Morality of Suicide and Euthanasia

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Suicide is when someone willingly ends their own life. Euthanasia is when a physician assists in ending a person’s life. Reasons for suicide include Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), bullying, mental illness, and substance abuse (alcohol, drugs, etc.). The reason for euthanasia is usually terminal illnesses or old age. The morality of dying in either of these ways is a heavily discussed topic. Some people who discuss the morality of suicide and euthanasia are John Hardwig, Richard Brandt, Carl B. Becker, and Kathrine young. In addition to these people, there are also groups of people such as the Samurai and Pure Land Buddhist that also discuss the morality of suicide and euthanasia.

John Hardwig talks about how we have a duty to die and that we should die well all of which is part of the quality of life. He states that euthanasia can be part of dying well and therefore is also part of the quality of life. In addition to this Hardwig also discusses how relying on technology to extend your life is not part of dying well. Hardwig also doesn’t think that it is unrealistic for elderly people and people who are terminally ill to consider euthanasia. He feels that it is selfish to try and stay alive when it’s not a life worth living. Willingly choosing to die in old age helps to lift the burden of ongoing care from loved ones. There are also financial and psychological costs associated with caring for the elderly and terminally ill people that can become too much for loved ones to bear. Hardwig also takes into consideration some possible objections such as how God forbids killing yourself, that ending your life goes against human dignity, and that death could bear a greater burden than illness. Overall, John Hardwig argues that voluntarily ending your life is better than any pleasure found in living miserably. So, therefore, he states that willingly choosing to die is more meaningful.

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Richard Brandt argues that not all suicides are morally wrong but that it may be intrinsically wrong. However, there are times that it needs to be acceptable to commit suicide. When looking at the morality of someone committing suicide, we need to look at the reasoning behind the decision to end your life. There are two perspectives on suicide: One perspective argues that no matter what the situation is, suicide is wrong; The second perspective argues that there are some situations in which suicide is right which is what Brandt argues for. Brandt also considers other arguments such as Augustine’s theological argument and Aquinas’s natural argument. He also states that when we examine what the confines of this subject are suicide can be considered rational. For example, according to Brandt, suicide can be considered rational when distortion of thought or perception is avoided. These distortions of thought and perception are often caused by depression.

Carl B. Becker argues from the Buddhist ethical perspective which states that life doesn’t end at death but that it is instead a transition from this world to a different world. Therefore, from this perspective suicide is not the end nor is it an escape from anything but rather a transition to another world. Also, Japanese Buddhist view suicide as heroic and therefore not morally wrong. While on the other hand, Katherine Young argues from traditional Hindu ethical perspective which leans towards favoring a long life that is only acceptably shortened by a natural death.

The samurai argue that suicide is honorable as they often commit suicide to avoid dying while in the hands of others and or to avoid extensive and unnecessary suffering. This approach to suicide comes from the basic idea of being pure and simple, unconditionally serving a master, while also taking on full responsibility for fulfilling one’s duty. Though on the other hand Pure Land Buddhist aren’t concerned about the morality of suicide but rather the readiness of an individual to reach Pure Land. This Pure Land is the Buddhist equivalent of paradise.

Suicidal thoughts and suicide are a legitimate issue that people struggle with and almost everyone’s life has been impacted by suicide in one way or another whether its friends, family, or your own personal struggle with it. Therefore, suicide needs to be dealt with carefully because if we’re too hard against it we could end up making it even more difficult for people who struggle with it to deal with it. However, if we’re too relaxed or accepting of it there could be an increase in suicides which could possibly lead to the slippery slope effect. Overall, the morality of suicide is a hard thing to determine and really can vary from one individual to another individual.

I personally don’t feel like somebody should end their life just because they feel done with living but that instead there should be a sound logical reason for such an extreme decision. For example, if someone who is elderly or terminally ill chooses euthanasia than that could be an acceptable decision and way to end your life.

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Morality of Suicide and Euthanasia. (2022, July 08). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 22, 2024, from
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