Suicide, or chosen self-harm leading to one’s death, is a tragic situation that many families face. While suicide is sad to see, especially with a young person, the question of whether suicide is ethical and permissible is a question that wholly revolves around property rights.
As each person is a self-owner, they have the highest right of claim to their own bodies. Which means that, if a person wishes to end their own life, they have the right to do that in line with the other property rights they have.
A person cannot commit suicide in a manner that violates the property rights of others. This means that one cannot and should not cause harm to others and their property in the process. So, for example, one cannot jump off a ledge onto another’s car or walkway without the owner’s consent, as that would be violative of another’s property rights. One cannot use a subject property that belongs to another without their consent for suicide assistance, as that would also be violative of other’s property rights. For example, jumping off a building one does not own or using a knife that belongs to another, without the owner’s permission, would be unethical acts that could be stopped for violating the property rights of others.
If someone is attempting to commit suicide within their own means and property, then they would have an ethical right to do so.
If someone else attempts to stop another’s suicide performed within their own property rights, they would be in the ethical wrong and may be held accountable. A person who is trying to commit suicide within their property rights, and is being stopped by another, has an ethical right to use defensive force for themselves and cannot be committing a harm in defending themselves from another trying to stop them.
That said, it is likely that a market-social norm would not sustain serious consequences for anyone who violates the body of another in stopping a suicide to the extent it appears to be under a state of mental distress.
What will be up for investigation afterward is whether the person trying to commit suicide still wishes to do so even after being stopped. This clarification would determine the consequences, as the technical victim (the one trying to commit suicide) would be in control of validating whether they wish to excuse or hold accountable the person who tried to stop them.
In this way, market incentives will likely trend toward suicide being performed by a medical professional, as is available in certain countries already under the label of “assisted suicide.”
The reason why assisted suicide will likely be favored in a free market is that it helps delineate between someone who is simply in an unusual emotional state, possibly fueled by drugs or trauma, and someone who is consciously and constantly maintaining a desire to end their life.
Where this becomes especially clear to see is in the cases of those with debilitating, life-threatening diseases and cancers who wish to end their life early and end their suffering.
Those persons are showing a consistent intent to end their lives with overt mechanisms to show consent for the process.
In assisted suicide situations now, those who are about to end their lives typically have an option to abort the procedure by pressing a held button that stops the drug administration process which will end their lives. This helps give an extra opportunity for someone to demonstrate that their consent is being given because they have a direct means to withdraw consent if desired.
A social norm rooted in Libertarian Voluntaryist ethics will voluntarily help those struggling with thoughts of suicide proactively while protecting the rights of those who genuinely wish to end their lives with specific, considered reasons and manifested consent.
For more on the overview of assisted suicide in the current global legal landscape, read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assisted_suicide
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