assisted suicide

assisted suicide Essay Examples

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Published: Friday 25th of January 2013

Assisted Suicide Essay Example


The permission of euthanasia and assisted suicide is among the most contentious public and legal issues faced by the modern society. (Gorsuch, 599) The whole world including religious leaders, lawyers worldwide, physicians and the general public have debates on the issue of assisted suicide.

What Does Assisted Suicide Mean?

“The practice of aiding someone in taking their life is what assisting suicide means while the practice of killing someone motivated by mercy or compassionate feelings is what euthanasia means.” (Gorsuch, 599) “Assisted suicide is about a person who is not forced to kill themselves but expects to die and has suicidal motives hence takes actions to cause his or her death. However, unlike the definition of suicide where one takes away their own life, an assisted suicide requires aid from someone else, for example, a friend, a physician or a relative. There are some numerous methods that an enabler can aid the suicidal person. Such ways may involve; helping in the act of killing itself (examples being; pulling the trigger of a gun, closing the garage doors for them, turning on the gas or assisting the person to administer pills), doing the purchasing of the weapon that they will use, supplying them with effective methods that they can use to commit the suicide, encouraging them along the way to perform the lethal deed or in other instances providing them with a lethal poison or a dose of pills. Did you know that assisted suicide is illegal? Unlike suicide, this act is considered illegal and punishable by law in many jurisdictions either by short term imprisonment or by paying fines”. (Donnelly, 251)

Legalization of Assisted Living

Both in Britain and the United States, from the 1930s, there was an active discussion of positive euthanasia. Switzerland legalized assisted suicide in 1937. The stipulation stated that “the person who is assisting has no gain or motive from the action.” (Smith, 31) The Netherlands decriminalized assisted suicide much later in the year 1993 but only as voluntary euthanasia (Aided by a physician) for those patients who were terminally ill. It was subsequently made legal in 2002. Aside from these two European countries, Belgium is another country that legalized assisted living in the year 2002 but for specific patients. The term “assisted suicide” is connected to Dr. Jack Kevorkian from his famous debatable case. He was known to publicly champion the rights of the terminally ill patient to die. His infamous trial that got televised in the 1990s made an outcry of emotions amongst the public. He assisted people who wished to commit suicide to die. It was here that the story became the object of the United States law which forbids assisted suicide. “Smith, 31) In this essay, I would like to show some criticism against assisted suicide and euthanasia and also express my position on the issue.

Assisted Suicide Arguments

I am for physician-assisted suicide precisely euthanasia. This is because only a small group of terminally ill patients need it. There is no cure for them, and they face uncontrollably awful pain. In such a case, you will be showing mercy to them for their suffering when you use assisted suicide. From a religious viewpoint, it is, of course, a controversial issue. But it is the same church that encourages us to be kind to our neighbors and perform charitable acts. Therefore, maybe euthanasia should be viewed as an act of charity.
The number of patients that need a physician-assisted suicide has decreased as a new leading trend owing to the development of pain management that is of new quality. Such groups of patients who are “psychiatric, those with nonterminal diseases or patients who are terminally ill but are not in pain” (Gorsuch, 599) in my opinion should not have the opportunity to use physician-assisted suicide.

Assisted Suicide Criticism

The debate over assisted suicide continually goes on since many people are strictly against any chances of it for various reasons. The most controversial issues being the guidelines which the physicians use to assist the patients. “The relationship between any person who is suicidal and those who aid him would never be same again due to the sanction and availability of physician-assisted suicide. The reactions of both friends and family to the suicidal person would change as well as the nature of any psychotherapy that he may seek.” (Guglielmo, 45) We should not forget to mention that there has been an enormous breakthrough in the pain treatment areas and other symptoms which are distressing of injuries and illnesses as a contra-argument of assisted suicide. (Smith, 31) There has been a public opinion that there are high chances of people avoiding dying in agony in today’s era, it is just that some of the medical professionals do not do a good enough job of it. The unfortunate part is there has been insufficient education about medical opportunities that the patients and their families may be provided with. I would like to bring in another aspect to demonstrate the contra-argument of assisted suicide. There has been a perception that assisted suicide translates to showing compassion to the terminally ill patient but what about prospects, the quality of life, etc.? There have been some researchers who persist that assisted suicide is not the solution and should therefore not pay attention to this issue. We should instead focus on “suicide prevention and improve their care to help the suicidal ill and those who are disabled to overcome the constant desire to take away their lives.” (Gorsuch, 599) Life can be great but scary at the same time. A primary principle of life is that people should strive to stay alive always and in any given circumstance even though it is a scary thing. The value of human life cannot be measured. There are groups and organizations like the hospice organization or members of religious orders whose mission is to provide care and love to those people who exist only physically. Ethics of suicide prevention is frequent these days and should be a subject for discussion. Bystanders have a moral obligation of preventing a suicidal person from realizing their planned intentions as a general opinion of the public because there are more than enough reasons to help prevent suicide. From this point of view, how should the society perceive a doctor who assists suicide? “The coercive suicide prevention can be categorized into three groups; ethical arguments, psychology and epistemological.” (Donelly, 196) These are the arguments which justify suicide prevention. There is as well a very controversial issue of legal dilemma liability to a person found aiding in assisting suicide. “Any physician who helps with the act of self-killing runs a high risk of a mild legal penalty, but other jurisdictions face no legal penalty. But in the case of a physician who complies with the request of a patient and kills them, even if the act was a show of mercy, runs a high risk of facing prosecution for manslaughter or murder”. All this is according to Novak.


From the above, we can tell that assisted suicide remains a hotly debatable society issue. The great divide is on whether it should be legal or not. I think that the favor should fall on who benefits the most from this; Is it the society or the persons that face these suicidal thoughts?