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Suicide is the act of ending one's own life. It is literally called as self killing. As a matter of fact, this act is considered a very complex work particularly with regard to the reasons. However, there are a many different reasons which can lead people to commit suicide. Nowadays, suicide has become an important subject all over the world. That not only because it is a dangerous phenomenon which has an unfavourable effect on any society, but also because of the dramatic increase in the number of people who died as a result of suicide. Over the past ten to twenty years a big issue has been made over a person’s right to commit suicide or not. The American courts have had to deal with everything from assisted suicides to planned suicides. Also they had to deal with whether the constitution gives the American people the right to take their own lives or whether it says they have the power to allow someone else to take their lives. They have had to determine in some cases whether it was done for a reason such as insurance fraud.
Euthanasia or assisted suicide is a very sensitive topic of today’s world. With the medical technology of today, it is possible to keep a person alive even if brain dead by the use of life support machines and other life sustaining equipment. The debate is that when a person is at a dead end, either in a coma or having been diagnosed with a terminal disease that ends in death, should that person be able to have the right to choose to die by an assisted suicide.
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There are mainly two reasons for people to commit suicide. One is if the patient is in an advanced terminal illness that is causing unbearable suffering to the individual. This is the most common reason to look for an early end. The other is if the person suffers from a grave physical handicap which is so restricting that the individual cannot tolerate such a limited existence. This is a fairly rare reason for suicide. Usually a person will either have in his/her living that in case they are unable to care or think for themselves that their closest relatives or spouse are to decide what is the best thing for him/her. Also a person cannot choose to end their life at the first diagnosis of a terminal disease. The person must seek treatment for the illness and show that medical help has been sought to cure or at least slow down the life-ending disease. Euthanasia should involve the whole family and relatives of the individual, it should not be done alone. There are some critics of euthanasia that a person should die when God says so. In this critiscm it is pointed out that God is a loving and caring being that would not want to see you in any pain and that he would not deny you entry into the gates of heaven if you came early to avoid pain and suffering. It is also said that a person under care of a hospice company can live out their last months in comfort and peace. This is not always true since in most cases near the last weeks of a persons life he/she is so drugged out by injections that they are unconscious. I doubt that is how most people would like to spend their last precious time on earth.
Public opinion for euthanasia and doctor assisted suicide has always been mixed. People are starting to see the advantages of euthanasia. General public believes that case of great pain and suffering deserve the right to choose euthanasia as an option to stop the pain. Most of the people believed that choice should be given to the patient. On the other case, there is a person who has an incurable disease that is not immediately life-threatening but causes that person to experience great suffering. The people who answered no may be thinking of treatment that has not been tried yet or treatment that may come in the future due to new technologies. During the last 20 years, technological advancement has increased more. People that have the no opinion on euthanasia may be thinking that the person may be saved by a sudden medical advancement. It would be terrible for a member of your family to take a dose of drugs given to them by a doctor. And next day, you will read from the magazines that a cure had been found a few days before. That will definitely make all people who are involved in such decision to be regret and sorrowful.
“In a study of suicide research in China, there are eight alteration of suicide behaviors which are, high depression symptom score, previous suicide attempt, acute stress at time of death, low quality of life, high chronic stress, sever interpersonal conflict in the two days before death, a blood relative with previous suicidal behavior and a friend or associate with previous suicidal behavior.” (Source 3). In this research, sex, age and location of residence were also the determinants of suicidal behavior.
While people are suffering from pains for many reasons and approaching to commit suicide, the other group of people are fighting against the illnesses and trying to find ways to live. There are patients who are spending their time in a hospice and in an oncological unit. They spent their times with nurses, relatives or friends and health care professionals. In the ‘Journal of Advanced Nursing by B. Rasmussen’, there is a study on how patients spend their time in a hospice and in an oncological unit. Patients in a hospice and oncological unit were monitored day and night. About 6000 observations of patient activities were recorded. The findings show that terminally ill people were less alone, spending much of their time with their relatives. People who are in oncological unit were very lonely. Hospice patients spent an average of 128 minutes during the day and 58 minutes at night with nurses. Most patients needed help with their daily activities. So two third of the time, patients and nurses spend together in a day. These people spent very less time with other health care professionals. They mostly talk with the physicians and very seldom with priest, kitchen personnel and volunteers. People in hospice were with relatives on average 5 hours during the day and 2 hours during the night. During the day relatives are helping patient with their physical needs such as transfer and assisting with food and drink. Some of them also assist for hygiene and toileting. The oncological patients spend their time with nurses half of the hospice ones. Nearly half of nurses and patients together spend an activities related to the cure such as medication, chemoteraphy and treatment. The study shows the importance of increasing our understanding of the use of time. Patients spend most of their time alone, especially in the oncological unit which is patients may not be physically alone in sharing a room, but they are not interacting. Hospice patients spend their time mostly in the room sleeping or resting.
Hospice care allows people the chance to spend the end of their lives at home or in a home-like setting. This type of care offers an approach to end of life care. Patients get professional medical care and pain relief. The aim is to ensure patients a "good death" or a comfortable death. The reality is, we can't escape death but we can come to terms with it. Hospice is not about giving up on life. It is about empowering people.
Hospice care is available to anyone who has a limited life expectancy regardless of age or type of illness. Most hospice patients are cancer patients, although many have chronic cardiac or neurologic conditions. Although most hospice care is provided in homes, it is also available for patients in nursing homes. A lot of time is spent talking with patients. Hospice care isn't just for patients, it is for the entire family. A social worker can help families sort out family issues, such as getting them to think about funeral arrangements if they haven't done so. Hospice care also offers support groups to help families through their bereavement after the death of a loved one. AIDS patients, women dying of breast cancer and minorities are to be underserved by hospice care. Some don't choose it because they are relatively young and they want to continue fighting or continue on potentially curative chemotherapy until the end.Young mothers with breast cancer, for instance, want to live as long as possible so that they can be here for their children. They may believe that the only way they can is to pursue aggressive medical intervention, even if it makes them terribly sick and even nonfunctional. For some, hospice care is a culturally sensitive issue. The mention of death is often taboo. Families may want their loved ones to have the services of hospice, but they don't want them to be told they are dying.
Hospice care is appropriate when the following conditions are met:
The physican thinks that the patient will live 6 months or less if the disease runs its normal course;
The patient, family and physician agree and understand that the focus of care is on pain control, not cure.
Because most people say they want to live their final months of life in the comfort of their own home, free of unnecessary pain, with their loved ones. But they want someone to coordinate doctor appointments, visiting nurses, spiritual support, insurance payments, home-care needs, etc. Hospice provides all of those services. Hospice believes that no one should die alone in a hospital if they prefer to live out their lives at home with their loved ones nearby. No one should be in pain, when it is possible to have pain controlled. No family should be at a loss when it comes to knowing how to care for a loved one in their final months. No one should be without support and comfort when they are grieving the loss of a loved one.
It concludes that everyone who is suffering from a terminal illness has right to be free from pain and to die with dignity. We can all hope for greater discoveries and more effective means but these people cry out for an end to their condition now. We all believe that we should show compassion and respect for their dignity at the same time. People need to know how to suffer in order to go on living and respecting that life that God gave. On the other hand, people who are struggling to live although they are terminally ill need to get respect and support as well. The time concept between these groups differs from each other. While some people are spending their time in hospice or in oncological units with their hope to get cure out of them, others are spending their time for thinking of ending their life without noticing the importance of life.
1. Mesler.Mark A., Miller.Pamela J. Hospice and assisted suicide:The structure and process of an inherent dilemma.Death Studies;Mar2000, Vl.24 Issue 2,p135,21p
2. Rasmussen, Birgit H;Sandman; Rasmussen, Birgit H..Journel f Advanced Nursing,Oct98,Vol.28 Issue 4, p818, 11p; How patients spend their time in a hospice and in an oncological unit.
3. Philips,Michael R, Gonghuan Yang, Yanping Zhang, Lijun Wang, Huiyu Ji, Maigeng Zhou, Lancet,Vol.360, Issue 9347 Risk factors for suicide in China: a national case-control psychological autopsy study.
4. Nussbaum, Martha C. Capabilities and Human Rights. Fordham Law Review: 1997. (pgs. 212-241,The Philosophy of Human Rights)
1. Humphrey, Derek. “Assisted Suicide Laws around the World.”(2004) 24 November.
2. Bioethics Page. University of Washington. October, 2001. 12 December 2004
3. Earll, Carrie Gordon. “The Dutch Disaster.” Citizen Link. (2003) 23 September.