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Old December 16th, 2009, 02:42 PM   #1
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The state and self-harm

Many states currently have laws against people causing harm to themselves- from using drugs to committing suicide. How is that just? Every human should have the right to do what he/she does with himself. I understand laws protecting the harm of others, but what about the harm of one's self? A just state really has no right to tell people not to harm themselves.
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Old December 16th, 2009, 03:11 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Aristotle View Post
Many states currently have laws against people causing harm to themselves- from using drugs to committing suicide. How is that just? Every human should have the right to do what he/she does with himself. I understand laws protecting the harm of others, but what about the harm of one's self? A just state really has no right to tell people not to harm themselves.
I agree. I should have the right to go if and when I want to go. I have had an "emergency" plan for years.
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Old December 17th, 2009, 07:45 AM   #3
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These are my thoughts as well. The state has no right to legislate what individuals should and should not do to themselves.
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Old December 17th, 2009, 10:07 AM   #4
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These are my thoughts as well. The state has no right to legislate what individuals should and should not do to themselves.
In my opinion the only time the state should step in is when people do "reckless" things that put others in danger. If you want to climb snowy mountains or canoe in rushing flood waters they need to just let your butt go. No good reason to get good people killed to save you.
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Old December 17th, 2009, 11:56 AM   #5
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As long as it doesn't harm others, it should be fine. I completely agree with that- it is very in line with J.S. Mill's harm principle.
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Old December 17th, 2009, 05:01 PM   #6
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As long as it doesn't harm others, it should be fine. I completely agree with that- it is very in line with J.S. Mill's harm principle.
That's right there is absolutely no reason for the state to be involved in a person decides to kill them selfs, I even believe that it's okay for a person to request help from another.
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Old December 19th, 2009, 08:56 AM   #7
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That's right there is absolutely no reason for the state to be involved in a person decides to kill them selfs, I even believe that it's okay for a person to request help from another.
[FONT=Courier New]Attempted suicide that results in a trip to the ER, a stay in the hospital or a psychiatric evaluation consumes medical resources so that the cost of healthcare for others goes up.
[FONT=Courier New]
[FONT=Courier New]A successful suicide leads to a death that the police and coroner must investigate to ascertain that no murder has been committed.
[FONT=Courier New]
[FONT=Courier New]Either way harm is caused to society because society?s resources have been consumed for no good reason.
[FONT=Courier New]
[FONT=Courier New]The same pretty much goes things like drug use, adultery, prostitutes and sleeping around in general.
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Old December 19th, 2009, 09:36 AM   #8
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[FONT=Courier New]Either way harm is caused to society because society’s resources have been consumed for no good reason.

[FONT=Courier New]The same pretty much goes things like drug use, adultery, prostitutes and sleeping around in general.
I recently read SuperFreakonomics, a great book by Stephen Dubner and Steven Lewitt in which they looked at statistics of prostitution within Chicago from before it was illegalized to now. Their study came to some stunning conclusions including: prostitution levels were roughly the same from then and now (percentage wise), a lot of the police actually didn't catch prostitutes and pimps on purpose because doing so would only cause violence to take over that pimp or prostitute's marketshare, the demand for prostitution was roughly the same between the two periods, and shockingly, within Chicago it was more likely that a cop purchased a prostitute than arrested her.

In the end, people do what they want- it is the demand side of the market and no government can every squash that. Look at the war on drugs, the American prohibition of alcohol in early 1900s, etc. Making these things illegal doesn't reduce the demand for them and it only raises government costs and in turns hurts the taxpayers through bureaucratic costs and the criminalization costs of prohibition (the extra police forces needed, more jail space needed, more criminal records, etc.) If these things were legalized, you would not have those costs.

You mentioned other costs such as the need for a police investigations, but if these things were legalized you would only need that investigation when people died or caused harm to others because of the drugs or whatever. The thing is, if the same amount of people are doing the drugs (or prostitution, etc.) today, then your cost on that front is likely to be the same or maybe even lower as people could do those things in a safer, above ground market. Even if a little more do these things when legalized, the cost of criminalization heavily outweighs that little amount.

Perhaps more importantly than even the cost issue is the question as to what even gives the state the right to tell a rational being that he can or can not do something that only hurts himself. If the being has consented to that state through an oath or something, that is another issue, but tacit consent really doesn't fly in this area because most probably the person doing the illegal activity believes it shouldn't be illegal for him/her anyway. So what gives the state the right in this circumstance? It is not all-knowing and it really has no authority- when it tries to do something it is simply coercion.
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Old December 21st, 2009, 11:10 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Aristotle View Post
Many states currently have laws against people causing harm to themselves- from using drugs to committing suicide. How is that just? Every human should have the right to do what he/she does with himself. I understand laws protecting the harm of others, but what about the harm of one's self? A just state really has no right to tell people not to harm themselves.
Agreed. Although in certain cases, such as minors and adolescents, it can really be very sad. I doubt however State interference will help, and may just create additional problems that families have already got to contend with when the suicides have been unsuccessful or unintentionally spontaneous in the heat of the moment.
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Old December 25th, 2009, 11:14 AM   #10
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Agreed. Although in certain cases, such as minors and adolescents, it can really be very sad. I doubt however State interference will help, and may just create additional problems that families have already got to contend with when the suicides have been unsuccessful or unintentionally spontaneous in the heat of the moment.
I agree.

I also think it's awful that suicide is still a crime. Surely if someone wants to end it, that's their decision, not that of the state?
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Old December 27th, 2009, 09:41 AM   #11
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Suicide shouldn't be a crime, simply because if someone fails at committing suicide, and they are jailed, they'll just try even more because they are being punished for it.
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Old December 27th, 2009, 08:02 PM   #12
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I do wonder why people contemplate suicide, sometimes. My life is boring, but i immerse myself in politics and writing, i don't impale myself on something sharp. I mean, they must have good reason. (At least to them)
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Old December 28th, 2009, 09:43 AM   #13
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I feel this way:

"Suicide is not chosen; it happens
when pain exceeds
resources for coping with pain."

I have had this stuck up in several places for years. I would have been gone years ago, but I don't want my wife in a nursing home and my dogs in a pound. If I die both will happen quickly.
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Old December 28th, 2009, 10:52 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by DodgeFB View Post
"Suicide is not chosen; it happens
when pain exceeds
resources for coping with pain."
Yes, that would make sense. And as individuals, we all have different breaking points...

Also, i suppose it'd be more difficult for someone wealthy that suddenly becomes poor, as opposed to someone who's lived in relative poverty all their lives (like me, for example).
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Old January 5th, 2010, 10:35 PM   #15
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Whenever I get to a point like that, I cannot help but think that committing suicide would be the worst form of "flunking" and that there is a great likelihood that I will be punished for it. This probably has to do with my Calvinist upbringing? There are of course different degrees of suicide. There are ones that have to do with terminal illness, and when patients are kept alive on machines, and even then I am worried that there could have been a miracle and that the medical profession is not always an expert about life's miracles, and then there is suicide out of desperation and feelings of hopelessness. In the latter a suicide like that becomes part of society and affects society. I.e. when a teen commits suicide, it has a definite affect on other teens who may think this is a good "out" for coping with their problems. The latter should not be allowed to happen, and is probably the saddest of all. Adult suicide for the same reasons is also sad.
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Old January 6th, 2010, 06:54 AM   #16
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Old January 7th, 2010, 04:47 PM   #17
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Nice show, but it does not make sense to me. If killing another human being is a sin and punishable by law, how could suicide of the planned variety of a very healthy individual be innocent? If it is OK to kill ourselves, then it should be OK to kill other people too?
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Old January 15th, 2010, 09:03 PM   #18
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I think it has more to do with the fact that people who want to kill themselves aren't often in a healthy frame of mind, and therefore its our duty to look out for them. Most of the time, after treatment, those people are grateful to those who helped save them.

It's a selfish act to kill oneself, it DOES hurt others- it gives your family emotional pain, even to the point where they might never recover, and if you believe that hurting others is reason enough for someone else to intervene then the emotional pain you would give to people in your life because of suicide & self-harm qualifies. Doesn't it
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Old January 15th, 2010, 09:08 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by WanderingStar View Post
I think it has more to do with the fact that people who want to kill themselves aren't often in a healthy frame of mind, and therefore its our duty to look out for them. Most of the time, after treatment, those people are grateful to those who helped save them.

It's a selfish act to kill oneself, it DOES hurt others- it gives your family emotional pain, even to the point where they might never recover, and if you believe that hurting others is reason enough for someone else to intervene then the emotional pain you would give to people in your life because of suicide & self-harm qualifies. Doesn't it
The last thing I would want is someone "looking out" or "saving me". That would be my decision and I would never want some do-good-er meddling in something they don't understand.
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Old January 15th, 2010, 09:17 PM   #20
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I agree. I should have the right to go if and when I want to go. I have had an "emergency" plan for years.
You quoted the OP and said 'I agree.' The OP said they understand about stepping in if an act HURTS other people. Suicide HURTS other people- you already AGREED with the OP's statements about that- so how can you now say that you don't want some dogooder stepping in? Either you agree that harming others is a reason for people to step in or you don't.

The act of harming oneself harms those around them.
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