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Suicide (a Legislative Issue)


Although all individual living things will eventually die, some will normally live longer than others. For instance, some insects may only live for a single day, while some trees may live for thousands of years. Of course, in nature, the length of an individual’s life is not as important as the survival of the species. The key to the continuation of life lies in the ability of each species to reproduce and to help its next generation to live long enough to reproduce. In this respect, the life of any individual is only important for its ability to reproduce or to help the next generation to survive.

Of course, in order for an individual living thing to contribute in some way to the next generation, it must live long enough to be able to and to have a chance to do so. Therefore, most living things will instinctively and stubbornly cling to life. Even so, many living things will not live long enough to die of old age. Instead, they will mostly die from decease, be killed, die in accidents, or sacrifice their lives for others.


For the most part, the forces of nature determine when we will die, and we have very little say in the matter. Exceptions may be when we give our life trying to help others of our species and when we commit suicide. The most common example of these exceptions is self-sacrifice where we risk our lives to save others. We and many other animals have evolved with the capacity for self-sacrifice because it can be highly beneficial to the survival of other members of our families and our species. The families and species benefit because one individual’s sacrifice can improve the chances for, or has ensured, their survival.

The best and probably the most easily recognized examples of self-sacrifice are when mothers and fathers give their lives to save their children and when soldiers give their lives to save fellow soldiers and to protect their country. Individuals also sacrifice their lives for things other than to save someone from imminent danger. Some individuals, when they become a burden or are no longer able to contribute to their family or group, will wander off somewhere and die. In some cultures, a person is even expected to commit suicide to protect or to restore the honor of his or her family.

Some individuals also sacrifice their lives for a cause. For instance, some individuals have starved themselves, set themselves on fire or blown themselves up to protest one thing or another. We may not always believe in their cause or think it was worth their dying for, but they must have believed it was worth the sacrifice. We all want to feel that we have contributed to our family or to society. In some cases, individuals feel that their death is the best contribution that they can make. A person’s family and friends may not understand and may not want to let him or her go, but if they truly care about this person, then they must respect the right of this person to make his or her contribution through sacrifice.

Right to Life

For the most part, we should all agree that all creatures have a right to life. Unfortunately, we seem to be far less concerned with the lives of other living things than with the lives of other humans. Of course, life implies eventual death, but we humans do not seem to accept death very well. We go to great lengths to save and to prolong our own and other people’s lives. We do this even in cases when someone wants to die, so it seems that we do not generally believe that a person has the right to die.

For most living things, death is just perceived as a fact of life, but for us, death can evoke strong emotions. Most of us and some animals will mourn the death of a family member or a friend. For many of us, there can be such a sense of loss that we simply do not know how we could possibly go on with our own lives. Although most of us may never completely get over a loss, we will eventually be able to move on with our lives. On the other hand, some of us get so depressed over the loss of a loved one that we will literally die of a broken heart or even commit suicide, which seems ironic given our apparent strong will to live.

Modern Medicine

Today, thanks to modern medicines and medical procedures, many of us can live healthier and longer lives than our ancestors. Modern drugs and surgical procedures help prevent many of the deaths and alleviate many of the pains that our ancestors would have had to suffer. On the other hand, our modern life exposes us to greater pollution, to the dangers of technology, and to more age-related problems. Modern medicine has had to make great advances to keep up with these new threats to our health and life.

It often seems that modern medicine is placing more of an emphasis on keeping us alive longer than on making our existing lives better. The longer we live, the more our bodies wear out and break down, but modern medicine has the drugs and surgical procedures to keep us alive. This means that many of us may be spending more of our later lives feeble, in pain and under medical care. Not only can we look forward to more suffering, but also to going broke while paying for all the drugs and surgical procedures. I believe that the medical profession needs to spend more time improving the quality of our lives than extending the length of our lives.

After suffering some great trauma, a person may be in great pain, be trapped in a useless body, have lapsed into a coma or be in a vegetative state. In many cases, modern medicine provides the means for keeping this person, or at least his or her body, alive for a long period of time. Maybe, we are hoping that we can keep them alive long enough for some new medical procedure or drug to come along that will save this person. In the meantime, they must suffer.

When someone is in pain or has little if any chance of waking up, how long should we keep them alive and how much of our valuable medical care should we spend? Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath, where, among other things, they pledge to do no harm. But what is better for the patients, forcing them to stay alive and to live in great pain while incurring growing medical expenses, or to let them die and move on to the next life? Just because we can keep someone alive does not mean we should. In fact, when we euthanize sick animals, we say that it is the humane thing to do.

For instance, let’s think about how we treat our soldiers. When soldiers give their life in defense of our country, we honor their memory. We will mourn their loss and wish there had been another way, but we do agree that it was their right to die defending us. If these same soldiers survive into old age and are suffering from debilitating or painful illnesses, we expect them to go on living for as long as possible. When all that someone has left to look forward to is a slow painful death, why do we insist that he or she must stay alive? The answer may be that we cannot bear to let them go, but we all die, so why not respect a person’s right to decide when the time is right.

Life After Death

Most religions talk about, and many of us believe that there is life after death. This next life may be in heaven, in hell or back on Earth through reincarnation. The idea seems to be that you are rewarded or punished for your actions on Earth. Therefore, you should live a good life, doing good deeds and making life better for those around you. Then, in the next life, you will be rewarded with a better existence.

Interestingly, there is nothing that states how much good one must do to be rewarded. Is one good deed enough or does one need to do hundreds or thousands of good deeds? Do some good deeds count more than others? What if we die young, before we have a chance to prove ourselves one way or the other?

According to must religions, how we die also seems to be important. If it was out of our control, then how we lived our life would determine our fate. If we die while trying to save others, then we will be rewarded for our sacrifice. On the other hand, if we commit suicide, which is usually considered bad, then we will be punished. Of course, if a suicide is committed for a worthy cause, then many of us believe that we should be rewarded.

If we believe in life after death, then it would only seem logical that we would want to prepare ourselves in this life to be ready for the next life. For instance, some of us may have a list of things that we want to accomplish, or we may simply want to do as much as we can for as long as we can. The idea would be that the things we do and what happens to us in our current physical state will strengthen or weaken our soul or whatever part of us that will continue to the next life. Our hope would be that we continue to strengthen our soul up until the very end, so that we have the best chance of entering and prospering in our next lives.

Instead of us passing on when our bodies give out, modern medicine lets doctors pump us full of drugs, patch us up with transplanted or artificial parts, or put us on life support. Sometimes we recover and continue to live good lives for many more years. In other cases, we just hang on while our bodies continue to deteriorate. When our lives just become a struggle to stay alive or to endure the pain, what happens to our souls? It is quite possible that our souls will weaken, and we will have lessened our chances for a better life after death.

Of course, we are the only ones who can truly know when we are ready to go. Have we accomplished enough? Have we prepared ourselves for what comes next? Are we capable of doing more? Will staying longer help or hurt ourselves and others?

Right to Die

Self-sacrifice is part of our very nature, so we honor the sacrifice of those who died risking their lives to save the lives of others. Many of us even respect those individuals who sacrifice their lives for some worthy cause. We may morn their loss, but we respect their right to die for the greater good. In many cases, no matter how much we believe that their deaths will benefit those around them, we do not recognize the sacrifice in their desire to die. In these cases, we deny them their right to die.

When we deny others their right to die, they often still end up committing suicide. They blow their brains out, jump off buildings or bridges, or slam their cars into telephone poles. Since they must break the law, they usually do it without saying goodbye to their loved ones or putting their affairs in order. In addition, they end up destroying property and creating quite a mess, which must be cleaned up by us.

In a free society, we have the right to live our lives according to our beliefs. It would also seem logical that we should have the right to decide when it is time to die. If we give ourselves the right to die with the proper controls and procedures, then we will make life easier for all of us.

Ending Ones Life

Since some of us are going to commit suicide, it would seem a lot better to have a legal and orderly procedure in place to handle suicide. Therefore, we must change our laws to provide us with a legal option to end our own lives. Whether we want to end our pain and suffering, to stop being a financial burden on our families or we just feel it is time to move on to our next life, we must give ourselves the right to make our own decision to do so or not.

Since death is such a final decision, we will need to put the proper controls in place to make sure that a person is certain about his or her decision to die. When someone is thinking about ending his or her life, a request would need to be submitted to some form of review board. Then, the individual would need to attend some appropriate counseling to ensure that he or she has tried or at least considered all other options before ending his or her life. Of course, an individual should always be given the right to wave counseling, since we really should never force anyone to go.

If an individual decides to continue with his or her plan to die, the review board would ensure that the individual has put his or her affairs in order and then issue a suicide permit. Of course, during and right after this review process, this individual can say goodbye to family and friends. Then, this individual could go to an appropriate medical facility where he or she could be connected to a device that could administer a lethal dose of drugs. Finally, the individual who wants to die would need to push the button.

Cry for Help

When someone wants to commit suicide, they may be feeling depressed or hopeless, and feel that they have nothing left to contribute or that the world would just be better off without them. In some cases, these individuals do not really want to die. They just do not see any alternative. It is in these cases where counseling is meant to help. The idea is that with suicide being legal, more individuals will go through the process and end up getting help. With the right counseling, many of these individuals will find a reason to live.

Living Wills

In those cases where we are unable to talk or otherwise to communicate with medical personnel, it would be helpful if we had living wills, where we could have expressed our wishes concerning treatment options, and life or death. One thing that could help would be to have health insurance companies add living wills to their policy options. In this way, there would be no question about how far doctors should go toward keeping us alive.

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Last Updated:
Tuesday, December 26, 2023
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