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What are the moral and religious differences, if any, between euthanasia and suicide? Why may these distinctions be important?

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Introduction

What are the moral and religious differences, if any, between euthanasia and suicide? Why may these distinctions be important? The ethical question still remains 'Can it ever be right to kill, even with the intension to relieve suffering?' In general euthanasia means good death. It has become almost exclusively applied to the deliberate ending of life, with the desire to avoid necessary pain by a doctor who thinks that death is of benefit to the patient. Suicide is self-destruction, it is the direct and deliberate taking of one's own life. It is possible that there are moral and religious differences between them, and if so are they really important?, a theory I propose to examine. There are various attitudes toward euthanasia and suicide which have changed over the years in both society and religion. Religiously, the traditional Roman Catholic Church is pro-life; it does not accept either euthanasia or suicide absolutely. This is because it follows the Ten Commandments ' Thou shall not murder'1 and considers suicide and euthanasia as a grave and mortal sin. The chief Christian argument is that one's life is the property of God, and to destroy that life is to wrongly assert dominion over what is God's, therefore euthanasia and suicide is always wrong and cannot be justified in any circumstances. The modern Protestant is pro-choice, they see euthanasia as the 'lesser of two evils' and so it should be judge on its merit. In other words, neither option is ideal, but euthanasia might be a better option than going through the unnecessary suffering and pain. Situation ethics which proclaimed by Fletcher2 can be applied. He states that decision-making should be based upon the circumstances of a particular situation, and not upon fixed Law. The only absolute is Love (Agape Love). ...read more.

Middle

The avoidance of pain is generally the main motive of euthanasia and suicide, typically physical pain in euthanasia and mental pain in suicide. More youngsters are committing suicide, with the recent news in Bridgend and surrounding area. Between Jane 2, 2007 and February 15, 2008 sixteen young people aged 15 to 27 had committed a suicide with unknown reasons. Police maintained that there was 'no evidence' that any of the deaths were linked. However, that the town was at the centre of a suicide 'cluster' appeared undeniable.13 Some people believe that young people have encouraged each other on social networking website. Most victims were members of the Bebo and Facebook, nevertheless no evidence emerged that they had all been encouraged commit suicide on the internet. Internet networking sites are said to be creating a 'cult of immortality'14 and among young people with the current news on the 'predators telling children how to kill themselves on the internet'15 and the deaths of young people in Bridgend. Although the reasons for young people to committee a suicide are debatable, nonetheless from either the religious or moral point of view none of the deaths are acceptable. This is because life should not be taken 'randomly' with no reason, as life is sacred. Perhaps the moral issue here lies within society. Teenagers are easily influenced and so could be taken in by internet chat rooms. Could it be that the 'traditional family' set up is so changed that teenagers prefer to talk to a machine rather than their parents. A really desperate youngster would do better to talk to the Samaritans rather than Facebook, but is this just a question of choice or lack of guidance? ...read more.

Conclusion

Besides if God is a forgiving God as we are told, in the Bible it says "Take courage my son, your sins are forgiven."27, a believer may still find a place with God in the after life. People should be caution in making any moral judgement about anyone so predisposed as to want to take their own lives that does not even affect you. This is because it is difficult to know what is actually morally right or wrong and morals cannot be derived from nature as David Hume 28 has suggested. Euthanasia and suicide are based upon moral and religious beliefs that are sometimes impossible to be logical about as, these arguments are related to cultural values and practise. But, they can change over time, so some practices that were considered barbaric before, are now accept. It has become more difficult to set out moral principles to guide people in the position or right direction (more active Samaritans) because much of society struggles to find its 'moral compass' Although the 'dominance' of the church has been criticised in the past it did create a stability effect when considering moral issues. Without this influence one might ask where such 'moral guidance' may be found (surely not on the internet). Even so society should show compassion to others even if their decisions were not morally or religiously sound. In general the moral and religious distinctions between suicide and euthanasia are not important simply because it is a very personal matter, we cannot control people's minds and actions surely that person has considered enough to come to the decision. It is their life, for certain they would not play any jokes on it, once you are dead, and there is no going back. It is easy to write the rules down, but it is extremely difficult to apply to the reality in different situations. ...read more.

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