Witnessing Suicide - Legal Question

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by mirror, Jun 2, 2001.

  1. Riomacleod Registered Senior Member

    So its not possible that decisions can be clouded by pain?

    It's not possible to argue something unless you've experienced it?

    Could it be that we don't have time to spend with the ailing loved one? Or that we won't make time? Wouldn't it be better to come to them in their last hour and ease their pain with love? Granted suicide is certainly easier, but I will not help my loved ones end their lives, and I hope that when the time comes, my loved ones care for me instead of simply finishing me off.

    This isn't meant as a personal attack, but I'm starting to be bothered by how nearly half of my moral debates end.. someone standing up and yelling "You've never been there, you don't know." Ok, I'm not a woman, so I have no right to discuss abortion and "reproductive freedom". I'm not a minority, so I can't discuss the pros and cons of affirmative action. I've never killed anyone, so I can't decide really if murder is ok or not.

    Moral philosophy has some real problems if that's how we're going to do things from now on.
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  3. Counterbalance Registered Senior Member


    Riomacleod, I can understand (pretty well) where you're coming from. I've felt/thought that way before. But on this topic I can also speak from personal experience. What's that old saying: "Until you've walked a mile in another man's moccasins..."

    Once we've actually gone through something this difficult, it does affect us, and in ways we cannot anticipate until we do go through it. How much it affects us will vary, of course. This can be said of many types of experiences.

    I see no harm in you offering your opinion on the subject, but because I know how deeply personal it can be for those who are ill, and for those who have ill loved ones, I tend to respect their viewpoints, and especially if these viewpoints are "colored" by pain or fear. That much pain, that much fear... who am I to tell others how they should handle their last days? They are not me and their tolerance of anything may not be the same. They are dying. Nothing is the same for them any longer. Their reality IS different. It's simply not a topic that everyone thinks is debatable.

    What I have discovered is that... What I want for others, or what I think best, (and even if some should happen to agree I'm right), will have to be measured against the ordeal being experienced by the person who is ill. I don't think I have the right to insist that someone else prolong their suffering...just in case they are wrong...by someone else's standards. Right and wrong are highly subjective concepts.

    Mine is not a personal attack either. Just another view.


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  5. Troutski Registered Member

    Of course it is. I believe the position of most people is to allow the family and the physician to make the decision. This is one of the issues with assisted suicide. When the pain becomes untreatable and it clouds judgment, interfers significantly with who a person is, makes their life a life of agony, perhaps it is time to let go.
    I believe I said that it is only possible to argue in the abstract, not that you can't argue. In fact, I believe I also said that it is a safe and comfortable position from which to base an argument. I know because I was once there.
    Again, an abstract arguement, and perhaps unfair except on a case by case basis. Personally I had a bed brought into her hospital room so I could be there at all times.

    I understand where you are coming from, and I am not attacking you, just trying to explain what happened with me. I used to sound just like you.
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  7. Riomacleod Registered Senior Member

    Obviously, this is a difficult topic to discuss/debate.

    I speak from experience too-more or less. My grandmother has/had a rather advanced case of breast cancer, as well as bone cancer on her spine, and some lung cancer. She had a pretty damn slim chance of survival, because she didn't do anything about it until it had spread like it did. Chemo was very rough on her, and she was in alot of pain. But instead of letting her commit suicide, my family did everything we could to prevent it. We went into her house and took all the ammuntion from her guns in the basement, got any medicines that she didn't use anymore, and all the alcohol in the house... we spend time with her every day, and for the last few months now she's back to living a (relatively) normal life.

    Of course, had we let her kill herself, she'd never have the chance to see a great-grandchild or see me get my PhD.
  8. Counterbalance Registered Senior Member


    Riomacleod, perhaps your family made a wise decision. Who of us can say? We are not familiar with your grandmother. We don't know what or how she really feels.

    For some people, however, the prospect of seeing a new grand-child or of celebrating with a relative/friend the achievement of a PhD. is not enough to make them want to endure a few more days, weeks, or months of an unendingly painful "life." For some people, nothing is worth that.

    I may or may not agree with them, depending on the circumstances, or even perhaps on the amount of my own emotional involvement with them. But I cannot insist that someone suffer. And even less so when it truly appears that there will be no miracles.

    If there IS a clearly reasonable chance that various treatments or surgeries stand to help someone, but they, perhaps never having been a very rational-minded individual at any time, wanted to end their life without understanding the chances they'd be missing, then yes. I would address the issue, or take whatever steps seemed appropriate.

    Every single case is different. Every life, and every death, is an individual experience. Our choices are based on so many different factors.

    I don't know that this is an area in our lives where any law will ever be adequate to cover fairly, justly.

    If your grandmother is glad to be alive, then I'm very glad for her. It's a victory when someone can truly beat cancer.

    Wish you both the best,

    (and many long years of it!)

  9. machaon Registered Senior Member

    The legality

    If you are in that situation and are worried about the LEGAL implications, then watching a loved one die is the least of your worries. You should be more concerned with identifying what forces could have taken such control of your mind and individuality that you actually took the time to even think about giving a shit about the "legality" of such a situation.
  10. Riomacleod Registered Senior Member

    I dunno, I think he has every right to be concerned. Negligent homocide is a pretty serious offense.
  11. Bells Staff Member

    Tony1... the idea with a terminal illness is just that, its terminal and you can't get rid of it unless you die. You can't will a terminal illness away nor can one take medication to make everything better again. If one could do that, many people close to me would be here with me today.

    Not only must a terminally ill person face the thought that their life is being cut tragically short, but some must also face the knowledge that they can do nothing to make their goodbye to life as they wish. It amazes me how some governments can put someone to death for a crime, but they have issues with a person, who is suffering because of a terminal illness, ending their life with dignity. It is so hypocritical and beyond comprehension that any government can have that level of control on an individual's freedom of movement over their own life.
  12. Teri Curious Registered Senior Member

    This is to Tony1

    Wouldn't it make more sense to get rid of the terminal illness?


    I haven't read all of your posts Tony1, indeed, there may have been more idiotic things posted from you that I missed, however that has to beat the lot!!!!!
  13. Riomacleod Registered Senior Member


    There is no law against taking your own life. Your estate can't be sued, and your assets can't be siezed by government agencies. They won't arrest your corpse. The law is against people "helping" other people to commit suicide. There are several reasons for this, most notably, there is *NO* government which accepts someone's ability to consent to death. One can consent to being hit, pelted with paintballs, or thrown off a cliff with a rubber band on their leg, but a person is incapable of consenting to death. If so many people have "nothing to live for" why do they need help to kill themselves? SOMETHING is stopping them. It's very easy to end one's life. TV gives us millions of examples of ways to do it.

    We have some very romantic ideas on death... no one has control on how they will "Say goodbye to life". It just doesn't happen, Bells. When you are on your own death bed I'll bet that there'll be regrets that you have, that you're not ending life on your own terms.

    I think that Tony1's suggestion is the better choice. If it were possible. We have significantly reduced the number of terminal illnesses that exist in the world today.

    What it boils down to is if you feel that the world has cheated you and feel so completely self-defeated that you need to kill yourself, go right ahead. But do it yourself. If the action is supposed to be such a thumbing one's nose at illness and death, if it is the one last dignity one has, why do people feel they need to have someone else do it for them?
  14. Bells Staff Member


    Thank you for your reply

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    This debate is one where there is no right or wrong answer. The only place where assisted suicide should be allowed is in the case of the person being terminally ill and they have received counselling and such on the matter. It should not be a case of the person feeling down and depressed saying I want to kill myself, hand me the pills. It would have to be the ultimate last resort, where specialists have stated that there is no chance of the person getting better... it would have to be really terminal and not a case where the person has a chance with treatment. The idea of helping a loved one end their own life is one that everyone finds extremelly difficult. However I personally believe that if the loved one has wished it because they are near the end of their life due to a terminal illness, and they are absolutely positive that this is their only way for them to die with some decorum and dignity, I would be there and assist them in helping them to administer the drug. While it would ruin me for life emotionally, if doing this act gave this loved one this final moment of peace in knowing that they were still in control of their own destiny, then I would help them. I guess that I would be considered a murderer in assisting this person to open the pill box or handing them the glass of water, but if I could do anything to help this loved one, then I would. And if the last thing they wished for me to do was that, then I guess I'd do it, regardless of what it would do to me afterwards.

    If there were any other way of saving this person or helping to ease their pain then I'd do it. But having lost both my grandparents to cancer, I know that towards the end the medication that they take does nothing for the pain. If either of my grandparents had wished at the end that they be given a bigger dose of morpheine then I'd have sat with them as it was being administered and I'd have held their hand until they passed on. However my grandparents never expressed a wish to do so and no one in our family suggested or even thought of it and I still sat with them and told them I loved them until the disease took them from me. That is the thing Riomacleod, it is totally up to the person who is terminally ill. It should never be suggested to them at any time. It would be totally up to the dying person to do so. If a person has not wished it and their loved ones say that they wished to administer the sick person with a lethal dose, then I would fight them tooth and nail to stop them. To end ones life is up to the one who wishes to die and no one else.

    I agree with you that Tony1's suggestion would be IDEAL. However while we have prevented and found cure's for many diseases out there, we haven't for all of them. It is easy to wish that we can just wish or get rid of a terminal illness, however that is all it is, a wish. It is not yet a reality.

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