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Nick Kraynyk

Professor P. R. Franco
Intro to Philosophy
October 2 2014

Todays society is safer, more educated and more interconnected than ever before. We live in a
time where better yourself and applying yourself at a global scale is necessary which is a blessing and a
burden. We also live in a point in time where dying from war or violence is the lowest in human history
but with this new safety and global scale we have a new set of problems. All around the world people
feel forced to go to college, people feel depressed by feeling as if they should have direction and a
career and feel depressed that they might be left out of social groups and activities. According to the
American Public Health Association 6 students out of 100,000 will take their own life, while a much
more advertised and demonized issue such as alcohol poising and violence accounts for only 1.5 deaths
per 100,00 students. Suicide is the leading cause of death for students and a very real issue for adults
but we do not attack the problem as we would with alcohol and drugs and this leaves a lot of people
wondering why. The issue we are facing has not made it to mainstream and is still subject to prejudices
and personal opinions and this creates a blockade to explore true issues and alert the world of the issue
teenagers and college students face. In this essay I will examine if suicide is morally and ethically
justified by providing multiple situations and outcomes as well as prejudices towards depression and
suicidal tenancies.
Most people have a very simple logic when it comes to suicide and it will go something like
this:
Killing is Wrong
Killing can not be morally justified

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Suicide is killing
Suicide is not morally justified
This is a very valid argument and should be understood and related too. It is true killing is
wrong in almost every case from murder of prisoners to the death penalty there really is no moral
justification to the actions the person committed. Obviously suicide involves killing but I do not believe
it is the same as murder or drunk driving, it is a selfish action one takes on themselves and I believe a
new argument should be formed such as:
Killing others is wrong
Killing another human cannot be morally justified
Suicide is killing yourself
Suicide can be morally justified
This argument is what I feel is closer to reality because robbing someone else of life is
unjustifiable but robbing yourself is a new issue we must face, understand and make steps towards
fixing. Society however does not see depression as a mental illness and does not treat it as such which
means most people who are depressed and have these issues either go ignored or their problems are
downplayed and not understood. To most people depression is seen as just being sad about something,
which means you can just get happy again by going out and exercising or by hanging out with friends
or some simple solution when the truth is much different.
The first thing I would like to talk about is the local suicide problem at Westminster College. I
am now in my fourth year here and every year I have been here someone has committed suicide. I did
not know the man who died freshman year, although my friends did, but sophomore year my roommate
Ethan Marks took his life in September 2012, then junior year Sam Gambrell a friend of mine
committed suicide as well. This is why I chose this topic and write about it for many classes because I
have seen the build up, the depression, the loss of ability to rationalize and the outcome of the situation.

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But the question of this essay is was their actions moral and ethical. Well my roommate Ethan I spent
every day with I knew his family he knew mine and we were good friends. Everyone always says after
someone dies that they were the most energetic and outgoing and driven person there was and I will say
the same thing about him. In his last weeks thought I noticed changes he would be much more stressed
out about small things and I would have to be the rational mind when usually it was the other way
around. In the last conversation I ever had with him he was a different person he hated school and hated
his life situation and I explained he had the ability to leave at any point and find something new. During
this conversation he was not thinking rationally and I believe his actions can not be held to the standard
or someone in their rational mind. In those last days he had tunnel vision he only saw suicide has his
escape he was not able to process and a different solution. What I am trying to illustrate here is the fact
he was not in a rational mind when taking that action and in criminal court that could argued as mental
incompetence. So lets use the criminal court system as an example they define mental incompetence as
A person who is diagnosed as being mentally ill,senile, or suffering from some other debility that
prevents them from managing his own affairs maybe declared mentally incompetent by a court of law.
So we have his diagnoses with depression a few weeks before he committed suicide which would
qualify as a mental illness. So now the question is with severe depression diagnoses and medication
being taken would his actions be taken to court, and I do not think they would be. The question I have
raised here is if someone is out of their normal state of mind can their action be judged morally.
Religion also creates a massive roadblock to society and implants opinions into peoples heads.
So most of America being the christian nation it wants to be sees suicide as wrong and unjustifiable
because god said it should not be done. This mentally has leaked into mainstream ideas and is basically
the reason we are questioning someones choices. So we see depression as the devil and suicide as a
ticket to hell which means the christian church with all their being thinks suicide is unethical. Because
the church has taken this stance so have the followers and this prevents issues from becoming

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mainstream and solved.
Another issue to explore is the idea of physician-assisted suicide the choice for someone to end
their own life if they are suffering through painless and calm measures. Four states have legalized this
method of suicide and actually allow this practice to be carried out. This method of suicide is the
extreme side of the ethical argument because these people suffering from illness or disease are
suffering and it can be argued it is much more unethical to force them to suffer over letting them die in
a more peaceful way. This practice is obliviously heavy regulated and enforced, any small sign of
incompetence by the patient can result in murder charge towards the doctor so only about 15% of
applicants are able to receive the drugs and education. This practice although is plagued by its own
moral and ethical arguments such as the doctors moral code to assist in healing patients. But some
argue that if a doctor is present and assisting in birth they should also be able to assist in death. The
topic is split and like all the other issues relating to suicide comes down to personal opinion. For
example in a study the doctors were presented the case of an elderly man who was suffering from
cancer and wanted physician-assisted suicide only 11 out of the 72 countries polled agreed it could be
morally justifiable to allow his suicide. This raises the question though if someone has asked and is
suffering and willing to end his own life is suicide justified and morally acceptable.
There are selfish ways to commit suicide that are morally unjustified and one example of this is
suicide by cop. Someone may commit a crime or run from the police and pull a weapon only to be shot
and killed by the cops. This is a much different situation than physician-assisted or shooting yourself
because you are bringing in a third party and differs from physician-assisted because the police have no
motive and do not want to have to shot someone. By committing suicide this way someone is putting
other people in danger and causing someone to pull a trigger end a life and be affected by it for the rest
of their life. This is a very unethical way to handle the situation because you are affecting people that
did not need to be in danger and affected by your death.

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We come to our own conclusion eventually after searching all these different ways and different
thoughts about suicide and we see society as followed suit. In my study and experiences I believe
suicide can be morally justified but the way it is carried out and the intentions are the determining
factor this this issue. We have the unjust side of suicide by cop or mass murder with the intention of
suicide such as columbine while we have the debatable moral act of physician-assisted suicide of a
suffering person from incurable and painful conditions. We also have the middle ground which is what
I have experienced and seen in my life which is the depressed mentally ill and depressed person who
comes to a narrow conclusion suicide is their only way out. When they are in this state of mind they are
not worried about how others will react as much as they are worried about their own suffering which
does not allow them to think of moral arguments against their act which leaves us to debate the choices
and why they took the most extreme of actions. As I mentioned before this question of Can suicide
ever be ethically justifiable? comes down to a simple answer and that is what is your opinion on the
subject. In this case I feel as if my opinion can be a valid point in this essay and should be expressed.
The fact is I went to that funeral I saw my friend dead and I mourned him and consoled his family and
friends since I was one of the last people to see and talk to him. Even with all this, all these people
affected and all this anger and questioning I feel like his actions were ethical. Now he, and other people
in this situation, have a million other options to explore before suicide and that is the thought people
who think suicide is wrong will explain and push onto you. The fact is thought he felt he was in pain
his only option was the action he took and there is no way around that, sure his action was selfish and
caused other people some emotional harm but in the end you need to do what will work.
Coming back to the argument we revised above I believe we can revise it one more time to
come to a final conclusion and the final argument should be phrased this way:
Killing others is wrong
Endangering others is wrong

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Forcing someone to suffer for incurable reasons is wrong
Suicide is killing yourself
Suicide stops suffering
Suicide is ethically justifiable
This is the argument I will use to explain why I believe suicide can be ethically justified. If we
need to relieve suffering without the expense of harming others then that action should be taken.
Personal opinions should not matter when someone is suffering and needs a solution. We also must
understand that suicide should be the absolute last option to end suffering and not one of the first
moves someone will take. If we treat suicide has something that has happened because of lack of
choices and the extreme amount of suffering someone is facing then we can contain it and maybe
someday we able to prevent it. Until then though depression will be seen as just being sad and suicide
will be seen as a selfish action and therefor considered unethical.