Suicide Illegal ?

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Should suicide be illegal ?


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  • #26
Kerrie
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Moonbear said:
Also, when someone attempts suicide, they aren't thrown in jail for it, but they can be forcibly admitted into a hospital or mental health facility to receive the treatment they need.
This is where the law should be involved if there is going to be any intervention at all. Punishing someone who needs medical treatment (mental illness does need medical treatment) doesn't make the problem go away. Perhaps the term "illegal" implies that one is a criminal automatically if they pursue the act. If the laws were written so that one is to receive automatic medical help and be exempt from criminal prosecution if caught in their own attempted suicide, then it might be feasible to make suicide an "illegal" act.
 
  • #27
arildno
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Decisions affecting an individual which may run counter an individual's expressed will are not, in themselves (i.e in all cases) wrongs done to these persons.

Two major groups of individuals in our society which routinely experience these type of actions towards them (more often than other groups, that is): Criminals and those deemed "mentally incompetent".

In the second group, we have, for example senile oldsters, mentally disturbed individuals, mentally handicapped persons and children (the last group is considered to be "mentally immature" rather than "incompetent").
What is crucial about the members of the second group, is that we endeavour (ideally that is) to ensure:
1) that they have the same level of protection than those who are "mentally competent" (i.e, "us")
2) that a sufficient level of opportunities exist for them to pursue goals of life&liberty and happiness on their own.
That they are deemed mentally incompetent/immature basically means that we think that on occasion, their own decisions will have an unacceptably unfortunate impact on 1) and/or 2), (primarily for themselves).

This group is totally different from individuals who have provably shown themselves to inflict an unacceptable amount of harm upon others (i.e, criminals), and we should not start blurring the lines between these groups. It is certainly true that there will exist a subgroup among criminals who may well be called "mentally incompetent" from some reason or other; however, our primary concern towards members of this subgroup remains the same as towards criminals in general: Namely to protect ourselves from them.
(This is equally true for the cases of a cold-blooded gangster and a raving lunatic who cannot be regarded rational enough to bear any responsibility for his harmful actions).


To place suicidals in the group among criminals is simply wrong; it is no crime to be senile or be a child, or even schizophrenic, nor is it wrong to be so desperately unhappy that you attempt to kill yourself.
 
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  • #28
honestrosewater
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arildno said:
2) that a sufficient level of opportunities exist for them to pursue goals of life&liberty and happiness on their own.
I searched Norway's Constitution and didn't find that familiar phrase. Is it somewhere else, or have you read the Declaration of Independence? Just curious because I haven't read any other country's founding documents. But I think I will start now. :)
 
  • #29
arildno
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No, it is not in Norway's constitution, nor did I imply that (with "our" I did not mean Norway in particular, I meant more along the line of "Western" culture).
Yes, I stole the phrase from the Americans because I think it is a great phrase.

Now, be certain that also in the US and other Western countries, it is not in general considered wrong to take decisions "over the head" of a senile octogenarian.

I chose not to argue for or justify such decisions; I was merely interested in noting that such actions do, in fact happen, and they are, in general, regarded as justifiable, and that, in essence, it revolves about the issue of a person's perceived "mental competence".
Thus I was trying to determine the proper context in which the question of the il/legality of suicide ought to be placed; that is, what are the attitudes towards related concerns/situations.

That is, I was trying to describe a class of situations where we ought to follow similar guide-lines, irrespective of which particular guide-line we'll end up regarding as the correct one.

Having a (validated/acceptable) distinction between the two groups can justify different ways of implementing actions the affected individual disagrees with personally.
 
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  • #30
honestrosewater
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arildno said:
No, it is not in Norway's constitution, nor did I imply that (with "our" I did not mean Norway in particular, I meant more along the line of "Western" culture).
Right, that's what I thought- it just sounded like something that might be in a constitution or such and you live in Norway, so... at least I learned some things about Norway.
 
  • #31
loseyourname
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arildno said:
Sure it's sadistic to keep open the opportunity to jail someone who tried (and failed) to kill himself, and that's precisely the type of opportunity which illegality of suicide opens up for. It is irrelevant whether jailing actually happens or not, one should not go about branding deeply unhappy people who have screwed up for themselves as criminals.

As for mental competence issues, that is a completely different way of looking at the problem than the punishment idea inherent in concepts of illegality.
Attempting, but failing to commit suicide is not illegal as far as I know. Punishment doesn't seem the idea as you cannot punish a dead person. The only real 'punishment' is that life insurance policies will not pay out, so the family may be punished. Even though that is unfortunate, I can understand why insurance companies would have such a policy.

My ex-wife attempted suicide several times, and what happens if you are caught is that you are committed to a psychiatric ward until a doctor concludes that you are no longer a danger to yourself. After that, you may be forced to undergo therapy. There is no jailing. I cannot myself understand why suicide is illegal. The only decent argument anyone has presented here is that it helps to insure that all cases of death are properly investigated as crimes. Other than that, I cannot see any reason.
 
  • #32
arildno
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loseyourname said:
Attempting, but failing to commit suicide is not illegal as far as I know. Punishment doesn't seem the idea as you cannot punish a dead person. The only real 'punishment' is that life insurance policies will not pay out, so the family may be punished. Even though that is unfortunate, I can understand why insurance companies would have such a policy.

.
As long as we accept, in principle, the legality of private insurance companies as such, there aren't any valid arguments, IMO, for denying them to set up clauses like that.
 
  • #33
Again, at least as far as California is concerned, I have no idea where the notion that suicide is illegal comes from.
If you attempt suicide you are considered 5150...
http://www.fresnohumanservices.org/ManagedCare/ConsumerAccess/5150FAQ.htm
Here is the definition of 5150 and what happens if you are considered such.
I'd imagine that most other states and countries probably have a similar policy.
 
  • #34
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It would appear that we may all be wrong, as Ape says. Apparenly England and France used to have stringent suicide laws that would include foreiture of estate and public humiliation of a person's corpse, but there has never been a US law against suicide. There are six states that have a law against attempted suicide (the Dakotas, Washington, Nevada, Oklahoma, and New Jersey), but the law doesn't seem to ever be enforced. In fact, I know someone who attempted suicide in New Jersey, and she was simply assigned a psychiatrist and a licensed counselor.

I found this information in a Q&A column. Perhaps later I will look for a more official source.
 
  • #35
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can someone help me? maybe pm me, i know someone that honestly wants to kill herself... what should i do??
 
  • #37
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Grogs said:
@brewnog: I think the reason life insurance companies don't pay for suicide is they would feel like they had a hand in it. If a person was having severe financial problems and knew he could get $500,000 for his family by committing suicide, he would be more likely to try it.
Yeah. That's why they don't pay for suicide. They don't want to feel guilty.
it has absolutely nothing to do with losing 500,000 dollars afterwards.
 

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