The Death of Me

The question has sometimes been asked, if life is your highest value and indeed the standard of value, is suicide ever justified? And following from that, should suicide and/or euthanasia be legal?

Your life is your fundamental value and in a real sense, all you have. There are circumstances where ending your own life can be justified. But you owe it to yourself to be very sure that life has no more values to offer you – nearly always untrue.

Life can be hard, life can be depressing, or you might just be depressed for no obvious reason. But the question you always need to ask yourself is: am I giving up without a fight? Are there no values left for me to pursue, that are worth fighting for? One thing that is really immoral, is to give up values without a fight, when the fight might have won them.

If you die, the irreplaceable, never-to-be-repeated value of your life is gone forever. It is rare to be in such a state that that’s a “viable” option. Especially, it is rationality that is the highest virtue: and feelings are not valid tools of cognition. Feeling depressed can and often does pass – and if you need professional help to do that, then I recommend cognitive psychology.

But of course it has happened that choosing death can be a rational choice (e.g. if you are suffering a terminal illness and all that is left to you is a few months of pain-filled half-life). Then nobody has the right to stand in your way, least of all busy-body religious “moralists” who would prefer you suffer any amount of pain rather than offend their personal morality. Therefore, euthanasia as well as suicide should be legal.

Of course your right to life is your right to life. While there can be no crime in suicide or attempted suicide (as long as due care is taken not to harm others in the process – you have no right to impose your misery on them), euthanasia is not always so clear cut as direct “permission” might not be possible. Obviously it is the task of an objective legal system to determine under what conditions euthanasia is allowed where the “recipient” is not in full (or any) possession of their faculties of decision.

© 2010 Robin Craig