The Instigator
kylevd
Pro (for)
Winning
18 Points
The Contender
GBretz
Con (against)
Losing
15 Points

should suicide be legal?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/13/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,051 times Debate No: 1760
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (16)
Votes (11)

 

kylevd

Pro

it has always vexed me how suicide is illegal and yet it is clearly stated in the constitution that everyone has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. i would assume that the right to life would also include the right to take it away[from yourself]. i dont see any reason why suicide is considered illegal. but, please, if you know more about this subject please let me know. its just something i have always questioned in the united states government.
GBretz

Con

Thank you for the opportunity to debate this issue. This is my first debate here on debate.org. Now on to business.

1) I'd like to point out that since 1990, suicide is no longer a punishable crime. So I will be arguing the point that suicide should be made a punishable crime.

2) The legalization and (by extension) the acceptance of suicide is economically unfavorable. Less population means less taxpayers, less potential workers in the workforce, and less economic growth. The acceptance of suicide would make the amount of suicides go up since emotional people would be more to likely commit suicide over smaller problems. To be perfectly frank, the government could not possibly benefit economically from suicides, but it has much to lose.

3) The right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness is in the Declaration of Independence and not the Constitution, so it could be argued that one doesn't have the right to take his own life.

4) Suicide is punishable. In the UK, the deceased forfeits their estate to the government if he/she suicides. Unsuccessful suicide attempts amount to one year of jail time in Singapore. Jail time isn't the best solution to suicide attempts, so in the USA a more moderate approach could be taken, such as mandatory psychiatric help or possible community service.

I anxiously await your rebuttal.
Debate Round No. 1
kylevd

Pro

haha, i apologize on behalf of me saying it was in the constitution. wow, what a bad opening argument...

anyway, i should have made myself more clear. my position is that suicide should not result in any form of forced psychiatric help, medicinal, etc. completely due to the declaration of independence. since that kind of help is considered mandatory, one must comply with the order or suffer jail time/punishment which violates the claim of the right to life. even though this is indirect, it can still be considered punishment by trying to commit suicide.

i again apologize, i meant in terms of the law and court systems, not in economics.

for your third point, even though the declaration of independence is in actuality only a letter to the former british king and not law, it is still a government document and is renowned for its statements. saying that one does not have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness would utterly outrage the people of the united states, who consider it a law.

it could also be argued under the 9th amendment, that the right to commit suicide is one of those rights not listed in the constitution and is "retained by the people." since it is a right, it therefore cannot be punished or infringed upon unless so enacted by the courts.

i also look forward to this debate continuing.
GBretz

Con

1) Sorry, but I didn't entirely understand the point you were trying to make in your first paragraph, but I will address it as I understand it. You say the Declaration gives the person the right to take his/her own life, however I disagree. The Declaration gives the person the right to pursue a life unconstrained by bureaucratic authority figures, not the right to do as they wish. A common interpretation of the Constitution and other legal documents is this: "My rights end where your rights begin." This means that I can do as I wish so long as I do not infringe on your ability to do as YOU wish. Now suppose suicide was legal, under the pretext that the right of Life allows you to take your own as well. What if a father of a family took his own life? Wouldn't this affect the family's ability to have a meaningful Life and hamper their pursuit of Happiness? What if a murderer is convicted and appeals to his right to suicide in prison? Wouldn't this hamper the justice system, whose job it is to punish those that commit such crimes? You cannot justify suicide on that one line in the Declaration because then it infringes on other rights that must be taken literally along with right to Life.

2)I added that economics point in there showing it is in the government's best interest to outlaw suicide for monetary reasons as well as ethical and judicial reasons.

3) You are correct in your third paragraph, the Declaration is an important government document and denying those rights listed in it would be creating riots all over the country. However, on a purely legal platform, the Declaration affirms nothing other than the formation of the United States, those rights listed are only reasons for separation from Britain.

4) The 9th amendment refers to enumeration of the Constitution, meaning that Amendment 1 shouldn't be more important than Amendment 5 and so on. However, you make a valid point, saying suicide could be considered a right retained by the people. But in 1963, the courts did make it illegal to commit suicide, so those rights retained cannot be challenged. Granted, since 1990, all suicide laws have been repealed, but I'm arguing that they should return so I don't think this should hurt my argument in the least.

5) Taking your own life has a profound negative effect on all those around you. Many of your friends and family become depressed, leading to possible further suicides. In taking your own life, you infringe upon your contemporary's right the pursuit of happiness, one of his/her retained rights. There is no possible way one could legally justify a suicide, since the right to death can only be accompanied with the right to happiness.

Your response is desired.
Debate Round No. 2
kylevd

Pro

-this is a good point, but it is open to many other cases and situations. for example, you said that taking one's life would infringe upon the right to the pursuit of happiness of those around you. if one is challenging the right to life aspect one must also challenge the others. if taking one's own life infringes upon another's pursuit of happiness, wouldn't firing someone from his/her job be infringing upon that right, also? wouldn't a tenant of an apartment building being thrown out be infringing upon his/her pursuit of happiness? these are obviously different scenarios than suicide, but they have key similarities. they all infringe upon one's right to the pursuit of happiness.

there are quite simply too many different scenarios to be taken into account to determine what would infringe upon one's right and what would not. however, this can all be avoided by taking the 'right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness' at face value. the right to life would be the right to control your own body, without someone forcing you to do otherwise. the right to liberty would be the right to be free of government oppression or simply live without government. finally, the pursuit of happiness would be the right to PURSUE happiness. the pursuit of happiness issue can be interpreted so as you may pursue it, but you may never actually be happy. therefore, it could be argued that committing suicide does not infringe upon another's ability to pursue happiness, just changing another's present state of emotion; merely a 'setback' in one's goal of 'happiness.'

-you stated that "...since the right to death can only be accompanied with the right to happiness." however, this can be turned around in the case of someone being suicidal: ...since the right to the pursuit of happiness can only be accompanied with the right to death. in this case, dying would make that person happy. therefore, telling someone that they cannot commit suicide is infringing upon his/her right to the pursuit of happiness, due to suicide watch, being held in a psychiatric hospital until released, etc. because they are ultimately incapable of pursuing it any longer.

i look forward to this conversation continuing.
GBretz

Con

Tenants and employees sign specific contracts that justify their hardships when broken. And if they are thrown out or fired unrightfully, then they can sue to correct the wrong. Those affected by a suicide sign no contract and have no legal method of pursuing justice.

One could also argue that the suicide of a loved one DOES infringe on their pursuit of happiness, because it makes their pursuit much harder emotionally and sometimes financially. And a it is legally impossible to protest on these ground in the face of a legal suicide.

Consider the case of a father's legal suicide: Under articles 9 and 10 of the UNICEF Rights of Children treaty, a child cannot be separated from his parents against their will. This is in respect mainly to border laws, but can be applied as well. If you don't agree, article 19 states that a child should be protected from abuse, including emotional abuse. (I'm sorry, I can't provide a link but please verify it by all means.) Now if this father is not permitted to suicide, but others are, where is the justice?

I think we cannot take the right to the pursuit of happiness too far, because it virtually forbids anyone to stand in the way of anyone that is doing something not expressly forbidden by the law, but could possibly be harming themselves and others.

In all reasons practical, suicide does more harm than good. Economically, the USA can't afford it. Ethically, it can be considered wrong. Emotionally, it is a burden on those affected by it. Legally, the right to life can be interpreted to include the right to death, and it can be interpreted otherwise. I think you have the stronger case concerning the legal perspective, but I don't believe it matters. The original question of the debate is "Should suicide be legal?" I say it is an emphatic no, and I provided my reasons for such a claim. The right to suicide is a right to harm oneself, and I don't think such a right should be pursued. Practically, suicide should not be legal.

I would like to thank my opponent for the excellent points made in this debate, he was a worthy opponent. I'd also like to ask the voters to vote on the debate itself and not their personal views on the issue at hand. Thank you.
Debate Round No. 3
16 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Redman 9 years ago
Redman
Let people do what they want with their own life. That, afterall, is the greatest freedom. If they see a reason to live, awesome. If not, wish them luck.
Posted by GBretz 9 years ago
GBretz
And there are some that decide not to take their lives to spare their families the punishment. Theres really no way to test the effectiveness of the posthumous punishment, but I'm of the opinion that it turns more away from suicide than would originally end their own lives.
Posted by mindjob 9 years ago
mindjob
They care, but the point is that they still make that decision. So it makes absolutely no sense to punish the family when they had no say in the suicidal person's decision.
Posted by GBretz 9 years ago
GBretz
You'd be surprised mindjob. People have many different reasons for suicide, and although some may not care, others care deeply about their estate and dependents despite making the decision to end their own lives.
Posted by mindjob 9 years ago
mindjob
That's even more ridiculous then. A person who is that concerned with their family's well-being is already not going to commit suicide. The pain they know it would cause the family would be enough to keep them from killing themselves. People who commit suicide do it for personal, self-centered reasons
Posted by GBretz 9 years ago
GBretz
It's a prevention method. If the suicidal person knows that their family will be affected, they may not suicide.
Posted by mindjob 9 years ago
mindjob
The penalties on the estate are particularly dumb. Why should the family be punished because of someone else's decision?
Posted by GBretz 9 years ago
GBretz
There are penalties on the estate of the deceased as well.
Posted by Harlan 9 years ago
Harlan
If you fail in the process. It hapens all the time. There are no charges for suicide only "attempted suicide".
Posted by defleppard1691 9 years ago
defleppard1691
ok what difference does it make, u commit suicide lets say its illegal, what r they gonna do, arrest you?
11 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by Bitz 9 years ago
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kylevdGBretzTied
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