Should Assisted Suicide Be Legalized? Essay, Research Paper
Should assisted suicide be legalized?
As the society has been developed, the needs of its people’s freedom and right have also increase. People even touch the domain of death which many other are scare of. The question about legalizing assisted suicide is one the most argumentative topic. Lots of people support the legalization of assisted suicide, but many of them have wrong assumptions about suicide.
Many people argue that the decision to kill oneself is a personal choice in which society has no right to interfere. This position assumes that suicide people making autonomous, rational decisions to die, and then claims that society has no right interfering the freely chosen life or death decision that harms no one other than the suicidal individual. However, according to experts who have studied suicide, the basic assumption is wrong.
A careful British study found that 93 % of those being studied who committed suicide were mentally ill at the time. A similar St. Louis study found a mental disorder in 94 % of those who committed suicide. These are the evidence that show those who attempt to commit suicide are normally ambivalent. They attempted suicide for reasons other than a settled desire to die, and most of them were the victims of mental disorder.
Still, shouldn’t it be the person’s own choice? Many people may question about that. Almost all of those who attempt suicide do so as a subconscious cry for help, not after a carefully calculated judgment that death would be better than life.
As a matter of fact, committing suicide does powerfully call attention to one’s plight. The humane response is to mobilize psychiatric and social service resources to address the problems that led to the would-be suicide to such extremity. Typically, this counseling and assistance is successful. One study of 886 people who were rescued from attempted suicides found that five years later only 3.84 % had gone on to kill themselves.
As for a Swedish study, it found only 10.9 % later killed themselves. Paradoxically, the prospects for a happy life are often greater for those who attempted suicide were being stopped and helped, than for those with similar problems who never attempt in committing suicide. In the words of academic psychiatrist Dr. Erwin Stengel, “The suicidal attempt is a highly effective though hazardous way of influencing others and its effects are as a rule lasting. In short, suicidal people should be helped with their problems, not helped to die.
Shouldn’t we distinguish between those who are emotionally unbalanced and those who are making a rational, competent decision? This question may be answered by Psychologist Joseph Richman who has interviewed or treated over 800 suicidal persons and their families. He has been impressed that those who are suicidal are more like each other than different. All suicides, including the “rational” one, can be an avoidance of or substitute for dealing with basic life-and-death issues. The suicidal person and significant others usually do not know the reasons for the decision to commit suicide, but they tend to give themselves reasons. That is why rational suicide is more often rationalized, based upon reasons that are unknown, unconscious, and as part of social and family system dynamics. The proponents of rational suicide are often guilty of tunnel vision, defined as the absence of perceived alternatives to suicides.
Many people support assisted suicide because they thought those patients who are terminally ill should have right to end their own lives rather than suffering from endless painfulness. However, contrary to the assumptions of many people in the public, a scientific study of people with terminal illness published in The American Journal of Psychiatry found that fewer than one in four expressed a wish to die, and all of those who did had clinically diagnosable depression.
As Richman points out, Effective psychotherapeutic treatment is possible with the terminally ill ones, and only irrational prejudices prevent the greater resort to such measures. And suicidologist Dr. David C. Clark observes that depressive episodes in the seriously ill are not less responsive to medication than depression in others. Indeed, the suicide rate in persons with terminal illness is only between 2 % and 4 %. Compassionate counseling and assistance, such as that provided in many hospices, together with medical and psychological care, it could help reducing the number of patient who tent to suicide.
In conclusion, society has a moral duty in protecting and to preserving all lives. To allow people to assist others in destroying their lives violates a fundamental duty of respecting human life. A society committed to preserving and protecting life should not commission people to destroy it. Furthermore, if law allowed assisted suicide, it could pose a threat to the lives of innocent people who don’t want to be assisted to death. Therefore, assisted suicide shouldn’t be legalized under any circumstance.