Rational Suicide


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A suicide which is regarded as a rational choice in a terminally ill person
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The concept of rational suicide is evasive and controversial.
Exploration opens up helpful reflection on the patient's own values, religious or humanistic, that facilitates pulling back from the brink of suicide and permits fortification of these values for suicide prevention or possibly fully rational suicide. Exploration encourages distancing moments of suicidality to remember moments without psychic pain, which argue for not making irreversible decisions.
Some say right to die, good death, rational suicide, aid in dying, and merciful release are all euphemisms for the possibility of killing or assisting individuals to kill themselves (Salladay, 2004).
Spinoza also rejects the Stoic idea of rational suicide. For, as DeBrabander observes, Spinoza holds that to subordinate life (existence) to death is to show that one has succumbed to external causes (or passive affects) and does not live by freely determining things from oneself alone.
The religious right always has maintained that everybody accelerating their end must be out of their minds, that rational suicide does not exist.
Over the last several years, advocacy for what is sometimes called "rational suicide" has been growing increasingly mainstream, discussed among the bioethical and academic elite in mental health publications, academic symposia, and books.
A pro-euthanasia group in the state of Washington wants to expand its mission to include not only terminally ill but also incurably ill patients, and the Hemlock Society has sought to legalize assisted suicide for people with "incurable conditions." Ponnuru speculates this might "include people with arthritis." Rational suicide, one of the key concepts of new bioethics, counsels mental health workers "not to fight" all of their patients' suicidal impulses.
Based on Plato's most direct statement on the subject in the Laws, Marzen, et al., allow, as do Duncan and Lubin, that Plato viewed some acts of suicide as free of culpability, namely, those which resulted from "passion, compulsion, or madness." In contrast, Marzen, et al., argue, '"When suicide is a rational and deliberate choice," Plato deemed it to be "a flagrant act of contempt for the state and an abandonment of duty to society and the divine order." (59) What Duncan and Lubin really want to argue, therefore, is that Plato did not approve of rational suicide, not that he rejected suicide altogether.
As a side note, the American Psychological Association Office on AIDS has been discussing the issue of "rational suicide" since 1994 and has a standardized continuing education workshop on ethical issues associated with counseling persons with HIV, which includes a discussion of hastened death.
Third, it considers the concept of rational suicide and applies it toward construction of standards for permitting suicide.
Rational suicide reconsidered: AIDS as an impetus for change.