Suicide is commonly known as theact of taking one’s own life voluntarily and intentionally. 1Suicide has become a social issue because for the past few years suicide hasincreased rapidly in teens. For young people of 15- 24 years of age, suicide isthe second leading cause of death. 2In addition, social media sometimes glamorizes the idea of suicide. It is a seriousissue today, and is related to mental illnesses such as depression. It is veryrare for there to be only one cause of suicide.
Many people who die fromsuicide suffer from an untreated mental illness. Another possible cause of suicideis when one does not fit into society. Common risk factors include majorpsychiatric illness – in particular, mood disorders (e.
g., depression, bipolardisorder, schizophrenia), substance abuse (primarily alcohol abuse), familyhistory of suicide, long term difficulties with relationships with friends andfamily, losing hope or the will to live, significant losses in a person’s life,such as the death of a loved one, loss of an important relationship, loss ofemployment or self-esteem and unbearable emotional or physical pain.3 This essay aims to bring light the topic of suicide using Immanuel Kant andEmile Durkheim’s principles in order to suggest multiple ethical solutions toresolve the social issue.Theethical solution to the problem of suicide and euthanasia is that suicidalpeople should have free access to therapy before receiving permission for euthanasia,provide free access to mental health help and educating the public on thedangers and warning signs of suicidal thoughts and the person wanting to commitsuicide should show visible evidence and signs of wanting to die prior toproposing euthanasia.According to Immanuel Kant an agent who takes his ownlife by suicide and by extension assisted suicide acts in violation of themoral law and is therefore wrong. Kant’s conclusions in forbidding suicide andeuthanasia, is combining respect for people and assuming that, in killing aperson either oneself or another we are thereby undermining personhood.
4Immanuel Kant is not forsuicide or against it. Arguments in support of euthanasia say that it allowspeople who are terminally ill to be relieved of their pain and suffering. Italso allows a terminally ill person to die in dignity.5Furthermore, they argue that choosing when to die is personal freedom.
Theresponse to people who feel that euthanasia is an abomination of the humanbeing’s dignity is as follows. He holds that death is natural part of the humannature and nobody has the right to determine when to die or live not even thedoctor.5 Kant states that euthanasia can be open to abuse byrelatives or friends who have ulterior motives other than wish the person toget well. Legalization of euthanasia might lead to assaults on individualautonomy.6This could possibly lead to assaults on individual autonomy because a personthat does not cognitive function may not be able to make their own choices aboutdeath or after death procedures and the body of the person could become usedfor experimental or sexual purposes from doctors and necrophiliacs.
The first ethicalsolution to the issue on suicide and euthanasia is that suicidalpeople, their friends and family should have free access to education on mentalhealth and euthanasia. Using Immanuel Kant’s principle free access to educationon mental health and euthanasia will allow long term understanding for bothparties involved and helping the person feel as if they have autonomy in makingtheir decision. Also, the family will understand how not to coerce and entirelyunderstand the decision behind the choice being made. Lastly, it will allowboth parties to find the best ways to cope after the act has been committed.
In comparison, philosopher Emile Durkheim principle states that suicide isa solitary act and causes have significant links to various social factors.Emile Durkheim did not focus on the personality traits in the person committingsuicide but focused on the amount of suicide’s in a particular area and howthat area’s social beliefs that could impact the idea of suicide. He found thatthe social factors that contribute greatly to suicide rates are; cohesiveness,a person’s standing and religious, social and occupational standings. Durkheimalso stated that although suicide is an individual act it is directly connectedto the social life of the individual. 7Emile Durkheim described suicide in the terms of integration; the level inwhich a person feels connected to or accepted by a group or society. A personwith high levels of integration feels wanted and accepted by society and has alow risk of committing suicide. A person with low levels of integration feelslonely and unwanted and has a high risk of committing suicide.
8Durkheim developed a theoretical typology of suicide to explain the differingeffects of social factors and how they might lead to suicide it is composed of Anomic suicide occurs when a person experiencesanomie — a sense ofdisconnection from society and a feeling of not belonging that result fromweakened social cohesion, Altruisticsuicide happens when there is excessive regulation ofindividuals by social forces, such that a person will be moved to killthemselves for the benefit of a cause or for society at large, Egoistic suicidehappens when people feel totally detached from society and Fatalistic suicideoccurs under conditions of extreme social regulation that result in oppressiveconditions and a denial of the self and of agency.9 Based on Durkheim’s principle the ethicalsolution would be group therapy and providing increased social assistance suchas grants for volunteer work or recreational community programs. This solution would help Anomicsuicide and Egoistic suicide by providing people with the opportunity toconnect and bond with others that are dealing with the same issue.
By allowingpeople to relate to each other it will eliminate the feeling of detachment fromsociety. They will also be given the chance to associate with different socialgroups giving them more attachment to society. Also, the solution will helpAltruistic and Fatalistic suicide because social assistance such as volunteerwork or recreational community programs allows people to take time away fromrepetitive daily roles and help gain control of one’s individual agency. Bytaking part in different roles it will lessen the oppression placed onindividuals by social culture because they are free to explore their innerself. A critical rebuttal against these ethicalsolutions could be they are costly and time consuming, however the benefits outway the cost.
Immanuel Kant’s ethical solution of free access to education onmental health and euthanasia and Emile Durkheim’s solution of group therapy andproviding increased social assistance is costly and time consuming yeteffective. These solutions will work as a preventative measure because it will allowothers in the society to become more aware and connected. It will also helpothers in society that may be feeling this way and not receiving help eliminatethese feelings. Furthermore, it encourages more social acceptance and socialcohesion. To conclude, suicide is the act of taking one’s own life voluntarilyand intentionally.
1 Immanuel Kant’s principle states that euthanasiawill provide suicidal people, or people that are terminally ill to die withdignity and have freedom over their autonomy. Emile Durkheim’s principle states that suicide is a solitary actand is caused by the detachment from society and the integrated socialexpectations with denial of self-agency. The two ethical solutions that can beproposed to solve the social issue of suicide is that suicidalpeople, their friends and family should have free access to education on mentalhealth and euthanasia and proving access to group therapy and increased social assistance such asgrants for volunteer work or recreational community programs. Although thesesolutions are costly and time consuming they would be successful by acting as apreventative measure and encouraging social acceptance. Suicide is a serioussocial issue that must be handle with utmost importance.