01 Mar Assisted Suicide: Death with Dignity
The right to assisted suicide is an extensive topic that troubles US citizens. The discussions go back and forth about whether a dying patient has the freedom to die with the aid of a physician. Some are against it because of ethical reasons. Others are for it because of their empathy and kindness for the dying. Physicians are also divided on the same subject. They object where they place the line that classifies relief from dying–and killing. For many, the primary interest with supported suicide lies with the ability of the terminally ill. Many terminally sick, in the final stages of their lives have begged doctors to assist them in exercising active euthanasia. It is disheartening to discern that these people are in pain and to them, the only hope of making that agony to a halt is by assisted suicide. However, after analyzing both sides of the issue, a compassionate individual must infer that competent terminal patients should be granted the right to assisted suicide to end their misery, decrease the damaging financial consequences of hospital care on their families, and protect the individual right of people to determine their fate.
Proponents think terminally ill patients should have the right to assisted suicide because it is the best solution for them to end the pain induced by an incurable illness. A competent terminal patient must have the right to assisted suicide because it is in the best interest of the patient. Medical technology today has accomplished remarkable feats in prolonging the longevity of human beings. For those patients who have a genuine chance of surviving an illness or accident, medical technology is science’s most significant contribution to humanity. For the terminally ill, however, it is just a mechanism of prolonging the misery. Medicine is assumed to alleviate the suffering of a patient. For a dying patient, medical technology does not have much to offer apart from adding more pain and agony with each passing day.
Further, a dying person’s physical suffering can be almost unendurable to that person’s direct family. However, successful or not, medicines are expensive. The cost is sometimes way too higher than one’s family can afford. A competent, dying person has some awareness of this, and with every day that he or she is kept alive, the hospital expenses skyrocket. Human life is invaluable, and in the hospital, there are only a few wealthy terminal patients who can bear to prolong what life is left in them. As for the not-so-affluent patients, the cost of their lives is left to their families.
Many argue that a determination to kill oneself is a private choice about which society has no right to be involved. This position implies that suicide results from competent people making autonomous, rational decisions to die. They claim that the community has no business “interfering” with a freely chosen life or death decision that hurts no one other than the suicidal individual. However, according to experts who have studied suicide, the underlying theory is wrong.
A careful 1974 British study, which included extensive interviews and review of medical records, found that 93% of those studied who committed suicide was psychologically ill at the time. A similar St. Louis study published in 1984 indicated a mental disorder in 94% of those who committed suicide. There is an excellent collection of psychological evidence which suggests that those who attempt suicide usually are ambivalent and they commit suicide for reasons other than a settled desire to die. Also, they predominantly have a mental disorder.
The solution of assisted suicide to end someone’s suffering might sound like a humane possibility; however, it raises serious ethical questions about the manner a society is treating it’s ill and diseased. What are your thoughts? Should terminally ill patients be allowed to end their lives via assisted suicide?