Should suicide be legal?

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Following the question should voluntary euthanasia be legal?, should suicide be legal as well? Do we own our own lives so completely that we have a right to end them? Or do we owe certain obligations to our communities and societies that we should stay alive even when we may want to die? Suicide is legal. It is effectively illegal.

Suicide should be legal[edit]

  • Argument Argument In a free society, we have the right to do what we want with our lives as long as we don't hurt others. Suicide can be what a rational adult chooses for himself.
    • Objection Objection Suicide does hurt others—maybe not physically but the emotional and social costs of losing a loved one to suicide are huge.
      • No individual provides informed consent to being born, so no individual is under any obligation to remain alive for the emotional benefit of others.
  • Argument Argument It is impossible to enforce a law against suicide.
    • Objection Objection But it's possible to punish those who attempt suicide and fail.
      • Such punishments probably serve no useful purpose.
  • Argument Argument We do not know what happens after death. It could be better after death for one who engages in suicide. By prohibiting suicide we are imposing implicit theological beliefs on others. Prohibitions on suicide impose the implicit theological belief that death is a worse consequences than life on one who attempts to engage in suicide. This is not morally right. Those willing to engage in suicide also embrace certain implicit theological beliefs.
    • Objection Objection Precisely since we don't know what happens next, we can just wait and see until later—there is no rush to die now, since anyone who would commit suicide will die of some other cause anyway.
      • Forcing adults to wait is dehumanizing and robbing adults of personal responsibility and freedom. We should use persuasion, reason, and kindness to entice adults to remain on Earth, not coercion, force, and confinement.
    • Objection Objection Most arguments against suicide don't have theological assumptions.
      • Arguments against suicide always rely on implicit theological assumptions.
        • Several on this page don't.
  • Argument Argument Coercion, force, and confinement that inevitably is involved with suicide prohibitions have too many negative unintended consequences.
  • Argument Argument Suicide can be seen as a form of succession or migration. Prohibiting suicide is like a nation stating that its citizens cannot leave its borders.
    • Objection Objection Migration is impermanent, suicide is permanent.
      • Adults should have the right to make permanent decisions for themselves. Taking away such choices is patronizing and dehumanizing.
        • Helping adults seek help for a severe mental illness is not patronizing. Suicide is not simply a "decision," it is murder, and while it shouldn't be criminalized like regular murder, it should not be supported or promoted by the law.
          • Whether or not to engage in suicide is ultimately a personal decision. Suicide should not be promoted, however, it should not be prohibited through state sanctioned psychiatric coercion, force, and confinement. Voluntary/consensual psychiatry should remain legal. Nonconsensual psychiatry should be illegal. This thread is deviating from the original argument/reasoning that suicide can be seen as a form of succession or migration.
  • Argument Argument Adults should be able to do what they want with their own body. This includes suicide. Just as birth control is legal (influencing when one procreates), death control should be legal too (influencing when one dies).
    • Objection Objection Comparing the legality of birth control to the legality of suicide is a false analogy, and thus a logical fallacy. Taking birth control does not inherently harm anyone, killing yourself is inherently harmful. The government should not criminalize suicide, but it should not promote it either. Those suffering from suicide ideation should be encouraged- or in extremely severe cases, required- to seek whichever method of help is the most beneficial and comfortable for the individual.
      • How is killing oneself own self is inherently harmful? Suicide may or not be a harmful act. Who is harmed? How are others harmed by suicide? It will still be good if we can reduce suicides to zero; we should just only use persuasion, kindness, and reason to reduce suicides, not psychiatric force, confinement, and coercion. Nonconsensual psychiatry may be traumatizing the individual who experience; it by definition, unwanted intervention.

Suicide should be illegal[edit]

  • Argument Argument Suicide creates an emotional toll beyond simply the person who is suffering from depression, anxiety, or another root cause of suicidal ideation. It can create feelings of survivor's remorse and intense mourning and trauma for those who are close to this individual. Any possible form of discouragement should be seen as a positive step.
    • Objection Objection The right of an adult to end their own life is more important than the feelings of other adults who were not able to use enough persuasion, reason, and kindness to successfully influence other adults to not engage in suicide.
  • Argument Argument Suicide is usually a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Since most suicides are a product of mental illness and mental illnesses can be transitory, treated, or even cured, then we should discourage someone from killing himself as a way of addressing mental illness.
    • Objection Objection Mental illnesses are a social construct and are not real illnesses. They are metaphorical illnesses. The idea of mental illness is often used as a method of labeling and dehumanizing an individual. It is a method of infantilizing and invalidating an adult's decision. There is no objective means of medical diagnosis for any mental illness in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. They are diagnosed using verbal interviews and subjective judgement.
      • To say that mental illness is a social construct and not a medical reality is to ignore and invalidate the entire psychiatric, psychological, and neurological communities.
        • This is an argument from authority. Authorities have been wrong many times in the past. Other arguments are needed.
          • This is an argument from fallacy. Just because you are able to categorize something as a logical fallacy does not mean it is untrue. You have not shown any evidence at all that the psychiatric, psychological, and neurological communities and other scientists who believe, based on the evidence they have seen, that mental illness is a real thing are incorrect. If you want to argue that mental illness does not exist, when that is the scientific consensus, the burden of proof is on you to provide that evidence.
      • Mental illnesses are highly prevalent throughout the world, the most common being depression, but also posttraumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, conduct disorder, bipolar disorder, and drug addiction.
      • Mental illness is not some arbitrary classification decided on by asking someone how they feel on a whim, but rather by observing patterns in mood, behavior, and thought over an extended period of time.
    • Objection Objection Just because something ought to be discouraged does not mean it should be illegal. Many things are illegal and this ends up harming people, for instance laws against drugs end up harming drug addicts by criminalizing their behavior and turning them into convicted felons who get severely punished, rather than treating their disease. If mental illness is truly an illness than it ought to be treated, just like any other illness, and not criminalized. Also, a law against suicide is rather pointless and impossible to enforce, since the only way someone would ever be guilty of committing the crime of suicide is if they end up dead because of it, and it is stupid to waste time prosecuting dead people.

Further readings[edit]

  • Suicide Prohibition: The Shame of Medicine by psychiatrist Thomas Szasz
  • Fatal Freedom: The Ethics and Politics of Suicide by Thomas Szasz
  • The Contribution of Natural Law Theory to Moral and Legal Debate on Suicide, Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia by Craig Paterson

See also[edit]

External links[edit]