An Argument in Support of Suicide Centres
Edwards, Steven D
Health care analysis : HCA : journal of health philosophy and policy 2010 Jun; 18(2): 175-87
In the UK and elsewhere suicide presents a major cause of death. In 2008 in the UK the topic of suicide rarely left the news. Controversy surrounding Daniel James and Debbie Purdy ensured that the problem of assisted suicide received frequent media discussion. This was fuelled also by reports of a higher than usual number of suicides by young people in South Wales. Attention attracted by cases such as that of Daniel James and Debbie Purdy can lead to a neglect of the problem of how to respond to the vast majority of suicides, in which there is no obvious accompanying health problem. This paper seeks to redress that balance to some degree. Its focus is primarily on the provision of assisted suicide when the person seeking such assistance has no accompanying health problem. It is argued that a network of suicide centres (SCs) should be established, the purpose which in certain circumstances, will extend to assisting suicide in cases where a competent person has a definite, sustained intention to end their own life. Arguments in support of this proposal are provided, focusing on respect for autonomy, relief of suffering and respect for the 'life-plan' of a person. Considerations relating to reduction of harms to third parties are also recruited. Eight responses to the proposal are considered. But none is found compelling, nor are they found jointly compelling.
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