Unpopular Opinion: Assisted Suicide Should Be Allowed for Any Competent Adult

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This post may contain the most unpopular opinion I will likely ever share on my blog. Let me say first off, as a survivor of my sister’s suicide, I know exactly how much it hurts to lose someone close that way and wouldn’t wish it on anyone. However, maybe it is just the libertarian streak in me, but I do think euthanasia should be legal for adults.

When people normally talk about euthanasia, it is regarding those with terminal illnesses. I definitely support the right to peacefully end your life in your own time with those cases. But I also support the right of any fully grown, mature human being to make the decision to not exist anymore if that is what they truly want. There are places in the world that allow euthanasia for severe mental illness, but I would take it even further than that. I don’t think anyone has the right to force another sentient human being to remain alive if they honestly, genuinely don’t want to be here.

Even with my sister, I would not force her to come back to life if I could. She was absolutely miserable. She was in constant mental, physical, and emotional pain. Her life was a wreck due to the aftereffects of severe abuse and treatment resistant mental illness. She tried multiple times to kill herself, and had she survived the last attempt, I have no doubt she would have kept trying, even though I tried my best to encourage her to find reasons to live.

I don’t think that human beings should have to resort to dangerous, violent and potentially severely disabling attempts to end their lives when there are simple, effective ways to end their suffering permanently if they wish to do so. I have been a witness to seeing two of my cats put down peacefully. I can only hope I die so easily and painlessly.

I also don’t think that assisted suicide would be abused as much as people think it would be. When you realize it is the absolute end, with no chance of survival, many balk if they really do not wish to die. Even in documentaries I have watched about euthanasia for mental illness, many people end up backing out during the waiting process because they obviously are not actually ready to die.  I do think there should be some limits set in place, such as age limits, lengthy screening processes (this is certainly something that shouldn’t be rushed into), and mental competency tests to make sure the person is completely aware of the permanent consequences of what they are asking for. It also shouldn’t be something people can decide for other people. You shouldn’t have the right to euthanize your granny or anyone else against their will.

I share this today because it is my personal belief, not because I am suicidal. I actually am not. I have never attempted suicide and do not believe I would do so unless circumstances became such that living was unbearable. It is not something I would take lightly and if I ever did commit suicide, I would likely plan it out precisely and would take into account any suffering it would cause others and would try to minimize that as much as possible. I certainly hope my life never comes to that point, but if it did, I feel like only I have the right to decide if I want to continue to exist or not.

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7 thoughts on “Unpopular Opinion: Assisted Suicide Should Be Allowed for Any Competent Adult

  1. I’ve thought before about how we euthanize animals but don’t allow the same dignity to humans. I agree with you about adults being able to access medically assisted death. I think if there were certain requirements such as providing informed consent on multiple occasions spaced out over certain periods of time then people should have the right to make their own decisions about whether to carry on living.

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    1. Yes, I do agree safeguards and limits would have to be in place. I also debate about adults who have small dependent children, because their death so severely affects their offspring. It is certainly not an easy subject overall, but I do feel there should be more discussion and consideration about it.

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  2. Maranda, I can barely imagine the pain your sister went through (and you trying to help her), and I respect that your views here are coming from a place of first-hand experience I don’t have. But to me, it’s a basic ethical value that we honor the unconditional worth of each person, fight for their health and well-being (and certainly continued existence!), even when (in fact, *especially* when) they’re in a state of pain, despair, hopelessness, or self-hatred. Are we always the best judges of our own state and current needs? Do we not constantly rely on others to see in us something we ourselves can’t see, to lift us up when we are down, and are we not obliged to do the same for them? Sometimes saying “no” to someone is saying “yes” to what is truest and deepest about them. Now I definitely would say that it’s unacceptable simply to be satisfied with saying this “no” to requests for assisted suicide — no doubt many such requests are only made because of a lack of personal, medical, psychological, palliative, etc. care, and this is an indictment on all of us. But for society to legitimate killing in this way (and by the hands of the medical profession, whose very constitution directs it to heal and never to harm!) would, in my view, violate the most basic sense of solidarity and care that binds us together.

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    1. Sometimes even the best care isn’t enough though. Some chronic pain conditions, depression and other mental illnesses are so severe or resistant to treatment that people choose to die rather than live with it day in and day out. The countries that allow euthanasia for these things do check them out thoroughly, make sure it really is severe and long-term and resistant to all known treatment and they have many meetings with the people prior to it happening in which they actually encourage the person to not go through with it if there is any part of them that is uncertain. I think that is why many back out. The ones who actually do choose to die in my opinion must really have a quality of life not worth living to them. It takes about 2 years to go through the whole process if I remember right from the documentaries I watched. I really don’t see anything wrong with this personally. Yeah, it is sad, but if someone after two years of thinking about it never wavers about wanting to end their suffering, who am I to say no?

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  3. I won’t claim to know the answer to the pains so many endlessly endure for those of us who love them and don’t want to lose them. If only we could make them want and need us as much as we want and need them, then the answer would be easy. However, I believe some pain is too much to endure, no matter how much you want to stay. I think there is a level of pain that removes all mental ability to cope in a sensible manner. I wish nobody ever reached that point, but they do. I am glad I do not have to make the laws for such things. I know the two main reasons this is such an issue is because (according to the Bible), it’s unforgivable to commit suicide and because the rest of us can’t imagine being without our loved ones. We are stingy and don’t want to give them up. Honestly, I wish it were illegal to die.

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    1. It is indeed a very complicated and complex moral quandary. Like you, I am glad I personally don’t make all the laws, that kind of pressure would be crazy-making for me. I’m not religious anymore, so that side of it doesn’t really mean anything to me, but I know it affects many people’s opinions. To me, immense suffering is worse than death.

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