Suicide

Suicide is commonly known as the
act of taking one’s own life voluntarily and intentionally. [1]
Suicide has become a social issue because for the past few years suicide has
increased rapidly in teens. For young people of 15- 24 years of age, suicide is
the second leading cause of death. [2]
In addition, social media sometimes glamorizes the idea of suicide. It is a serious
issue today, and is related to mental illnesses such as depression. It is very
rare for there to be only one cause of suicide. Many people who die from
suicide suffer from an untreated mental illness. Another possible cause of suicide
is when one does not fit into society. Common risk factors include major
psychiatric illness – in particular, mood disorders (e.g., depression, bipolar
disorder, schizophrenia), substance abuse (primarily alcohol abuse), family
history of suicide, long term difficulties with relationships with friends and
family, losing hope or the will to live, significant losses in a person’s life,
such as the death of a loved one, loss of an important relationship, loss of
employment or self-esteem and unbearable emotional or physical pain.[3] This essay aims to bring light  the topic of suicide using Immanuel Kant and
Emile Durkheim’s principles in order to suggest multiple ethical solutions to
resolve the social issue.

The
ethical solution to the problem of suicide and euthanasia is that suicidal
people should have free access to therapy before receiving permission for euthanasia,
provide free access to mental health help and educating the public on the
dangers and warning signs of suicidal thoughts and the person wanting to commit
suicide should show visible evidence and signs of wanting to die prior to
proposing euthanasia.

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According to Immanuel Kant an agent who takes his own
life by suicide and by extension assisted suicide acts in violation of the
moral law and is therefore wrong. Kant’s conclusions in forbidding suicide and
euthanasia, is combining respect for people and assuming that, in killing a
person either oneself or another we are thereby undermining personhood.[4]
Immanuel Kant is not for
suicide or against it. Arguments in support of euthanasia say that it allows
people who are terminally ill to be relieved of their pain and suffering. It
also allows a terminally ill person to die in dignity.[5]
Furthermore, they argue that choosing when to die is personal freedom. The
response to people who feel that euthanasia is an abomination of the human
being’s dignity is as follows. He holds that death is natural part of the human
nature and nobody has the right to determine when to die or live not even the
doctor.5 Kant states that euthanasia can be open to abuse by
relatives or friends who have ulterior motives other than wish the person to
get well. Legalization of euthanasia might lead to assaults on individual
autonomy.[6]
This could possibly lead to assaults on individual autonomy because a person
that does not cognitive function may not be able to make their own choices about
death or after death procedures and the body of the person could become used
for experimental or sexual purposes from doctors and necrophiliacs.

 

The first ethical
solution to the issue on suicide and euthanasia is that suicidal
people, their friends and family should have free access to education on mental
health and euthanasia. Using Immanuel Kant’s principle free access to education
on mental health and euthanasia will allow long term understanding for both
parties involved and helping the person feel as if they have autonomy in making
their decision. Also, the family will understand how not to coerce and entirely
understand the decision behind the choice being made. Lastly, it will allow
both parties to find the best ways to cope after the act has been committed.

 

In comparison, philosopher Emile Durkheim principle states that suicide is
a solitary act and causes have significant links to various social factors.
Emile Durkheim did not focus on the personality traits in the person committing
suicide but focused on the amount of suicide’s in a particular area and how
that area’s social beliefs that could impact the idea of suicide. He found that
the social factors that contribute greatly to suicide rates are; cohesiveness,
a person’s standing and religious, social and occupational standings. Durkheim
also stated that although suicide is an individual act it is directly connected
to the social life of the individual. [7]
Emile Durkheim described suicide in the terms of integration; the level in
which a person feels connected to or accepted by a group or society. A person
with high levels of integration feels wanted and accepted by society and has a
low risk of committing suicide. A person with low levels of integration feels
lonely and unwanted and has a high risk of committing suicide.[8]
Durkheim developed a theoretical typology of suicide to explain the differing
effects of social factors and how they might lead to suicide it is composed of Anomic suicide occurs when a person experiences
anomie — a sense of
disconnection from society and a feeling of not belonging that result from
weakened social cohesion, Altruistic
suicide happens when there is excessive regulation of
individuals by social forces, such that a person will be moved to kill
themselves for the benefit of a cause or for society at large, Egoistic suicide
happens when people feel totally detached from society and Fatalistic suicide
occurs under conditions of extreme social regulation that result in oppressive
conditions and a denial of the self and of agency.[9]

 

Based on Durkheim’s principle the ethical
solution would be group therapy and providing increased social assistance such
as grants for volunteer work or recreational community programs. This solution would help Anomic
suicide and Egoistic suicide by providing people with the opportunity to
connect and bond with others that are dealing with the same issue. By allowing
people to relate to each other it will eliminate the feeling of detachment from
society. They will also be given the chance to associate with different social
groups giving them more attachment to society. Also, the solution will help
Altruistic and Fatalistic suicide because social assistance such as volunteer
work or recreational community programs allows people to take time away from
repetitive daily roles and help gain control of one’s individual agency. By
taking part in different roles it will lessen the oppression placed on
individuals by social culture because they are free to explore their inner
self.  

 

A critical rebuttal against these ethical
solutions could be they are costly and time consuming, however the benefits out
way the cost. Immanuel Kant’s ethical solution of free access to education on
mental health and euthanasia and Emile Durkheim’s solution of group therapy and
providing increased social assistance is costly and time consuming yet
effective. These solutions will work as a preventative measure because it will allow
others in the society to become more aware and connected. It will also help
others in society that may be feeling this way and not receiving help eliminate
these feelings. Furthermore, it encourages more social acceptance and social
cohesion.

 

To conclude, suicide is the act of taking one’s own life voluntarily
and intentionally.1 Immanuel Kant’s principle states that euthanasia
will provide suicidal people, or people that are terminally ill to die with
dignity and have freedom over their autonomy. Emile Durkheim’s principle states that suicide is a solitary act
and is caused by the detachment from society and the integrated social
expectations with denial of self-agency. The two ethical solutions that can be
proposed to solve the social issue of suicide is that suicidal
people, their friends and family should have free access to education on mental
health and euthanasia and proving access to group therapy and increased social assistance such as
grants for volunteer work or recreational community programs. Although these
solutions are costly and time consuming they would be successful by acting as a
preventative measure and encouraging social acceptance. Suicide is a serious
social issue that must be handle with utmost importance.

[1] “Suicide.”
Merriam-Webster. Accessed December 17, 2017.
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/suicide.

 

[2] “Suicide.” National
Institute of Mental Health. Accessed December 17, 2017.
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/suicide/index.shtml.

 

[3] “Suicide.” Suicide –
Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Diagnosis – C-Health. Accessed December 17, 2017.
http://healthtools.chealth.canoe.com/condition_info_popup.asp?disease_id=206=8=0.

 

[4] “Immanuel Kant.”
Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Accessed December 17, 2017.
http://www.iep.utm.edu/kantview/.

 

[5] “Kant On Suicide.”
Philosophy Now: a magazine of ideas. Accessed December 17, 2017.
https://philosophynow.org/issues/61/Kant_On_Suicide.

[6] Cholbi, Michael.
“Suicide.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. July 21, 2017.
Accessed December 17, 2017. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/suicide/.

 

[7] “Emile Durkheim.”
Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Accessed December 17, 2017.
http://www.iep.utm.edu/durkheim/.

 

[8] “Suicide.” Suicide (1897).
Accessed December 17, 2017. http://durkheim.uchicago.edu/Summaries/suicide.html.

 

[9] Johnson, Bethany. “Emile
Durkheim: Society, Integration Level & Suicide Study.” Study.com.
Accessed December 17, 2017. https://study.com/academy/lesson/emile-durkheim-society-integration-level-suicide-study.html.

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