Socrates defined living well as "living according to your principles." Socrates had to live a honest and just life in order to live well. He has to take accountability whether that means doing anything from drinking hemlock to committing suicide. In this case however, Socrates realized not only that it was not right to escape, but the correct thing to do was to drink the hemlock. Had he escaped, he would have been admitting that he has a reason to escape. He must have done something unjust to escape from the law, why else would he run away? He has a very comfortable outlook on death and knows to not fear it. So if Socrates does not fear it, why wouldn't he embrace it when he is given the choice to. Philosophers always have a struggle with death because it is the one thing they cannot learn about and so they are curious and almost eager to explore this unknown territory. Now, Socrates is presented the opportunity to experience the mystery of death. So why wouldn't he embrace the opportunity to both live well and explore the unknown?
The current issue at hand revolves around the statement of "Socrates should have drank the hemlock.":
I shall begin by stating that Socrates was completely unjustified in his consumption of the poison. Essentially, Socrates was convicted and sentenced to commit suicide by consuming the poison. Now if I am not mistaken, suicide is looked upon by the Church and God as a mortal sin and breaks the Law of God(s). At the time of Socrates trial, religion was a key factor in political and societal function, and even Socrates in his own statements to the courts argued that he too believed in a God, even if it not be the one of the state. With that said, was his whole trial not a defense of how he did not break the law or how he found it to be hypocritical to run away and break the law of the Athenian's, the law of the land in which he called home? Was the ultimate decision of suicide not just as hypocritical in the sense that it broke the Law of God(s), the Divine and all mighty ruler(s)? If Socrates truly sought to not break the law of the land, he would indeed have fought for, at least some other form of punishment to avoid ultimately loosing his key argument that he did not break any laws nor do any harm through his teachings or actions.
Suicide is the intentional killing of oneself. This is usually committed by someone who does not want to live anymore. Never did Socrates say he does not want to live anymore nor does he say that he is suicidal. Socrates was given the choice to face exile instead of drinking the hemlock, however, that does not mean choosing the hemlock is suicide. It is being done to him by someone. Now, had he chosen to drink hemlock on his own terms without it being a punishment for a crime he committed, then yes, it would be suicide. However, that is not the case here. He even states "he should not think of death or of anything, but of disgrace." Referring to man in "The Apology" Not only does he not believe in suicide, he does not think one should think of something as mysterious as death. Socrates would not be punished if he did not question the word of god. He was put on trial for convincing children to question the god followed by their society. Socrates did not commit suicide, he was put to death by the city of Athens.
You have answered your own question, suicide is the intentional killing of oneself. He was not forced to ingest the hemlock and was indeed giving a choice to avoid killing himself and accepting exile. Socrates states, "For I deem that the votary of philosophy is likely to be misunderstood by other men; they do not perceive that he is always pursuing death and dying; and if this be so, he has had the desire of death all his life long, why when his time comes should he repine at that which he has been always pursuing and desiring?" In his statement, he addresses death as the next step for philosophers in that it is a releasing of the mind from the constraints of the body. What should be paid more attention to in this debate is when he states, "...why when his time comes should he repine..." It is safe to say that Socrates believes there is a plan for everyone in life and only when one's time has come, should death be looked upon favorably. Socrates' s death was untimely and forced upon himself by the Athenians, but was ultimately the direct result of his own actions and his previous actions that had gotten him placed on trial in the first place.
I simply disagree with you in regards to Socrates' death being suicide. However, you are entitled to have that opinion. Now, I want to bring up that the death of Socrates has had a major effect on the way society works today. If it didn't we wouldn't be having this debate thousands of years later. Had Socrates not have been put to death, the world wouldn't have seen how strict the city of Athens was in terms of religion. All in all, his death was essential to the future of philosophy because of the impact it had on the world. The proof is seen in that we are still talking about it in 2013. Socrates surely knew that his death was the only way to prove his point to the people. He understood the weight of his decision and how it would forever effect society. It helped us learn about how the world functioned back then. How else would we have understood the extent of Athens' religious ways? I end my point with saying that like it or not, Socrates had to die in order to teach us about the world in 399 BC. Frankly, we should all thank him for dying instead of debating over it.
I have already made my statements regarding his suicide but furthermore, i completely disagree with your next argument. Socrates did not have to die in order to show how unjust society was at the time of his existence. Socrates could have very well accepted exile and spread his story across the new lands in which he would have been sent. By accepting death as his fate, he abruptly ended his philosophical journey on Earth and expanded it into the next world. Expansion is great, but premature expansion deprives the native cause of full maturation. Socrates had much more to offer to his peers and could have influenced the lives of many more directly had he chosen to leave Athens and expand upon the new horizons in which he would have came across through his venture of the outside world. I do believe more that his trials are what informs us as to the proceedings of the Athenian society in 399 B.C. His trials showed the ignorance and immaturity of the peoples in which he dealt with, but Socrates's death showed his own misinterpretation of the opportunities exile would have granted him.