Should suicide be legal?

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Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Following the debate about euthanasia, 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 | edit source]

Arguments for[edit | edit source]

  • Argument for 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 Suicide does hurt others—maybe not physically but the emotional and social costs of losing a loved one to suicide are huge.
      • Objection No individual provides informed consent to being born, so no individual is under any obligation to remain alive for the emotional benefit of others.
      • Objection Many other life events cause emotional harm but are not criminalized. For example, a son cutting off all contact with their parents for life (this can be as traumatizing as death), or bad/negligent parenting leading to children developing psychological issues like extreme attention seeking behavior (which can lead to school shootings).
      • Objection Even if a person dies naturally, it will still cause emotional harm to others.
  • Argument for It is impossible to enforce a law against suicide.
    • Objection But it's possible to punish those who attempt suicide and fail.
      • Objection Forcing someone to live an unwished life is equivalent to torture.
      • Objection Such punishments probably serve no useful purpose.
      • Objection Punishment is a dysfunctional concept altogether. With suicide, enforcement is a dysfunctional concept as well. Preventing physical harm and/or death from being perpetrated by any person to any person (including the self to the self) without the perpetrator having just logical reason to is appropriate. It's not a for the courts to prosecute as a matter requiring punitive measures that are practically completely dysfunctional even when punitive measures are appropriate. Is it logical to punish someone who is trying to give themselves the death sentence?
      • Argument for Gandhi would likely have been force-fed in a prison hospital if his culture had the same attitudes toward mortality as ours during his hunger strikes. I suspect that laws against suicide are written more to prevent its use as a political tool than out of concern for our well-being or eternal souls. They can't punish someone who's dead, but they can haul an emaciated activist out of the public eye and put him in a mental hospital. Further, I see no reason why someone should suffer a protracted death while waiting to die in hospice. The state should not have title over one's life.
  • Argument for 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 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.
      • Objection Not feasible for someone suffering from mental anguish or any other sickness making life unbearable.
    • Objection The ambiguity of what happens after suicide isn't a sound argument for why suicide should be legal. If someone has made the sound logical decision that their fear of death is less emotionally painful than their fear of remaining alive with their current perception of reality, making it worse with legal complications doesn't make sense. Unless we are all explicitly required to literally bestow the accountability and authority in our lives for our lives to something external, then it is a decision that one should be allowed to make without requiring justification if it is not going to hurt anyone else against their will. Especially if the strongest reason against allowing it is OUR inability to be emotionally balanced when confronted with the reality that someone else did something they wanted to with themselves. So we literally insist at face value that, at all cost, suicide must be prevented only because of our own inability to process our own emotions about it. We are literally requiring them to remain in agony to support our codependently narcissistic ego while knowing and admitting that there is nothing we can do to help besides falsely imprison, forcibly medicate, and haphazardly attempt to counsel. But we'll feel better about ourselves, like all narcissists, when we try to force our (unwittingly) false perception of reality onto another and literally force them to bend to OUR will. But that requires understanding narcissism, and only painfully few do.
      • Objection 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 Most arguments against suicide don't have theological assumptions.
      • Objection Arguments against suicide always rely on implicit theological assumptions.
        • Objection Several on this page don't.
          • Objection It doesn't change the fact that the majority of arguments are based on theological beliefs.
  • Argument for Coercion, force, and confinement that inevitably is involved with suicide prohibitions have too many negative unintended consequences.
  • Argument for 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 Migration is impermanent, suicide is permanent.
      • Objection Adults should have the right to make permanent decisions for themselves. Taking away such choices is patronizing and dehumanizing.
        • Objection 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.
          • Objection Helping adults who want help or encouraging adults to seek help is not patronizing. It is the forcing of "help" which dehumanizing; forced psychiatric "help" is not help when an adult is actively declining such services. Might such "help" be what psychiatrist Dr. Thomas Szasz refereed to as cruel compassion in his book Cruel Compassion?
          • Objection Sick people —especially mentally ill ones— have no right to force their illness on someone else by having children. Those opposed to suicide need to support eugenics (anti-dysgenics) at a minimum. Cf. Fredrick "hotwheels" Brennan.
          • Objection 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 for 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 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.
      • Objection 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.
  • Argument for Suicides can help to solve overcrowding problems. One suicide is one less person who won't have children. Moreover, in case the person who commits suicide is depressed, he or she will not negatively influence other people.
    • Objection Overcrowding is not created by an increase in population, thus, would not be solved by suicide. Overcrowding is a result of increasing population density due to perception of efficiency and preference. It can be solved through technological advancement. Earth is huge. Depression in one can increase love in another through empathy and compassion. Suicide can negatively influence other people. Whether that is positive or negative is debatable.
      • Objection Earth is not huge, since people live on land, most of earth's surface is water. Further, people mostly live in cities, which increases density. Tokyo is a good example of a city I never would want to live in. True, increase in population is also due to longer lifespans, but especially people in the third world continue to have lots of children of which more and more immigrate into Western first world nations, artificially increasing the otherwise naturally decreasing populations; it also causes a lot of ethnic/religious tensions that otherwise would not exist in the West. My native Germany, which, especially in Western Germany, is way too densly populates.
  • Argument for Not only should suicide be ‘legal’ it should be available to adults. Counseling, therapy, and other forms of help should be encouraged. Only through these safe spaces should they be forced... maybe part of a plan before the procedure. But safe areas where one can be euthanized should be legal and available. First, this stops a lot of trauma of those ‘victims’ that find their loved ones whom have committed suicide. Second, it stops botched attempts which add even more trauma to the true individual. Third, an actual process that isn’t harmful but also creates a timeline with therapy sessions, could actually save a lot of lives. Going through the process before deciding to not go through with it can easily change someone’s entire perception.

People will commit suicide. They should have that right and should be able to do it in a safe area where nobody else gets hurt. Where none of their loved ones will find them. Where they can die peacefully.

Arguments against[edit | edit source]

  • Argument against 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 Emotional toll is not a logical criterion for the illegality of suicide because the origin of one's own emotion is entirely caused by and within the self (through the perceptions and relationships one has of and with self, logic and reality).
    • 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.
    • Objection Reconsider the adjective "more important". Consider that persuasion and kindness without the logic to back it up results in well-intentioned people effectively using the narcissistic abuse cycle to effectively manipulate someone into remaining alive against their will only for the benefit of our own emotions. If you think your emotions are just too difficult to bear when you think of a loved one deciding it's time to die, imagine how emotionally overwhelmed one must be to be suicidal. If you have a level of awareness to where you can use logic to guide a suicidal person to the places in their minds where they will see their own logical fallacies, that is the best therapy money shouldn't have to buy. If the suicidal person is logically ready to commit suicide you won't likely be counseling them. If you are counseling them, it is because they are unsure that they are ready. We, caring compassionate loving others, would be more helpful if we were blatantly honest. If you don't know why they shouldn't, say so. If you can't bear the thought of losing them, say so. Be the open honest example you'd expect them to be if you decided it was necessary to force them to do something against their will.
    • Objection Suicide creates a self-inflicted death. Just as one's emotional tolls are their own to interpret and act upon, one's emotions are not directly caused by anything outside the self, but by observing something which appears to be outside the self and perceiving it to conflict with one's beliefs or expectations. The emotions in the conflicted one stem from the conflicts per se and not the external catalyst which triggered cognitive dissonance. While we undoubtedly rely on others to at least be alive for support, requiring them to be for our own selfish emotional needs is immoral.
  • Argument against 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 themselves as a way of addressing mental illness.
    • 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.
      • Objection 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.
        • Objection This is an argument from authority. Authorities have been wrong many times in the past. Other arguments are needed.
          • Objection 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.
            • Objection There is no consensus on the diagnostic labelling of psychology. Many in the scientific community view the term "mental illness" as an inappropriate metaphor for what they believe to be emotional or societal problems, and not legitimate illnesses.
      • Objection 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.
        • Objection The prevalence of diagnoses is irrelevant, the argument was on the validity of the label.
      • Objection 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 All illnesses fit the criterium of "social construct" and are based on recognition of patterns of chronology, symptoms and behavior. This does not mean they are not real illnesses. Finding the etiology of the symptoms sometimes leads to a pathogen that can then be categorized as a pathogenic disease. Sometimes the etiology isn't completely understood, so it remains a group of symptoms recognized as a syndrome. Sometimes the etiology of the etiology of symptoms (especially with emotional and mental illness) is lack of experience with a genuinely understood healing. When we feel content and happy we don't seek to understand how and why we went from anxious to content or went from content to anxious in the first place. We just "accept" that we feel better for now and "move forward". Then hope we do not fall victim to the allegedly mysterious ways of the emotional midbrain. Believing one understands what they see when one is actually in logical and factual error is diagnostic of a narcissistic belief. When a "professional" is not given the narcissistic supply of "compliance" from a patient who rightfully doubts the false perceptions of the professional, and the professional does not see the error in his own perception, the professional is not immune to the tailspin that is implementing a narcissistic abuse cycle. The patient can end up in seriously deeper mental illness in this way.
    • 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.
    • Objection Suicide is not only a permanent solution to a temporary problem, it's a permanent solution to all problems, forever.
      • Objection This statement minimizes the pain of one who is suicidal, it shows the lack of understanding of the pain a suicidal person is enduring and increases their isolation. It legitimizes suicide as an option to permanently end one's pain. It can cause more harm than good to say this to a suicidal person.
        • Objection To assume how a person would feel after being told suicide is a viable option is irrational. All people are different, and perceive the world and it's contents in different ways. Where one person would see suicide as a poor option for taking care of a "temporary" problem, many people struggle with depression their entire life, and due to financial or personal issues, either simply cannot afford or do not wish to seek medical help. By not providing an open, accessable option for those who suffer from depression forces them to either do it illegally and run the risk of being put in a mental institution, or seek unwanted medical attention with the chance that their illness cannot be permanently treated. Some would rather have a quick, permanent option instead of constant attention, medication, and mental upkeep that a normal person wouldn't undergo, further isolating them from others, as people with depression or similar mental illnesses are already perceiving the world differently and are being treated different from those who were lucky enough to not be born with/develop said illness.
  • Argument against If a person is in debt, the act of committing suicide would lead to unpaid debts, this would ultimately hurt someone else financially.[1]
    • Objection If a person committing suicide is incapable of generating income to pay debt, and living increases cost, then suicide would ultimately help someone else financially.
    • Objection The creditor could also be hurt financially by the debtor dying prematurely or otherwise being rendered incapable of paying their debt. That is a risk that the creditor takes on when lending them funds in the first place.
  • Argument against No it shouldn't. Being honest suicide doesn't hurt anyone physically it's thing that should be followed by a law. It's the person's life and law should not interpret or interfere with someone wanting to relieve themselves of eternal pain and suffering.

Further readings[edit | edit source]

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

See also[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Please Stop Saying, 'Suicide is a permanent solution...'". Suicide Prevention News and Comment. 2010-03-05. Retrieved 2020-09-09.