Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Suicide Note (relax, just a pun)

In college, I cooked up a thought experiment that challenged my ideas about liberty.  That is, in a free society, should someone be allowed to open a "suicide store"?  Some people want to end their life but can't pull the trigger or even drink poison.  A suicide store would provide death by some painless means and might even offer other services like planning your funeral or writing your will.  Dr. Kevorkian helps terminally ill people to die in their old age, but the suicide store would be open to all adults.  Presumably it could have opaque ads like the ones now used to advertise antidepressants, and offer a wholesome, comforting environment.

I see no justification for shutting down such an operation, or even requiring a lengthy waiting period.  yet it still leaves me queasy.  I know many people who seriously contemplated suicide in college for a bad grade or a failed relationship, when neither one will be important to the person in a couple of years.  Additionally, the very presence of the store could be depressing and induce more people to think about suicide than otherwise would.

The only justification for banning the practice on strict libertarian grounds is that it would be too easy to fraudulently kill people.  Crooked politicians, mafia types, and other criminals could dispose of enemies by forging some paperwork.  For the same reason, I would wonder about making indentured servitude illegal.

If you think it's okay, how young would you be willing to permit people to partake in the services?  Would there be a waiting period?

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