Assisted suicide was a topic that raised a wide ranging set of opinions in our group discussions. Many in the group thought it was a sick concept and condemned those who utilized the option of assisted suicide. I had very mixed thoughts and opinions. I cannot say I would condemn anybody for taking the route of assisted suicide, but I definitely would not promote it or do it myself. I believe that my life was given to me by God. I feel that respecting and honoring the life that I have been given is really important. I know life gets hard and things do not always go how I want them to. Sometimes we are bogged down by illness or severe injury. My faith in God is strong, and I believe that what happens is His will. My high school community went through a rough time in my junior year of high school after several students had lost their parents in a short period of time. A saying that brought comfort to many people was “God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers.” I think of this saying when the topic of assisted suicide is brought up. I believe that everything happens for a reason. If illness or injury fell upon me, it may be tough to recognize, understand, and accept why this is happening to me, but I know that I have to keep in mind that I would grow out of the suffering. I would not actively end my suffering. With all of this being said, I would not have a problem refusing treatment if I was put in a circumstance in which my quality of life would greatly deteriorate after my revival or recovery.
Here is how I rationalize these thoughts: If I am battling to stay alive with the potential of recovery, once I was a “survivor” I would be able to use my experience to motivate and inspire others. If I am going to be “alive but not living” after my treatment, I would not necessarily have the capacity to have a productive life in any sense. I would be taking up the time of my family members and drawing out their emotional pain. I would not want my life to be sustained by a machine if there was no chance of me ever truly living without that machine again. I would rather be taken off of any life supporting machines and drugs rather than to drag out my pitiful life.
When it comes to the legality of assisted suicide (from an American standpoint), I would say that no state should be forced to legalize assisted suicide. While assisted suicide is finalized by the patient, there could still be law suits and legal issues brought forth by the families of the victim. Even if the patient is said to be of sound mind, it could be argued that the doctor who declared the patient to be of sound mind could have made that declaration with his business in mind. The victim is the doctor’s customer, and a doctor who is promoting death might not really be able to make a clear judgement on who is sound of mind. That is just one of many arguments that families of those who received assistance in taking his or her own life could use to pursue either a civil or criminal legal case.
The Suicide Plan
The Suicide Plan video was quite disturbing to me and several of my classmates. Even though assisted suicide is illegal in many of the states in which the Suicide Plan business operates out of, the company has found loopholes to beat the illegality. The company tells its victims…I mean customers…exactly what they need, where to buy it, and how to use the materials to kill themselves. They collect statements and records to prove that the customers in the proper state of mind to choose to die. Oddly enough, the customer does not even need to be terminally ill to use this company’s services.
The Suicide Plan company is masked behind a party planning company and has the customers use party supplies to kill themselves. When a customer comes to the planners, they evaluate him, collect the “proper” documentation, send him on his way with a list of “party supplies” to get from Party City, give him the instructions to kill himself, then rearrange and clean up after he has killed himself. The entire process seems really fishy. If it is legal, then why must the planners come in and clean up the [crime] scene?
From an ethical viewpoint, I can hardly argue that any of this is okay. The planners are essentially promoting suicide. While I would argue that suicide is not necessarily morally wrong, I would definitely never encourage or help somebody set up his or her own suicide. I am very uncomfortable with this entire idea of an under-the-table, non-medical assisted suicide company. I do not understand how any person of sound mind could be involved in something like this.
Assisted suicide is a topic with tons of blurry lines and “what ifs” but there are some aspects of it that I simply cannot side with. Confucians keep a tradition of filial piety which affects their view on assisted suicide which would fall under the umbrella of suicide. This means that they have a duty to their family. The mother and father give a child life so it is that child’s duty to grow up, reproduce, and then take care of his or her parents once they reach the point where they can no longer take care of themselves.
While I see the importance of respecting your parents and all elders, I feel that if you want to end your life, the decision is between you and your Creator. I would not let my parents have the final say in the situation if I was considering assisted suicide, but I also do not believe they gave me the gift of life: I simply see them as vessels that brought me physically to this world by the grace of God. Those who practice Confucianism seem to think otherwise. In families that keep the traditions of Confucius, the parents are superior to their children because they are the ones that gave them life. It makes sense as to why the opinion of the parents and elders is taken so seriously when they are seen as the “creators” but I just cannot get on board with the idea of letting my parents decide my fate after I have reached adulthood.
The Buddhist view is one that I would be more likely to get behind. The Buddhists believe in quality over quantity when it comes to life. Although, I do not completely agree with this, I can understand this view better than that of Confucianism. In class, we discussed the difference between being alive and truly living. To be breathing and have your heart beating is to be alive, but to be hooked up to a machine and stuck in bed is not really living. I would not want to be alive if I was not truly living, but I am not sure if I would simply ask for the “plug” to be pulled or if I would take the pills to make sooner the end of my life. Most of me thinks that it would be a sensible to take the pills, but there is still the part of me that is guided by my morals rooted in my religious faith.
In class, we discussed the legal status of assisted suicide in Japan in relation to Buddhism. Suicide is legal but assisted suicide is not. This seemed a little strange to me at first but I have made some sense of it. With suicide, the decision to end your life is COMPLETELY yours. The one committing suicide is acting of his or her own free will. Assisted suicide sort of implicates murder. It would be much easier for me to make the decision to kill myself if somebody else was telling me to go for it and basically handing me the materials to do it. I would argue that the assistant has blood on his hands.
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As always, these are my opinions and reflections on this specific topic. I have linked the sources to provide information that can be used to further your knowledge on the specific topics that you may be interested in. Always feel free to call me out or question me on any of my opinions here.