The subject of assisted suicide is debatable in most nations around the world. Various scholars and medical practitioners offer varying perspectives on whether the act should be legalized. While focusing on the concept of assisted suicide, it is important to differentiate it from euthanasia to avoid confusion. Assisted suicide has various consequences for patients and their families. This paper explores the humanitarian ways availed by assisted suicide in eliminating pain and suffering to patients and their families.
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Assisted suicide, which is often used interchangeably to mean physician-assisted suicide, is one of the dominant alternatives employed to terminate human life (Ersek, 2005). The term entails the act of deliberately assisting another individual to end their lives. A physician, through an intentional provision of information, instigates the suicide or any other necessary means required to implement the suicide act. The assistance offered in assisted suicide includes counseling, prescription, and the supply of lethal drugs. This research paper provides a precise argument, interpretation, and evaluation of how assisted suicide provides a humanitarian way out of suffering for both patients and families.
Many opponents of assisted suicide believe that medical practitioners should not assist patients to die. However, various proponents have shown how assisted suicide amounts to a humanitarian way of reducing suffering to the patients and their families. All patients diagnosed with terminal illnesses go through hard times characterized by great pain and agony. Therefore, such patients do not desire to continue living because that would consequently mean lengthening their torture. Most patients often wish to die quietly without the infliction of expensive and debilitating treatments that would eventually result in unfruitful gains, as their illness is not treatable in the long term (Steck, Egger, Maessen, Reisch, & Zwahlen, 2013).
For most patients suffering from terminal illnesses, the aspiration to commit suicide by their own is prevalent albeit favorable opportunities might not be available due to inadequate physical capability. The family is expected to provide care to the patients. Thus, in cases where the hopes of recovery are diminished, it should be the duty of the family and the physicians to consider assisted suicide (McCormack, Clifford, & Conroy, 2012). By helping the terminally ill to die, it marks the end of their plight by withdrawing pain and curtailing their suffering. Assisted suicide thus provides a humanitarian way of withdrawing pain for the patients and their families.
Assisted suicide upholds the right of a given patient concerning his or her life. Most chronically ill patients deliberately aspire to terminate their lives to relieve themselves from the torture of pain and suffering that they undergo. Morally, “patients have a right to make their decisions to preserve free choice and human dignity, and this right includes the right to choose assisted suicide” (Ersek, 2005, p. 50). Therefore, assisted suicide is permissible when the patient offers the consent expressing the desire to die.
The family members and friends have the obligation to respect the rights of the patient and thus they should not hesitate to initiate assisted suicide. The effect of the assisted death will amount to upholding the patients’ rights by adhering to their deliberate desire while the families’ burden of care and finances is withdrawn. In such a case, mutual benefits are gained when both parties agree on the means to alleviate the suffering of the patient in a humanitarian way (Schoevers, Asmus, & Van Tilburg, 2014).
Assisted suicide offers an alternative for the patients who could have otherwise considered terminating their lives on their own. Assisted suicide is an effective, merciful, and dignified way of ending life because it results in increased peace and joy to the dying and the immediate family members and relatives. As opposed to assisted suicides, many attempted murder cases are painful, disgraceful, and immoral in the face of most societies.
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The available data shows that seventy percent of victims of reported suicide cases have cancer (McCormack et al., 2012). This aspect demonstrates that most victims of chronic illness are prone to committing suicide, and thus assisted suicide is a better alternative to counteract this vice.
Approximately forty percent of the money spent in a lifetime health care is consumed in the last month of life of a terminally ill person (McCormack et al., 2012). Therefore, it is ironic to incur huge financial expenses to elongate the life of a patient while it might be against the patient’s wishes. Some patients long for relief from pain and suffering and the plan to extend their lives of suffering is inappropriate (Schoevers et al., 2014). Physician-assisted suicide provides a lasting solution to both the patient and the family because terminal diseases will ultimately lead to death.
Furthermore, society should come up with ways to reduce pain to the suffering individuals. By relieving others from tortures of pain, the respect for human dignity is upheld. Patients lying helplessly in hospitals afflicted with unbearable pain and tormenting health conditions require urgent rescue. Most terminal diseases leave victims with permanent incapacity to function normally. Under such conditions, it would be inhuman to deny such patients the opportunity to terminate their lives (Van den Branden & Broeckaert, 2011). Therefore, assisted suicide will pave the way through which the compassionate demands of the patient will adhere to promoting a rational way to eliminate suffering.
The dynamic development in the medical field presents better alternatives for saving lives as compared to the past. The developments have incorporated sophisticated means of curing diseases and relieving suffering to patients infected with diseases that were previously considered incurable. However, technology has not been successful in eliminating the pain associated with some terminal illness.
Therefore, patients suffering from painful terminal illnesses will continue to suffer as new medical innovations are sought to alleviate the pain. Spinney (2011) posits, “Patients seek relief from symptoms such as unremitting severe pain, breathing difficulties such as choking and suffocation, and nausea and vomiting” (p. 60). Therefore, to provide a solution to this dilemma, physician-assisted suicide will achieve the desired objective by eliminating pain to both the patients and their families.
The ethical and legal issues surrounding assisted suicide have spurred heated debates in the last decade. The proponents of mercy killing hold that it offers a humanitarian way of ending suffering for both the patients and the family members. Assisted suicide upholds the right of patients concerning their lives, enables the society to take up its responsibility of relieving the suffering, and reduces the anxiety among patients, thus enabling them to live happier lives. Additionally, assisted suicide counters the rampant attempted suicide cases coupled with relieving the family members from incurring the medical expense to elongate the lives of their loved ones even though recovery is not assured. Therefore, to create a humanitarian way of eliminating suffering for both the patients and their families, assisted suicide offers a lasting remedy that restores peace to the involved parties.
Ersek, M. (2005). Assisted suicide: Unraveling a complex issue. Nursing, 35(4), 48-52.
McCormack, R., Clifford, M., & Conroy, M. (2012). Attitudes of UK doctors towards euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide: a systematic literature review. Palliative Medicine, 26(1), 23-33.
Schoevers, A., Asmus, P., & Van Tilburg, W. (2014). Physician-assisted suicide in psychiatry: developments in the Netherlands. Psychiatric Services, 49(11), 1475-80.
Spinney, F. (2011). The Domestic Roots of Perpetual War. Challenge, 54(1), 54-69.
Steck, N., Egger, M., Maessen, M., Reisch, T., & Zwahlen, M. (2013). Euthanasia and assisted suicide in selected European countries and US states: systematic literature review. Medical Care, 51(10), 938-944.
Van den Branden, S., & Broeckaert, B. (2011). Living in the hands of God. English Sunni e-fatwas on (non-) voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide. Medicine, Health Care, and Philosophy, 14(1), 29-41.