Assisted Suicide

by TristanD1330097 on November 12, 2014 - 4:45pm

In this case, published in the Journal of Advance Nursing in 1998, there is a woman named Susan that does not value her life anymore and wants to die. Before judging, here is a little back ground on Susan. Susan is 27 years old lawyer, well-traveled and liked skiing. She was engaged to a man named John. One day they ended up in a car crash. John died but Susan survived but became paralyzed from the neck down. Susan spent many months assessing her situation and decided it was worthless. She could not do anything and at that point was just wasting resources. The question that arises from this is if it ethical for the doctors to give Susan euthanasia to end her life? The more general question of this is: is it ethical to end someone’s life depending on the situation?


McCormack, Paula. "Quality of Life and The Right To Die: Ethical Dilemma." Journal of Advanced Nursing (1998): 63-69.


One way in which one could answer this question is with the principle that us, humans, have the "natural inclination of humans to achieve their proper end through reason and free will" (Magee). This principle belongs to Aquinas' conception of the Natural Law. However, this theory would only apply in certain conditions where the community around Susan would benefit more from her passing than her living in sch a way, since Aquinas suggests that a moral decision comes from reason is intended for the common good.
Here is a link to a website that defines the theory and principle:

Tristan, I find euthanasia cases to always give me a great ethical dilemma. My energy and enthusiasm for life is core deep. Because I value life, it is so hard for me to conceptualize other people’s feelings of suicide. I usually feel like they haven’t tried hard enough or pushed themselves down different avenues in life to find things they are passionate about—things that make life worth living. But, then I read cases like these, where it is very difficult to see an optimistic future for someone.
Susan’s quality of life is extremely low. My mom worked in a nursing home for years; many times, she would share stories of people that were stuck in situations similar to this. Humans can quickly become helpless, dependent, and hopeless. Many people are quick to say euthanasia is unethical and a death without dignity. My mother had a different view that I've adopted. Most people in the nursing home were entirely dependent on the aides in order to do any basic activities of daily life: brushing your teeth, bathing, using the toilet, and even eating. These people were miserable—they would pray at night for God to let them die.
It is crucial to note that most of these people would not be alive if it weren't for the medical technology that exists today. Think about Susan, for example. Being paralyzed from her neck down, she was probably on life support: tubes helped her breath, urinate, and get nutrition. We pump electricity through someone’s chest until his or her heart restarts, and use extreme medications to keep them alive and functioning. So, the way I see it, if we consider it to be unethical to commit euthanasia, we should also consider if it is unethical to force people to stay alive, far after they are ready to pass on.

Assisted suicide is a very touchy topic but has to be looked at from multiple angles. When I was in 10th grade, one of my close friends committed suicide. He was upset over a recent break up and resorted to hanging himself at a nearby park. He was one of the most out-going and funny people you could ever meet. He won the superlative “Everybody’s best friend” in his senior year and rightfully so. Everyone loved him and coming from a school that graduates 180 people a year this impacted everyone. For about a week nobody went to class. The library, counseling office, and even friendly teachers were busy mourning with students about the loss. This is where I think suicide, assisted or not, is a selfish act. He didn’t think about all of us that were left behind. This was the easy way out. To answer your questions the only way I think assisted suicide should be allowed is if it is given a waiting period of atleast 6 months. I think this because if you look up a lot of people’s stories about surviving attempted suicide the majority of them say it was the greatest thing that has ever happened to them. They say they were living in the moment and regret ever even thinking about leaving their friends and family behind. This is why I believe a waiting period could possibly benefit the suicidal person to give them a chance to really think about this choice. I’m sure Daryl would never think about it again if he survived. Rest in peace my friend.

Assisted suicide is a topic that I am strongly opinionated on. I believe that if a person truly wishes to end their life, they should have the freedom to do so. This is especially true in cases similar to Susan’s, in which people have a terminal or debilitating medical condition that will cause them to suffer the rest of their life. To me, it is unethical that people with terminal illnesses are forced to go through an extended period of suffering before they die rather than doing so in peace. A person should have the freedom to decide for themselves whether their life is worth continuing.
My strong opinion is most likely because I grew up in a country that strongly values individual freedom and choice. In addition, I grew up in a secular family. Many religious people I’ve talked to believe that a higher power should decide when people are born and when they die. In other words, they believe in death by natural causes and see suicide as unnatural.
I really liked the example you used in your post because it is one that will spark a lot of controversy. On one hand, she is paralyzed from the neck down and will be able to do very little with her life without help. On the other hand, she doesn’t have a terminal illness and therefore may someday find meaning in her life. People will form different opinions over the issue depending on whether they value the continuation of life over personal freedom or vise versa.

In this particular case study, if I were Susan's doctor and she came up to me and asked me to assist her in her suicide, I do not see how I could of said no. She has lived through so much, and unfortunately, does not see what she can do with her life anymore. When her fiancé died, everything went spiraling down for her, and I understand why she would want to end her life. She's paralyzed, and would spend the rest of her life unable to do anything on her own, really. The man she was supposed to marry died. If I put myself in her shoes, I would probably want to do the same. I think we should all respect her decision. I'm sure it is hard for the rest of her family to accept this, but it is her choice and it should be up to her. We all decide what we want to do in life. Sure, we make bad decisions sometimes, but I am sure that she has had more than enough time to think this through. She deserves to make her own decisions, and therefore I believe that her rights should be respected.
I found a link that has some statistics on assisted suicide. One of the charts has information from Oregon:
One thing that I found interesting when reading your article is that it reminded me of the case of a young woman who decided to move to Oregon in order to have someone assist her in her suicide. She had terminal cancer, and instead of living her last few months in pain and suffrage, she decided that she wanted to end it herself, when she was ready. Brittany Maynard wanted to die in dignity, and she did.

In this particular case study, I think that the fact that a person is paralyzed is not an excuse to seek death because in life even though you have a problem, no matter how big it is, it would be unethical to ever want death unless you are not able to make your own decision but in the case of Susan, she still see and hear things which means that she can be talking and enjoying life with her family. Also, maybe the fact that her husband died has put her in depression stage which is surely influencing the way she thinks. This page shows that 1000 people go through with the use of assisted suicide every year when it is legal but it has also been shown that it was use by people who couldn't take the decision themselves because they were in coma or because they brain has been affected too much.