General Question

toomuchcoffee911's avatar

Why is suicide illegal?

Asked by toomuchcoffee911 (6907 points ) February 25th, 2009

Our whole school was put into lock down because a guy had barricaded himself in his house and was threatening suicide. An extra hour and 18 minutes of time spent in school. But it got me thinking about this question. I’m not saying suicide is good, I’m just wondering.

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31 Answers

basp's avatar

I have never figured out who they would charge with the crime if the person committing it is dead.

toomuchcoffee911's avatar

My guess is the only charge they could give is the family doesn’t get insurance.

elijah's avatar

The reason they lock down your school is to protect you. People who feel at the end of their rope sometimes decide they want to “get back” at the world that harmed them. This might include taking out a few school kids.

btko's avatar

It’s illegal in the sense that it gives the authorities the power to take a suicidal person into custody. It’s not about charging them with a crime, it’s about getting them the help that they need.

LKidKyle1985's avatar

I asked my dad this awhile ago when I was like 13, he is a retired cop. He told me its because yeah it doesn’t make any sense if they are successful in committing suicide you can’t arrest anyone. But most of the time they are not and then you charge them with something because then you have grounds to get them medical help of some sort. Also often times it causes some sort of scene that disturbs the peace and what not. So there are some logical reasons to it.
But i should point out the main reason is to commit them to a hospital and see a doctor.

Dr_C's avatar

The criminal charges involved with suicide only apply to failed attempts… these people endanger lives other than their own on most ocassions… throwing yourself off a building is entirely up to you…. but if you land on someone… bust up a car roof… things like that… someone needs to pay for it…. if the attempt is succesful then obviously the law can’t be applied… suicide is by definitio personal choice, not coerced or aided in any way… therefore no one but the deceased has any liability

wundayatta's avatar

A lot of people who think about suicide are really depressed. I know when I was depressed, what I really wanted, besides feeling better, was love. Only problem was I had love, and I couldn’t feel it. It felt like the pain would never end, and if that was the case, I didn’t want to be like that forever.

I think that everyone who commits suicide is depressed in one way or another. It could be a mental illness; it could be the stock market dropping; it could be the feeling that no one understands you, nor can then. Some people commit suicide, so they say, to get revenge on the folks who haven’t loved them enough.

All these things, on their own, might now lead to suicide, but when you believe it will be like this forever, you want to go, or at least you think about it. I don’t know if anyone who hasn’t felt it can imagine the unrelenting pain that depression is.

Anyway, the thing is, most people do come out of it. The broker figures out how to put his life back together. Love can happen. Mental illness can be treated. Depression can end. As people have said, making it illegal gives you an excuse to get someone help, if they survive. However, it can also create a social pressure for folks to help or keep an eye on those they believe to be a suicide risk.

Darwin's avatar

Actually, suicide itself is not illegal in the United States, Canada or Britain. In European history it was illegal because you were a) taking something only God had a right to take, and b) depriving the King of one of his subjects. Most “suicide is illegal” laws have been taken off the books because they are unenforceable, but some laws remain that prevent surviving family members from profiting in any way from the deceased’s choice.

However, creating a dangerous situation (what if you miss with your gun and hit someone else?) or tying up community resources (such as a herd of cops being paid with taxpayer dollars) or damaging someone else’s property (you try to clean up all that blood!) are all crimes and any can be invoked to put the unsuccessful suicide attempter in protective custody.

Now in many jurisdictions it is illegal to help someone kill themselves. The intentional killing of another human being is murder, whether they want to be killed or not. Since the victim is now dead he/she can’t come back and say “It’s really OK. I wanted to die.”

This is a nice country-by-country summary:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_views_of_suicide

Dog's avatar

I was going to share this link as well- it adds the fact that
in some countries such as Canada the government “owns” a stake in your body.

Makes for interesting reading.

@Darwin- GA!

90s_kid's avatar

It should not be.

fundevogel's avatar

if it wasn’t everyone would do it.

90s_kid's avatar

No, not at all, man. Just the people who do not like life. Actually, I have heard that the world is overpopulated, especially China.

LouisianaGirl's avatar

because you`re taking your own life

chelseababyy's avatar

Because whether you’re killing yourself, or someone else. It’s still a form of murder.

LouisianaGirl's avatar

@chelseababyy i agree good answer!!!

Triiiple's avatar

How could you be charged for it?

Jack79's avatar

this has been asked before, as far as morality was concerned.

Religiously speaking, your body has been a present from God, and therefore does not belong to you. I assume there’s something similar in the Constitution of most countries, especially religious ones. Perhaps your life belongs to your country, and is therefore not yours to take. Or, just like accidents (where you have to pay a fine for causing them), it is illegal because the police have to deal with you instead of all the crimes they have to solve.

Incidentally, even though the value of money you own belongs to you, the notes themselves don’t. And the same goes for passports (they are government property, not yours). Which similarly makes it illegal to burn them. Yes, you are not legally allowed to burn money you own. It’s the same logic

susanc's avatar

@90s kid: Some people think this country’s brand of overpopulation is more significant than that of poorer countries, because each of us uses up a disproportionate amount of resources. But I’m sure you know that.
And I’m sure you weren’t saying suicide might be a good idea for other countries that have big populations. It must be a kind of accident that it sounded that way.

LouisianaGirl's avatar

@Triiiple they shock you back to life and throw you in jail until you suffocate yourself or find another way to commit suicide again then they just let you go. Nah I`m just joking I dont know

Triiiple's avatar

The best joke about that was Seinfeld when he said “How much do you have to suck at life to fail at committing suicide, what would you do after that?”

If im taking myself out, im blowing my head off. Im not trying 2 attempts, i might take that as a sign from God (LOL).

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

What would it say about our society if there was no such law? I think I’d move to a new society.

LouisianaGirl's avatar

But it would be someones luck they try to comit suicide shoot their head and end up surviving and have lots of problems.

Darwin's avatar

@NaturalMineralWater – the problem for you is that suicide is not illegal in the US, Canada or Britain. Where are you going to move?

I believe it is still illegal in Singapore to commit suicide, but they have a lot of other restrictive laws. Among other things, it is illegal to fail to flush toilets after use, litter, jaywalk, sell chewing gum, possess pornography, and carry durians on mass transit. They also can hold you without trial under certain circumstances, and they retain caning as a form of punishment.

What do you think?

Dr_C's avatar

suicide by caning…. not a great way to go

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

@Darwin Actually it is against the law in my state. But law or not.. it doesn’t matter.. I just wish people never reached that point..

Darwin's avatar

@NaturalMineralWater – No, in the United States suicide is NOT illegal. By the early 1990s only two US states still listed suicide as a crime, and these have since removed that classification.

Assisted suicide is illegal in most states. This is a different matter as it is the assistant who goes to jail. Hence Kevorkian’s problems.

Dr_C's avatar

ok… switching the thread from the legality of suicide to anything related with euthanasia could be a sticky situation…. so let’s just say (since a few people have already said it).. that while suicide in and of itself is not illegal, the colateral damage it can cause can get you in legal trouble if you survive, also if you were to survive you can be charged with pretty much anything in order to hold you and avoid an immediate repeat.

To be fair most suicide “attempts” are cries for help… if you REALLY wanted to kill yourself you would do it…

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

@Darwin Trust me, it’s illegal in my state…. lol.. so insistent

Darwin's avatar

@NaturalMineralWater – And what state would that be?

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