making suicide legal is that when a person lacks appropriate mental capacity(such as a child, an elder with dementia, or a person with psychosis) society stands in loco parentis. The decision to commit suicide, in and of itself, meets the definition of psychosis. Allowing it to occur is neglect leading to loss of life. Laws do not require children to fend for themselves, and should also not require this of the mentally ill. From my perspective, it is unequivocably wrong for society to allow suicide for the same reason that it is wrong to allow child neglect, and the illegality is on the part of those who allow it to occur, not on the part of a person who attempts suicide.

    To argue the point of harm, though--assuming a rational person not in either physical or mental anguish somehow decided to commit suicide, how is this less harmful than a person deciding to expose themselves naked in public? It causes emotional distress, not physical harm or loss of property, but it is still illegal. Friends, family and colleagues scheduling death appointments would cause more of a bump in the road than people showing up naked to work, in my opinion.

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    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    some posters correctly state that thoughts of suicide are brought about by depresssion. yet depression caused by so many things.

    I believe suicide is caused by loneliness, which, of course brings on depression. Counselling loneliness doesn't work if the person is of an age and place where joining clubs does not exists.

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    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tonichelle View Post
    Is it illegal? I mean, how does one prosecute those that are "successful"? and in the case of those that aren't... I've never heard of anyone getting sent to court, they always end up "getting help"...
    Some people whose suicide attempts have killed others have gone to court. However, AFAIK in that case, I believe the charge is murder or manslaughter, as in this case with the guy who derailed a train:

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,145548,00.html

    Sometimes, people have been arrested for suicide:
    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstrac...619C94659FD7CF

    The above is an NYT article from 1884.

    Another from 1904

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstrac...609C946597D6CF

    However, here is a case of a woman in 2004 who was arrested in Georgia for attempted suicide. It looks like she was arrested rather than just let go because she had attempted suicide before, and was pregnant:

    http://www.modernghana.com/news/6030...d-suicide.html

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    Minusaramadad from Arctaroon John King's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by debdelilah View Post
    -Illegality of suicide is the status quo, and that doesn't mean that we are imprisoning people who attempt suicide at all, much less with rapists. People who attempt suicide are more likely to be treated with a brief hospital stay, and then on an outpatient basis. The harm in making suicide legal is that when a person lacks appropriate mental capacity(such as a child, an elder with dementia, or a person with psychosis) society stands in loco parentis. The decision to commit suicide, in and of itself, meets the definition of psychosis. Allowing it to occur is neglect leading to loss of life. Laws do not require children to fend for themselves, and should also not require this of the mentally ill. From my perspective, it is unequivocably wrong for society to allow suicide for the same reason that it is wrong to allow child neglect, and the illegality is on the part of those who allow it to occur, not on the part of a person who attempts suicide.

    To argue the point of harm, though--assuming a rational person not in either physical or mental anguish somehow decided to commit suicide, how is this less harmful than a person deciding to expose themselves naked in public? It causes emotional distress, not physical harm or loss of property, but it is still illegal. Friends, family and colleagues scheduling death appointments would cause more of a bump in the road than people showing up naked to work, in my opinion.
    As in all things about legality, I am/was referring to what adults are legally allowed to do. Children are not adults, and parents who bring them into the world have an obligation to raise them until they reach the age to fend for themselves (and if they can't, give them up for adoption). As for the elderly with dementia, my paternal Grandmother had that, couldn't take care of herself, which was why we had her committed to an institution. The point is, she lacked the mental faculties to object, which made the whole question of 'consent' a moot point. This is different from a grown adult whose distress had taken priority over their otherwise normal mental faculties. As for exposing oneself in public, that again is a separate issue of mores while in public.

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