Dear Anonymous Man,
I was deeply touched by your argument regarding the topic of ending your own life. Being in the healthcare field, I find myself mulling over the topic of ‘quality of life’ quite often. I sympathize for your situation- living far away from your children, having a wife that passed away many years ago, having pain when trying to preform activities of daily living; that must be very hard for you to deal with. My life has been personally affected by the suicide of another person, so I find it shocking that I understand where you’re coming from. Unfortunately, sometimes suicide affects the people that are left behind more than it affects the actual person; when you die, it’s over for you, and it’s your family and friends that have to pick up the pieces you left behind. It seems selfish though, for friends and family to think ‘how could he do this’, when perhaps its what you really wanted. On the other hand, it may also be selfish of you to not think of how their lives might be affected. Food for thought, perhaps.
It’s hard for someone of sound mind and body to talk about the topic of suicide, or argue objectively whether someone has the right to end his or her own life. I think each patient should be looked at case-by-case. One of my main questions is- what is your belief system? I believe that wanting to die so you could meet with you wife is heaven would be received much better than just wanting to die so that your life would be over. Would suicide be the means to an end, or the means to something greater? I feel that it is more justifiable for elders to want to take their own lives to prevent the imminent suffering that will be in the years ahead, being alone, and having your quality of life decline right before your eyes- which can also be hard for the family. When you are younger, in your teenage years or in your twenties, there is so much to look forward to, and dying by choice would prevent the experience of many of the beautiful things life has to offer. In that sense, I do believe that being near the end of one’s life does justify wanting to end it to prevent suffering- regardless of age. If someone is in a terminal situation they should be able to die a peaceful death; if there is a cure, this should not be an option. The ‘right to die’, in my opinion is the ‘right to a peaceful death’ and should only be looked at after all options have been exhausted and a cure is not possible. I feel that people in these situations do have a right to seek assistance in dying, so that they don’t have to go through extreme measures. I know it may seem grim, but as previously stated, I look at the quality of life and I’m a ‘quality of life’ pusher. So I do believe that individuals should have the right to seek assistance in dying. I also believe that there should be a medical order written by a doctor stating that the patient is terminal, and I also believe there should be a psychiatric evaluation performed. Perhaps there should be a panel of doctors deciding whether a patient should be able to take his or her own life. I believe that people should have the right to give assistance in dying. However, I do not believe a first year resident should have the right to decide or give assistance in suicide. I think that there should be a panel of well experienced health care professionals who aid in this decision and weigh all of the options, incase the patient does not look at something clearly.
Summarizing all of my views on assisted suicide, I do believe that some individuals should have the ‘right to die’ and should be assisted by medical professionals. Individuals under the age of 18 should have their parent’s permission. The ‘right to die’ should only be given when there is a clear and unpreventable decline in the quality of life in the near future, and suffering is unavoidable. I also believe that psychiatry services and mental health counseling services need to be in place for a period of time before the final decision is made. Kant, however, would not agree with my statements and views, because he feels that everything is either right or wrong, good or bad. My course of action would be parallel to the hypothetical imperative- making one decision as a means to another decision. So while maybe killing a living being is not moral- preventing the long term suffering would be the moral decision, but we would have had to make an unmoral decision to get there. Kant would stick to the categorical imperative, which would be not to assist or support suicide because it is immoral to take a human life.There are many aspects to consider, dear anonymous man, and I hope my points will ultimately bring you some peace in whatever decision you make.
Not sure where I stand