The Instigator
Pro (for)
2 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
22 Points

Suicide should be a crime

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/9/2014 Category: Society
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,367 times Debate No: 58771
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (13)
Votes (5)




(We're doing this debate again because I really wanted to debate this and couldn't complete the previous debate.)

I thank Romanii for the agreeing to debate this resolution. I'm pretty sure this will be an interesting debate, especially because I don't really have any strong opinion on the topic- although I do believe this is one of the fundamental topics- views on which have an impact on individual opinions on a lot of topics involving the interactions of state and rights.

First round for acceptance, no new arguments in the last round.

Over to Con :-)



Good luck, Cermank!
Debate Round No. 1


Legally, suicide was considered synonymous with felo de se, that is, where one who is of the age of discretion and is mentally competent, voluntarily kills himself in any way. I don't think anyone disagrees with the fact that suicide is an extremely sad situation, however disagreement arises when we try to come to an agreement over whether or not it should be 'illegal'. The question over whether or not the act should be ‘illegal’ depends on basically two factors-

  1. 1. Why does law exist? What is the basis of classifying a certain act as illegal?
  2. 2. Whether or not suicide falls into that category.

I’ll begin by outlining the basic objective of a law, and then go into whether or not suicide violates the objective.

A. Let’s look at some of the constitution preambles over the world.



The basic commonality between these constitutions is that they aim to general welfare of the people. This general welfare clause, a part of many constitutions, statutes and charters- aims to maximise the preserve the social structure of the state as a whole, be it through political/ economic/ cultural tools. To protect the society as a whole and to preserve the social fabric that ensures the strength of that structure. It might seem very anti- libertarian in the beginning, but we need to realize that a without a strong social structure, it is *impossible* to maintain individual liberty and freedom. Individual freedom banks upon the social contract that is in place. In order for us to maximize our utility/ happiness, we need non discriminatory laws, equality clause, freedom laws. There just cannot be a harmonious society without these basic ingredients. Thus the objective of a law is to preserve the social structure, and consequently provide the basic tools for maximizing individual utility- while at the same time preserving individual liberty and free will.

With this in mind, let us move on to point B.

B. Legalizing suicide implies violation of the aforementioned social structure.

This brings us to the next point- what does illegalizing something mean? Does it mean that a person would go to jail over it? Not necessarily. What it means is that the state is compelled to interfere in case the aforementioned act is carried out. The action taken by the state in response to someone committing suicide is open to questioning, is open to discussion. In this debate, we are concerned with whether or not the state *should* interfere in case someone exhibits suicidal tendencies.

Why the state should interfere is because (as would be explained forth) it attacks the very moral fabric of the society, causes suffering to people beyond the person committing suicide, and undermines the sanctity of life. State has a moral duty of interfering in case one of a subjects displays such a destructive tendency. To support, to rehabilitate, *even if the person does not desire it*.

(a) Choice to live and morality: "My morality, the morality of reason, is contained in a single axiom: existence exists—and in a single choice: to live. The rest proceeds from these." – Ayn Rand

Man is, first and foremost, a living being. Maintenance of life is his ultimate goal. This is universal, all organisms initiate any action as a subversion to that goal. They kill, eat, breathe, in order to live. Humans are a little more complex because they have free will. BECAUSE we have free will, we need moral standards to guide our lives. These standards need not be the same- and they need not be objective- but the very reason for moral standards to exist is because we have free will. We act, not merely exist. Morality helps us identify the important needs of a human- love, friendship, money, happiness, whatever- and then guides us to the tools we need to achieve them, the moral virtues. BUT, and this an important but, if a person does not wish to live, this is all moot. As Rand put it, "Life or death is man's only fundamental alternative. To live is his basic act of choice. If he chooses to live, a rational ethics will tell him what principles of action are required to implement his choice. If he does not choose to live, nature will take its course. There’s no sense of morality then."

The objective of the law is to protect the state and the people from each other, and to help guide people to make the choices that are right for the society. Suicide is not right for the society. The act is a final clip from the thread holding the society together, morality. It undermines the sanctity of life, and by extension- the basis of every right, law and obligation enforced by the constitution.

(b) The question of rights: Suicide being ‘legalised’ is often viewed as a question of choice, rather than as an immorality- against oneself and others around you. Suicide is intentional killing of a person, and consequently causing suffering. The right to life, the principle that’s often raised to legitimize suicide, does not cover the right to death. Right to non discrimination does not preclude right to allow yourself to be actively discriminated against by the society- since the repercussions of the latter affect a lot more people than just that one person, and has a negative influence on the social fabric of the suicide. Similarly, the right to life does not preclude the right to death precisely because the repercussions of the right to death go against the very structure of the constitution. A person who shows willingness to die should be actively helped, regardless of whether or not he shows the willingness to go to a rehab/ rehabilitate himself. Given that the state has an obligation to ‘promote general welfare’ and ‘preserve social order’; a person who shows the inclination to give it all up and die needs to be helped.

Thus, summarizing, suicide should be illegal because any inclination to suicide *needs* to be addressed, since that goes against the very fabric of the social structure. It causes suffering, is immoral, and thus reduces the general welfare of the public- which is what the constitution aims to maximize. It is thus state’s obligation to interfere and provide the requisite support structure.

It shouldn’t be normal, and we as a society should actively seek help rather than justifying someone’s will to die.



Thanks to Pro for her argument!
Since Pro is the one making the positive claim and it has not been stated otherwise, I will assume that she has the burden of proof, and that my role in this debate is to refute her arguments.


For the most part, I agree with Pro's notion that the role of a government is to promote general welfare by taking measures (i.e. creating laws) to preserve the state's social structure while simultaneously protecting individual rights.
However, I would like to stress that protecting individual rights is JUST as important as preserving the state's social structure; the two go hand in hand when it comes to ensuring general welfare.

I will be contesting all of Pro's arguments regarding why legalizing suicide supposedly works against the goal of general welfare.


R1) Morality

Pro summarizes her argument here quite nicely:

"Suicide is not right for the society. The act is a final clip from the thread holding the society together, morality. It undermines the sanctity of life, and by extension- the basis of every right, law and obligation enforced by the constitution."

1. Morality as Society's "Binding Factor"

Pro asserts that morality is "the thread holding society together". However, at the same time she concedes that morality is subjective. If morality is subjective, then people are bound to disagree on various issues concerning morality.
Take the examples of homosexuality, abortion, and wealth disparity; these represent just a few of the moral issues that divide society. Morality more often serves as a divisive factor than it does as a unifying factor, due to all the different interpretations of it.

The subjective nature of morality would cause its inclusion in the law-making process to result in a complete mess of indecisiveness and ineffectivity; basing law-making on more rational, objective principles (e.g. natural rights, separation of church/state, etc.) is much more beneficial to the pursuit of general welfare.
Due to its subjectivity, morality is far from being "the thread holding society together". An action being immoral by one interpretation of morality does not warrant making it illegal.

2. Sanctity of Life

Even though Pro admits that morality is subjective, she still asserts that suicide is immoral because it violates the "sanctity of life". I will show that Pro's "sanctity of life" argument is just another subjective moral interpretation that does not apply to everyone.
More specifically, the sanctity of life doesn't apply to suicidal people. If a guy begins to feel a desire to end his life, then obviously his life is not valuable enough to him personally for him to continue living; if the guy himself does not hold his own life to be sacred, then who are we to declare that it is still sacred? Just because many people believe that life is sacred does not mean that it is; that is their subjective belief based on their own experiences. It does not logically mean that life IS sacred for everyone. The sanctity of life clearly is not objectively true.

Thus, suicide is not immoral, as the only reason for believing so (given by Pro) is that it violates "the sanctity of life", which I have shown to be a subjective moral interpretation just like all other ethical theories.


R2) Individual Rights

Firstly, I will attempt to prove that the right to death is a natural human right by logical extension of the right to life...
Let's start with a simple question: on what basis do I have a "right to life" in the first place? It is based on the idea that my life was given to me at birth and is now MY property. Murder is illegal because doing so would be taking away my life, my property, without my consent. With suicide, however, that is not a problem! I am allowed to take away my own life because I have my own consent to do so.
I have the right to do what I wish with my life, just like I have the right to do what I wish with my material property. The right to death is analogous to the right to throw away my own property; many may view my exercising either of those rights as stupid and wasteful, but that does not mean that I do not have them.
Thus, the right to death is a natural human right that goes hand in hand with the right to life, based on the concept that MY life is MY property, and that I am free to do what I wish with it.

Now, Pro argues that people do not have a right to death, not because of anything to do with rights, but because of some utilitarian logic concerning the negative effects of a suicide on society.
However, Pro does not show that those effects are substantial enough to warrant the criminalization of exercising what SHOULD be a natural right.
All Pro has done is mentioned how a suicide is generally a very sad ordeal for all involved, but that does not equate to the type of societal damage that would substantially hinder general welfare. Pro has to show that the societal damage caused by allowing suicide is SO extensive, that one of our natural rights should be confiscated because of it.



My opponent and I seem to agree that the role of a government is to promote general welfare; where we disagree is whether or not making a suicide a crime is a necessary measure to take in fulfilling that role.
I have refuted both of Pro's cases in favor of the taking such a measure:

A. Morality

I. Morality is far too subjective with way too many interpretations of it for it to play a serious role in law-making. An action being immoral by one interpretation of morality does not warrant its criminalization.

II. Suicide is not immoral, anyways, because the "sanctity of life" does not apply to everyone, especially not to the suicidal people themselves.

B. Rights

I. The right to death is a natural right that all humans have as a result of having the right to life.

II. The negative social effects of suicide have not been shown to be substantial enough to warrant confiscating one of our natural rights.


I hand the debate back over to my opponent!
Good luck, Pro :D
Debate Round No. 2


I thank Romanni for his timely response!

Let me begin by first reiterating the context of illegalization in the debate. Illegalization implies that the ‘government’ is bound to intervene in case an individual considers suicide. It does not mean forced imprisonment. What exactly it entails is debateable, but outside the scope of the debate. In this debate, we are concerned with whether or not the government has the authority to intervene in case somebody tries to commit suicide.

1. Subjective morals: Now getting back to the debate, Romannii mentions how subjective morals negate any intervention by the government. However, that’s not my argument. What I argued was that even though I agree that people have subjective morals, people believe the good in their own specific brand of morals. Regardless of what “I” think about the morality of committing suicide, I’m more interested in the implication of suicide on the moral state of the individual himself. Suicide is disconnecting from their own brand of morals. As Rand said, our actions (driven by morals) exist because we exist. Our will to live is the driving force behind our actions. Even though these actions are varied (given subjective morals), they are still moral according to the individuals. Once this thread is severed, the entire moral structure is severed too. There’s no point in people acting according to their morals once they give up on their life.

2. Sanctity of life. Con made a seemingly valid claim here- that if a person is committing suicide, clearly the life isn’t very sacred to him. Agreed. But that is precisely the reason that the state needs to intervene, because the loss of the sanctity of life is a circumstantial thing. Its transient *and* reversible. Just because the person doesn’t believe in the sanctity now doesn’t mean he’ll hold the same view once he gets out of his suicidal phase. Given that the state has ensured that it would look after the welfare of all its citizens, it is morally obiliged to intervene if one of them shows destructive tendencies. Not only because of the negative impact of that person on himself (i.e suicide), but also on other people. The impact of a destructive person (who has given up on his life, and hence by extension, his morals- a claim Con did not contest) on the society is uncertain- something we have unfortunately seen which the large number of public shootings that have plagued our times. Government needs to ensure that it acts upon such people.

3. Individual rights: Con here raises the point that since right to death is a natural right, we should all have it if it does not cause considerable pain to anyone. However, here the issue of state responsibility of maximising general welfare comes forth. Regardless of whether it is a natural right or not, nobody just decides one day to commit suicide out of nowhere. More than 90% of the people who commit suicide suffer from a psychological illness. He can get better, there is a possibility- a strong possibility of him feeling better IF that mental illness is addressed. There is a strong possibility of improving the *general welfare* of the population, if adequate care is provided. Keeping in line with the general welfare clause, the state is *obiliged* to address this. Again, for two reasons.. To ensure he is not destructive to himself and other people. Depressed people are dangerous.

We should keep the main objective of granting rights, to keep a positive social structure in place. Giving rights solely for the purpose of giving rights serves no purpose. If there is a possibility that forfeiting a right would lead to a better individual and social life quality, that right has no place in the society.

Summarizing, in the first round I invoked Rand's argument of how the attachment to life invokes any valid moral code of conduct, and thus a detachment from the same makes a person destructive for himself and his society. i.e, he is a danger. Keeping in line with the general welfare principle, state is justified in intervening and addressing the root cause of these suicidal tendencies, which 90% of the times are psychological problems. Con raised the issue of subjective morals, which was kind of a misunderstanding of the issue raised in the first round. The second and third point dealt with individual natural rights and the value of life, where he contended that life is a natural right, and so is the right to death. If a person wanted to die (and didn't value his life enough)- he should be allowed to without involving the state. I responded by arguing that the willingness to die and devaluing of life was a temporary thing owing to circumstances and mental diagonoses that was not permanent. An outside intervention aimed at addressing this root cause was warranted because (a) it would address the root cause of suicidal tendencies and thus would lead to revaluing of his life by him in the future, improving his overall life quality, and (b) Help cease him being a danger to the society. Which was warranted since it invoked the general welfare principal.

The resolution is affirmed.



Thanks to Cermank for her argument!

I'd like to start this round by objecting to Pro's unorthodox definition of "crime"...
She seems to interpret it as being "an act which requires government intervention". However, this is not at all the common definition of crime, and it was not a definition that was set in Round 1, so I have no obligation to accept it. Her definition essentially turns the resolution into "The Government should provide Medical Help to people displaying Suicidal Tendencies", which is something that I personally agree with, and is definitely NOT what I was expecting to debate, accepting a debate titled "Suicide should be a crime".

The following definition of "crime" is from Merriam-Webster's Dictionary (

"an act or the commission of an act that is forbidden or the omission of a duty that is commanded by a public law and that makes the offender liable to punishment by that law"

Under Pro's definition, there is no mention of punishment at all, which clearly is and has always been an integral part of the word "crime".
Thus, I shall be utilizing this definition for the remainder of the debate.

R1) Morality

Pro argues that it does not matter if morality is subjective because all interpretations of morality have their basis in the sanctity of human life. With this new understanding of Pro's argument here, I will go ahead and concede that particular point, concentrating more on my argument that the sanctity of human life not applying to suicidal people.
Pro does not really argue against that notion, other than pointing out that loss of sanctity of life can be reversed. However, this debate is about making suicide something to be considered as CRIME, not a cause for government-sponsored medical intervention. And the punishment associated with criminalization would probably not do much at all to reverse the loss of sanctity in a suicidal person's life, more likely worsening the problem.
Pro has not contested that a suicidal person's life is no longer sacred to them, so my point still stands that suicide does not violate the sanctity of life.

R2) Rights

Pro attempts to show that suicide is bad enough for general welfare that it would warrant illegalizing a natural right such as the Right to Death; she argues that suicide is often caused by psychological illness, and people with psychological illnesses can be dangerous to society.
However, this clearly does not support illegalizing suicide.... it's an argument for illegalizing psychological illness...
She has not even contested that the act of suicide itself is not hugely detrimental to general welfare, instead concentrating on something much bigger than suicide itself, rendering her argument non-topical to the debate.
And anyways, I must assert that illegalizing an act involves penalizing the people who commit that act, and in this case, penalizing suicidal people for being suicidal does nothing more than violate their natural right to death.


1. Crime involves punishment; it is not simply a cause for government-sponsored medical intervention.

2. Suicide is not immoral, as it does not violate the sanctity of life.

3. Criminalizing Suicide is nothing more than a violation of our natural right to death.

Apologies if this round seems rushed; I was under some unfortunate time constraints.
Back to you, Pro!

Debate Round No. 3


Cermank forfeited this round.


Vhere yoo go Cermaaaaaaaaaaaankkkkk???? :(
Debate Round No. 4
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by DeletedUser 7 years ago
PRO argued that legalizing suicide implies societal sanction of something that comes at the expense of the general welfare. However, PRO's point that the object of law is to protect people from the state and each other does not go far enough. For her arguments to hold, she must also say that the purpose of law is to protect people from themselves. The issue of moral subjectivity should have been left alone, as it was generally beyond the scope of the resolution. I didn't find PRO's moral arguments very strong, when evaluated against CON's rebuttals. Says CON: "An action being immoral by one interpretation of morality does not warrant making it illegal." Rather than talking about what PRO needed to do, CON should have more clearly framed this as a question of individual rights and indirectly as a question of the extent to which government has a legitimate reason to protect individuals from themselves. CON, however, made the curious arguments that governments should not criminalize suicide because (1) there are problems with punishing suicide and (2) individuals have a natural right to death. PRO might have overcome these, but she forfeited her last round. Arguments and conduct to CON, accordingly.
Posted by Ajab 7 years ago
I will vote on this.
Posted by IndianaFrank 7 years ago
Anyone who commits suicide should be killed.
Posted by Romanii 7 years ago

Aw, damn.... that sux :/


Thanks for the vote and RFD!
Posted by ChosenWolff 7 years ago
@ClassicRobert- I'm still voting conduct do to ground shifting the resolution from crime to illegal
Posted by ChosenWolff 7 years ago

Pro made a pretty good contention that humanity is sacred and it would be immoral to kill a life. Scrap that. It wasn't a good argument. It was a terrible argument. That life is sacred. Did Ayn Rand explain why life is sacred? In metaphysics, arguments start secular and from scratch. As stupid as this sounds, the voters can only affirm what is said, but we can't believe something simply because you say it. Even if it's extremely simplistic in nature. Or generally accepted. Using an off bat assumption on what is morally right without providing reasoning to as why will not earn you any argument points.


Con conceded most of this. That waas his choice, so I'll accept it, although I think he should of played the point anyways. I am giving Pro conduct because concessions instead of devils advocate arguments are generally poor conduct, and I think Pro deserves points for how close this debate has been.


Wrapping things up here. Pro once again made the assumption of "rights". I don't view them as "rights". She says that people have the right of "life", but no where do we have the right of "death". Alright, but explain your reasoning. You have the BOP, so please tell me upon how you reasoned this point, instead of quoting Ayn Rand.. I hate it when people say "right". It's a semantic term that can go both ways. There's a saying that you can't make liberty without taking liberty. One mans right is another mans crime. In this case the rights of "life" and "death"


Not sure Romanii was arguing the same contention he was refuting, but he does bring up a point on general welfare. Pro didn't prove that. But the point was that death was a right. Pro didn't actually prove to me what's a right, and as I stated earlier, one mans right is another mans crime.


Pro ground shifted from the resolution that suicide is a crime, and said illegalization. Con was right to have pointed this out.

- Conduct goes to Romanii for FF and RS
- Argum
Posted by ClassicRobert 7 years ago
Cermank said that she wanted to apologize for forfeiting a round. She says she promises that she had it all written out, but then her internet went out.
Posted by ChosenWolff 7 years ago
not done. Don't comment...........
Posted by ChosenWolff 7 years ago

Pro started the debate bringing up the constitution. This is always a red flag for me, because the resolution is "should", and while it can be argued under certain circumstances that we "should" follow the constitution, it's not as strong as another argument. Don't forget, Romanii also has a "should" resolution, without the BOP. Suicide should not become a crime. But the actual point was the government should promote the welfare of the people. I think pro confused "promote" with "enforce" , but I'll get to that later.


Con conceded right away that it is the governments "duty" to promote the general welfare, completely forgetting the word "should". He did bring up that personal liberties are of higher importance, and I would have to agree. The government must "promote" welfare, but "ensure" personal liberties. Unfortunately, con didn't correlate these two things, and since I'm required to vote for what's in the debate, I will be giving this point to pro.


Pro brings up the words "morals", "fabric", and "society" this round, which is where my critique starts. Pro's argument was essentially that the government has a job to promote for the fabric of society, and although i have some criticisms to this point, it was affirmed by Romanii. So I'm going to go directly to con's rebuttal on the issue to see if it was negated.


Pretty simple and on the mark. Con says moral are subjective, and normally I would reprimand him for playing this argument ,but the is right in this instance. The government is another term for "the people". The people are promoting their own moral and societal fabric, and while morals kare subjective in nature, they can be objective through government. The problem, is that Pro never said that society held her same morals. They are her morals, but she contends it like they're others as well. She needs to prove the majority of people share this view, and convince me why it's wrong.
Posted by Romanii 7 years ago
Posted with 1 minute to spare -.-

Sorry, Cermank, for making this semantical.... I didn't have a choice (other than concession) :/
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by iamanatheistandthisiswhy 7 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: The debate arguments have to go to Con, as Pro was not sticking to the resolution or that is, what is was meant to be. However, by defining what crime actually is Con effectively sealed the debate and Pro arguments were weakened even more. I think the general argument that Pro was trying to argue (government should supply help for depressed people) will not get complaints from anyone, but this is not what crime is. Finally conduct points go to Con, as Pro forfeited the last round.
Vote Placed by Blade-of-Truth 7 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Conduct & Arguments - Con. Pro FF the final round as well as had the BOP. Because of the failure to provide contentions that would further affirm her position, I am forced to award these points to Con. Source s - Con. Pro did not utilize sources throughout this debate whereas Con did.
Vote Placed by 9spaceking 7 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: ff and failure to rebut con's 2cd-to-last-round arguments
Vote Placed by Anonymous 7 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Comments.
Vote Placed by ChosenWolff 7 years ago
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Total points awarded:24 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments

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