A new study has found that during the past 30 years, Americans have grown more accepting of suicide as a morally legitimate option for terminally-ill persons.
The Pacific Standard reports that 46.9% of Americans in the 1980’s approved of suicide for the terminally ill, while 61.4% of Americans in the 2010’s approve of it. The study also showed that the percentage of Americans who deemed it acceptable for someone to commit suicide because he or she was “tired of living” had increased from 13.7% to 19.1% during the same period. Suicide is less acceptable among senior citizens, rural Americans, and conservatives than it is among other Americans, while college-educated Americans and urban Americans are more likely than others to find it acceptable. The article’s author opined that “the long-term trend toward secularization appears to be reducing the stigma of suicide overall.”
To say the least, this shift is problematic. As more Americans come to view suicide as morally acceptable, it stands to reason that more Americans will support the legalization of physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill. While many people who support physician-assisted suicide do so out of compassion for the suffering experienced by terminally-ill persons, that compassion is misguided. Rather than helping terminally-ill persons to end their lives, a compassionate society should offer them care and support. Every human life is valuable, even the life of a person with a terminal illness.