The Right To Kill Oneself

Yes and No ideas

Are you a victim of suicide or a free agent choosing heroic death?

"The Gaul and his wife" - Anon (1 BC)

The Gaul and his Wife

No one can stop you from trying to kill yourself!

Everyone has the choice. The controversy about the right to select suicide boils down to a question about your role. Are you a victim with impaired choice or a free agent searching for a rational end?

All of us want to die appropriately. Usually this is as late as our bodies allow. Some circumstances seem to justify a search for an early death. These are usually personal distress, public shame, significant loss (of money, status or a dear one), bad health, etc. There is no end to the list, because everyone assigns different values to different losses. These are simply illustrations. People in this situation are tempted to try a suicidal mode of self injury behavior to hasten the moment of death.

This rational position gets complicated by several dimensions of the individual's character or life style.

  1. We all have a wish to die heroically, and suicide seems to promise such an appropriate death. Unfortunately, it yields pain, suffering, guilt, shame and stigma to the survivors and to the one who seeks a self caused death.
  2. Pain and distress are always personal; felt by the individual, but made better or worse by past coping styles.
  3. The decision to kill oneself usually ignores the effects on others who are dearly loved; including parents, children, lovers, and pets, to name a few.
  4. The wish to die is always in conflict with the wish to live. This means that impairments of judgment and action can occur after the decision to kill oneself, by whatever method. The best example is the person pointing a gun to the head, firing and missing.
  5. The wish to live seems to endure while the wish to die is always temporary. It may recurr, but always goes away, least for a while. In between the potential victim enjoys life within the limits of a personal existence and health.

There are many other reasons which make the rational choice problematic. I would suggest that to die rationally one needs to do preparations as follows:

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