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Analysis of The Arguments for and Against Assisted Suicide

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Humans naturally seek escape from suffering, understanding this escape is necessary to understanding the human experience. Different people look to different methods of escape, whether through drugs, religion, sex, or anything else that makes one feel “good”; when none of these escapes help, many people decide to end their lives. Suicide is a very stigmatized word, one that reaches beyond the individual act and envelopes the social impact and relationships of those affected. Minimizing trauma in suicide is a necessary step towards having a functional society which can deal with and overcome any issue, the best way for this to be done is with voluntary euthanasia. Modern technology allows us to provide a painless, self-inflicted death which causes no physical harm to others and can be discussed with family beforehand, minimizing the major side effects of suicide. Rational adults who desire choice over their death should be able to legally choose to use any death assisting machine.

The word ‘euthanasia’ comes from the Greek ‘eu’ meaning goodly or well and ‘thanatos’ meaning death. Besides euthanasia meaning a good death, it also means a welcome way to depart quietly and well from life. The meaning of euthanasia today is more commonly known when a doctor induces death with a lethal injection to a patient who is suffering in order to alleviate the pain. Unfortunately, euthanasia carries a negative connotation and is the same as murder, but it is known better as the act of putting someone to death painlessly, or allowing a person suffering from an incurable and painful disease or condition to die by withholding extreme medical measures.

“My aim in helping the patient was not to cause death. My aim was to end suffering. It’s got to be decriminalized.” – Jack Kevorkian

Jack Kevorkian, a pathologist from America also known as “Dr. Death”, was a major advocate for a terminal patient to have the right to a physician-assisted suicide. He claimed to have assisted at least 130 patients in taking their final action. Kevorkian assisted only by attaching the euthanasia device that he had devised and constructed to the patient. But in 1999, Kevorkian was arrested and tried for his direct role in a case of voluntary euthanasia. He was convicted of second-degree murder and served 8 years of a 10-to-25-year prison sentence. Removing the physician in physician-assisted suicide is the key to allow patients ability to control how and when they die without other repercussions.

Using euthanasia as a base point, the term “assisted suicide” has been used for when people actively decide to end their lives. Assisted suicide refers to the act of aiding or assisting in the ending of someone’s life. In this sense, it could be a sort of euthanasia for the persons who choose to do so but are not terminally ill. Many people who do not have medical reason to end their life but many still want to which is where the original loophole of rational suicides come to play. The meaning of rational suicide is the unassisted but well considered death of a mentally competent adult who may or may not be suffering from a serious medical illness.

In order for individuals to make choices such as voluntary euthanasia, autonomy is always considered. Autonomy is the idea that every person is in control of their own thoughts and actions and can be motivated by ‘internal’ forces like choice and reflection. Ethically, autonomy aims to protect individual choice, rights, and freedoms against the control of organizations, the state or other people. Autonomy lets individuals be their own rulers. The importance of having proper respect for autonomy is vital for individuals to self-determine the aspects of their life. For difficult choices, people must have all the information they can before making a decision and that is why having proper informed consent is necessary. Informed consent means you can’t do something to someone unless they give you permission and they can’t give you valid permission unless they know and understand everything that you are going to do – including all the possible consequences. To give competent, terminally ill or not, adults the right to determine key factors of their life is to give them the autonomy to end their life on a good note.

Beneficence is action that is done for the benefit of others that also minimizes the harm. Euthanasia can be inherently good or right if it leads overall to more good consequences than bad, with maximization of good consequences and minimization of bad consequences. Preparing your family for when you die makes the dying process much more controlled, which allows for the maximum amount of good to come from it. People in more elderly communities have started seeing this as quite a logical and practical approach. When an unexpected death of a family member occurs, the mourning family has so much to deal with such as planning a funeral, emptying the deceased’s house, or dealing with financial matters. Already knowing the events as they occur, can relax and avoid or shorten a time of hardship.

The possible benefits that by allowing rational adults to plan and determine the details for the end of their life are crucial for our society to move forward in thinking and past the horrific methods used for suicides now. Rope is usually always available and death by hanging is not only extremely painful for the individual but also traumatic for the person who finds them. With machines being invented to provide a painless and peaceful death, the population will hopefully utilize the machines rather than continuing the long line of self-shootings, hangings, cutting wrists open or any other suicide method. Providing more accurate and effective methods will hopefully diminish the need for the vast number of ways to commit horrific suicide.

The basic rights for functioning humans are not just to remain alive, but to enable them to do what they want in life, and thus disposing of them if we so choose. If one had a right to live, then one must have the right to die, both on their terms. Death is a natural and inevitable process of life so there should not be any laws to prevent it. Terminally ill patients should have the right to assisted suicide because it is the best means for them to end the pain caused by an illness which no drug can cure. But this should not be exclusive to the terminally ill. A rational person should also have the option of assisted suicide if it is in the best interest of that person. If someone or some group disagrees with voluntary euthanasia, don’t use it, but no one should deny the right to an individual who decides to use it for a peaceful death. Denying a person’s choice to end their life in a dignified manner is also denying them their dying wish.

The legalities of assisted suicide and euthanasia vary across different countries but are illegal in the majority of markets. The countries that have legalized assisted suicide are the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Switzerland and only certain states within the United States. Each country usually requires very strict conditions to be met and assisting in the death of another person, even with their consent, is a very arguable area of the law. The most important part of the law is the guarantee that doctors performing active euthanasia or assisting an individual to commit suicide will not be liable to prosecution. The principle of Justice should make it so that existing laws are fair to all involved and to not conflict with human rights and needs.

The first doctor in the world to administer a legal lethal voluntary injection was Philip Nitschke in 1996. He is a physician and author who is known primarily for his influence in the worldwide euthanasia debate and has researched euthanasia & voluntary assisted death. Nitschke founded Exit international, an Australian nonprofit that advocates for the legalization of euthanasia, in 1997 to represent the person’s right to determine the time and manner of their death. The companies aim is to provide the best information for rational adults who want to plan and control when and how they will die. Nitschke has aided in hundreds of rational suicides and has published, in 2006, the Peaceful Pill Handbook, which instructs on the most painless and efficient ways to commit suicide. His latest invention is a machine called the Sarco which requires no assistance to operate and provides the user with a peaceful and euphoric death.

The Sarco consists of a detachable coffin mounted on a stand containing a liquid nitrogen canister, which is perfectly legal to buy. It was co-designed by Philip Nitschke and Dutch engineer Alex Bannink to fulfill the enquiry for death to be much more than just dignified. The Sarco is a 3D-printable machine that provides death by hypoxia, an environment with low levels of oxygen. A Sarco death is painless and there is no suffocation or choking sensation as the user can breathe easily in a low-oxygen environment. The sensation is one of well-being and intoxication. In order to operate it, the user must fill out an online test of mental fitness, and if they pass, they receive an access code that is only available for 24 hours. After the code is entered and an additional confirmation is given before the Sarco capsule will start to fill up with liquid nitrogen to bring the oxygen level down to about 5 percent. Within one minute, the user passes out and death comes peacefully a few minutes later.

Many other devices were made to help shift the action of assisted suicide directly to the individuals. Jack Kevorkian designed and constructed a device called the ‘Thanatron’ or Death machine which delivered the euthanizing drugs intravenously and also utilized a gas mask filled by a carbon monoxide canister called the ‘Mercitron’ or Mercy machine. Philip Nitschke also designed a computer run program that is referred to as the deliverance machine that would administer the euthanizing drugs once the individual has started it manually. There even is a hypothetical Euthanasia Coaster, designed by Julijonas Urbonas, that would expose the rider to enough force around the loops to cause your brain to die from oxygen deprivation.

With the increasing amount of methods and resources for assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia that are being made available, the risk of having young, vulnerable, distressed, or mentally ill communities use the sources to commit suicide could also increase. Many safeguards are put in place to prevent abuse and misuse of these practices but there is no way to completely remove the risk. There have been a couple cases where younger and highly troubled adults lied about their age to access forums or hand guides that were intentionally limited to older communities and used them to commit suicide. More and more mental help programs and suicide prevention groups have been created and definitely make differences in people’s lives.

The major stance against euthanasia stems from several religions. All generally claiming that human life is sacred, and humans should not interfere with God’s plan for them. Some religions absolutely forbid euthanasia and suicide. The Roman Catholic church, for example, is one of the most active organizations in opposition to euthanasia. Christians believe it is wrong to disrupt the spirit as it moves towards God during the process of dying. The only solution the opposing religions have stated is that protection and special care for the vulnerable person during their end of life care is better and won’t violate the special value God has given humans. The sovereignty of God should not be the determining factor when a person is having to live every day with a painful illness and not have anyway to be at peace. There will clearly always be conflicts regarding euthanasia, but church and state should be kept separate to allow everyone to practice life and death the way they believe is right.

Any person’s individual freedom should also give them freedom to make the choice to end their life. As a community, it is our ethical responsibility to ensure that those dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts are provided for in a safe and efficient way while also providing the end of life options to the rational minded. Currently these machines have only been used on terminally ill patients, but they provide graceful forms for end of life care, one which preserves dignity and ends suffering. Modern methods of painless, self-administered suicide should be available to everyone who can pass a rationality test as a basic human right.

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Analysis Of The Arguments For And Against Assisted Suicide. (2021, March 18). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/analysis-of-the-arguments-for-and-against-assisted-suicide/
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