Should suicide be legal?

Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Following the debate about euthanasia, should suicide be legal as well? Do we own our own lives so completely that we have a right to end them? Or do we owe certain obligations to our communities and thus we should stay alive even when we may want to die?

Suicide should be legalEdit

Arguments forEdit

  •   Argument for In a free society, people should have the right to do what they want with their lives as long as they don't hurt others. Suicide can be what a rational adult chooses for him/herself. No State should not have title over one's life. Taking away such choices is patronizing and dehumanizing.
    •   Objection Suicide does hurt others. Maybe not physically, but the emotional and social costs of losing a loved one to suicide are huge.
      •   Objection While that is partially true, on a moral level, we should not be prioritizing more the wellbeing of the relatives of a potential suicide over the potential suicide itself, because no individual provides informed consent to being born, so no individual is under any obligation to remain alive for the emotional benefit of others.
      •   Objection Many other life events cause emotional harm but are not illegal. For example, a son cutting off all contact with their parents for life (this can be as traumatizing as death). Or, negligent parenting leading to children developing psychological issues like extreme attention seeking behavior (which can lead to school shootings) are not illegal either.
      •   Objection Even if a person dies naturally, it will still cause emotional harm to others. The cause of death might be a secondary issue.
    •   Objection Helping adults seek help for a severe mental illness is not patronizing. Suicide is not simply a "decision", it is murder. And while it should not be criminalized like regular murder, it should not be supported or promoted by the law.
      •   Objection Suicide is a decision, and not murder. Murder is the killing of another person from a person
      •   Objection Helping adults who need help is not patronizing. It is the forcing of "help" which dehumanizes; forced psychiatric "help" is not help when an adult is actively declining such services. Might such "help" be what psychiatrist Dr. Thomas Szasz refereed to as cruel compassion in his book "Cruel Compassion"?
      •   Objection Whether or not to engage in suicide is ultimately a personal decision. Suicide should not be promoted, however, it should not be prohibited through state sanctioned psychiatric coercion, force, and confinement. Voluntary/consensual psychiatry should remain legal. Nonconsensual psychiatry should be illegal.
  •   Argument for It is technically impossible to enforce a law against suicide, so as suicide is virtually legal, it should be also legally legal.
    •   Objection But it is possible to punish those who attempt suicide and fail.
      •   Objection Punishing someone who attempted suicide and failed would the most cruel and Sadistic act a government could perform, they already don't want to live because of the horrible conditions of their lives and you want them to be FORCED to continue living in even worse conditions? That would only prove their decision to commit suicide to be justified.
      •   Objection Forcing someone to live an unwished life is equivalent to torture, so punishment to failure suicide is unhuman, beside useless.
  •   Argument for We do not know what happens after death. It could be better after death for one who commits suicide. By prohibiting suicide we are imposing implicit theological (and Judeo-Christian) beliefs on others. Prohibitions on suicide impose the implicit theological belief that death is a worse consequences than life, and this imposition is morally incorrect.
    •   Objection The ambiguity of what happens after suicide is not a sound argument for why suicide should be legal.
    •   Objection Precisely since we don't know what happens next, we can just wait and see until later—there is no rush to die now, since anyone who would commit suicide will die of some other cause anyway.
      •   Objection Forcing adults to wait is dehumanizing and robbing them of personal responsibility and freedom. We should use persuasion and kindness to entice adults to remain alive, not coercion.
      •   Objection "Just wait" is not feasible for someone suffering from mental anguish or any other sickness making life unbearable.
  •   Argument for Suicide can be seen as a form of migration. Prohibiting suicide is like a nation stating that its citizens cannot leave its borders.
    •   Objection Suicide and migration are totally different concepts. For example, migration is impermanent and reversible, while suicide is permanent.
      •   Objection If I make an active choice of leaving the country I was born in settle abroad without the intentions of coming back. The foreign state is ok to take me in, can my country of origin stop me from doing so or would it be morally correct?
  •   Argument for Sick people —especially mentally ill ones— have no right to force their illness on someone else by having children. Those opposed to suicide need to support eugenics at a minimum.
    •   Objection This argument assumes that mentally ill people has only two options (both implies dying): commits suicide, or must be eugenized. Still, this argument should go to another debate, not in this one about suicide. I have created that new debate at Should mentally ill people be allowed to have children?
  •   Argument for Suicides can help to solve overcrowding problems. One suicide is one less person who will not have children.
    •   Objection Overcrowding is not created by an increase in population, thus, would not be solved by suicide. Overcrowding is a result of increasing population density due to perception of efficiency and preference. It can be solved through technological and educational advancement. Earth is huge.
      •   Objection Just because overcrowding isn't caused by a lack of suicide doesn't mean it couldn't be alleviated by suicides. This only makes logical sense. Another example of this logic: depression in many cases isn't caused by a serotonin deficiency, but medications that increase serotonin do alleviate depression. 
      •   Objection Earth is not huge, land is very limited in fact. True, increase in population is also due to longer lifespans, but especially people in the third world continue to have lots of children of which more and more immigrate into Western first world nations, artificially increasing the otherwise naturally decreasing populations.
        •   Objection The third world growing population is not because they commit suicide to little, but because of the historical socioeconomic backwardness (most of which is due to western countries).
  •   Argument for If a person commits suicide because he/she is depressed, he/she will not negatively influence other people any more.
    •   Objection This argument is insensitive to people suffering from mental illnesses like depression. A person suffering from depression already deals with a lot of guilt. Such statements can inhibit any recovery they have a chance at making. No one wants to "negatively influence" or hurt anyone else. It is not valid to support the suicide of someone suffering from depression just so that there might be lesser "negative influence" to deal with. In fact, we should learn to support others better, whether it is in their right to continue living, or not. But not to burden or force them with either decision.
    •   Objection This argument is insensitive to people suffering from mental illnesses like depression. A person suffering from depression already deals with a lot of guilt. Such statements can inhibit any recovery they have a chance at making. No one wants to "negatively influence" or hurt anyone else. It is not valid to support the suicide of someone suffering from depression just so that there might be lesser "negative influence" to deal with. In fact, we should learn to support others better, whether it is in their right to continue living, or not. But not to burden or force them with either decision.
  •   Argument for In addition to the fact that suicide should be legal, places where one can be euthanized should be legal and available too. First, this stops a lot of trauma of those 'victims' that find their loved ones whom have committed suicide. Second, it stops botched attempts which add even more trauma to the true individual.

Arguments againstEdit

  •   Argument against Suicide creates an emotional toll beyond simply the person who is suffering the cause of suicidal ideation. It can create feelings of survivor's remorse and intense mourning and trauma for those who are close to this individual. Any possible form of discouragement should be seen as a positive step.
    •   Objection Emotional toll is not a logical criterion for the illegality of suicide because the origin of one's own emotion is entirely caused by and within the self, through the perceptions and relationships one has of and with self, logic and reality.
    •   Objection Although the emotional toll to others exists, the right of an adult to end their own life is more important than the feelings of other adults who were not able to persuade other adults to not engage in suicide.
  •   Argument against Suicide is usually a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Since most suicides are a product of mental illness and mental illnesses can be transitory, treated, or even cured, then we should discourage people from killing themselves as a way of addressing mental illness.
    •   Objection Mental illnesses are a social construct and are not real illnesses, they are "metaphorical" illnesses. The idea of mental illness is often used as a method of labeling, infantilizing and invalidating an adult's decision. There is no objective means of medical diagnosis for any mental illness in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. They are diagnosed using verbal interviews and subjective judgement.
      •   Objection Many mental illnesses are caused by aberrant pathology that can be detected.
      •   Objection To say that mental illness is a social construct and not a medical reality is to ignore and invalidate the entire psychiatric, psychological, and neurological communities. Ass for many other illnesses, mental illness is not some arbitrary classification decided on by asking someone how they feel on a whim, but rather by observing patterns in mood, behavior, and thought over an extended period of time.
        •   Objection This is an argument from authority. Authorities have been wrong many times in the past. Other arguments are needed.
          •   Objection This is an argument from fallacy. Just because this argument is able to categorize something as a logical fallacy does not mean it is untrue. It was not shown any evidence at all that the psychiatric and other mental scientists who believe, based on the evidence they have seen, that mental illness is an objective thing are incorrect.
            •   Objection There is no consensus on the diagnostic labelling of psychology. Many in the scientific community view the term "mental illness" as an inappropriate metaphor for what they believe to be emotional or societal problems, and not legitimate illnesses.
      •   Objection Mental illnesses are real, objective, and highly prevalent throughout the world. The most common is depression, but also posttraumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, conduct disorder, bipolar disorder, and drug addiction.
    •   Objection Just because something ought to be discouraged does not mean it should be illegal. Many things are illegal and this ends up harming people, for instance laws against drugs end up harming drug addicts by criminalizing and punishing them, rather than treating their disease. If mental illness is truly an illness than it ought to be treated, just like any other illness, and not criminalized through illegality.
    •   Objection Suicide is not only a permanent solution to a temporary problem, it's a permanent solution to all problems, forever.
      •   Objection This statement minimizes the pain of one who is suicidal, it shows the lack of understanding of the pain a suicidal person is enduring and increases their isolation. It legitimizes suicide as an option to permanently end one's pain. It can cause more harm than good to say this to a suicidal person.
        •   Objection To assume how a person would feel after being told suicide is a viable option is irrational, because all people are different, and perceive the world and it's contents in different ways.
  •   Argument against If a person is in debt, the act of committing suicide would lead to unpaid debts, this would ultimately hurt someone else financially.[1]
    •   Objection The creditor could also be hurt financially by the debtor dying prematurely or otherwise being rendered incapable of paying their debt. That is a risk that the creditor takes on when lending them funds in the first place. And, mitigating those risks is the specific role of insurance companies.

Further readingsEdit

  • Szasz, Thomas. Suicide Prohibition: The Shame of Medicine. 
  • Szasz, Thomas. Fatal Freedom: The Ethics and Politics of Suicide. 
  • Paterson, Craig. The Contribution of Natural Law Theory to Moral and Legal Debate on Suicide, Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia. 

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit


  1. "Please Stop Saying, 'Suicide is a permanent solution...'". Suicide Prevention News and Comment. 2010-03-05. Retrieved 2020-09-09.