Why should suicide be illegal?

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

There are a number of reasons why someone might argue that suicide should be illegal.  Let us examine a few of them.

First, we can argue that suicide should be illegal because it is immoral.  We can say that suicide is immoral because a person who commits suicide is rejecting the gift of life that God has given us all.  If God has given us life, then it is not for us to reject that life.  We have laws against various other things that we think are immoral (like taking drugs or having sex with animals), so we should have laws against suicide.  Even if the laws do not deter anyone from committing suicide, we are at least making important statements about our society’s values.

Second, we can argue that suicide should be illegal because of the costs that it can impose on other people.  Suicide can harm others in a variety of ways.  For example, if a man goes out in his back yard and shoots himself, he harms the people (police and paramedics, for example) who must respond.  While these people do deal with death on a somewhat regular basis, it is not as if they enjoy seeing things like horrible gunshot wounds.  Suicide also hurts society as we have to pay these people to spend a great deal of time investigating the death and processing the body.  More importantly, suicide harms the people who care about the person who commits suicide.  Loved ones and friends feel saddened and rejected.  Spouses and children can be left to cope (financially and emotionally) with life without their loved one.  We should be able to make actions illegal if they harm other members of society.

Finally, if we allow suicide, it is (arguably) more likely that people will commit suicide.  Many people think that legalizing marijuana will cause more people to use that drug.  If that is the case, then it also makes sense (at least possibly) that legalizing suicide will lead to an increase in suicides.  Conversely, if we passed laws against it, we might reduce the incidence of suicide.

All of these reasons can be given as rationales for banning suicide.

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CaitlynnReeves's profile pic

CaitlynnReeves | Student, Grade 12 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted on

Nothing in life is free, not even dying. When a person dies there are expenses involved: the funeral, the burial, mortician services, etc. Usually, if an individual has life insurance these expenses are at least partly covered. Almost all insurance companies will refuse to cover these expeses if there is reason to suspect it was a suicide. This leaves the family to pay out of pocket on top of dealing with the emotional distress of loosing a loved one.

Suicide harms those who are left behind and that is an injustice. That is why suicide is a crime.

zumba96's profile pic

zumba96 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

Some may think suicide should not be illegal because it is a way to relieve someone of their life but in fact in could hurt themselves and their families. Many times if you look at someone who was saved from dying they always wonder why they did try to kill themselves in the first place. If suicide is illegal perhaps there is a chance people won't attempt it as much thinking they might get saved. Suicide is never the answer

vhk521's profile pic

vhk521 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted on

Banning suicide would be difficult. Although the United States does not have specific laws protecting bodily autonomy, traditionally it has upheld the privacy and control over a person's own body. In cases such as organ donation, even if that organ donation will save someone else's life, no one can force someone to make that donation without their explicit consent, even in death. If we apply this idea of bodily autonomy to the issue of suicide, the government does not have the authority to deem what can or cannot be done to one's own body, even if it harms them.

acompanioninthetardis's profile pic

acompanioninthetardis | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

one can argue that suicide is illegal because

1.  we sometimes have very stressful days and some people cant handle this stress at times and try to give up. It dosent mean the person hates his entire life, it just means that hes going through a rough patch that will almost always soon end

2. alot of criminals use it as an excuse to get away from murder

although enforcing this law is very poor.

thewanderlust878's profile pic

thewanderlust878 | Student, College Freshman | (Level 3) Salutatorian

Posted on

While suicide is a terrible and sad thing, I do not think it will ever be made "illegal", at least in the United States. Much like what rachellopez said, how could an individual possibly enforce such a law? As an individual who has come very close to committing suicide on multiple occasions I believe that making it illegal might actually make people thinking about it want to do it more. Most people who wish to commit suicide don't think what society has to offer them, so by "breaking the law", it might give them one last piece of satisfaction. 

rachellopez's profile pic

rachellopez | Student, Grade 12 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

Suicide should be illegal, but I'm not to sure how you'd enforce that law. We know suicide is a terrible thing and it doesn't just hurt one person, it hurts their family, friends, and peers. Also when suicide occurs it can lead to an increase of this kind of thing happening because of how people are affected emotionally or people who don't even know the person, but see it as an option for them. Suicide should never be an option, but there isn't really a way the government could stop people from doing this. They can only promote suicide awareness to make sure that it occurs as little as possible.

robyn-bird96's profile pic

robyn-bird96 | Student, College Freshman | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted on

Suicide in some countries actually used to be illegal, notably in countries in Europe.  Suicide was seen as "self-murder" and was punishable by law. It was believed to be a mortal sin, because in the Middle Ages, when Christianity (Catholicism) dictated everyone's lives, God created life, so it was wrong to take your own life.  

In Eastern countries, however, suicide is seen as the preferred alternative to bringing about dishonor/shame.

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Wiggin42's profile pic

Wiggin42 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Valedictorian

Posted on

What would that accomplish? A person who has successfully committed suicide is beyond the reach of the law. If we were to punish a person who attempted a suicide but failed, what purpose would that serve? What would the sentence be, capital punishment? Jokes aside, practically speaking, criminalizing suicide is best discussed in the context of assisting someone, egging them on, or encouraging them to commit suicide. That can be likened to being an accomplice in a murder and more tangibly punishable. 

eli468's profile pic

eli468 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

Despite the fact that it would be highly difficult to enforce laws against suicide which is why it is no longer illegal, there could be reasons as to why the government would make suicide illegal.

One large factor is simply cost. It costs around $34 billion a year in medical and work loss costs each year to society due to suicides. Most people don't realize the magnitude of how much money suicide costs. On average, a single suicide costs over a million dollars. With the medical work that must be performed, whether it is examining the body or trying to help family and friends recover through therapy or other means, it can really add up. Medical bills are very expensive. On top of that there is normally an investigation even if it was a definite suicide where a note was written. The government will look through all the victim's belongings, social media, etc. to try and understand why they felt it necessary to end their life. Many grieving friends and family members can't resume work for awhile and the government pays for that time off, usually, resulting in more money spent on the suicide. 

Another reason that the government might want to make suicide illegal is that suicide is like kryptonite to the media. It gives them a lot to report on and it can interfere with investigations. It causes a lot of grief for the friends and family of the victim already, but having the media invading their lives even further won't help with their grieving. It can become a very harmful thing for those who knew the victim. False information can also be spread due to media interference.

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