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Pro-choice Advocacy

Ash texts

A comprehensive, succinct and readable summary of the debate: Part 4 of the ASH FAQ (also known as "The Debate FAQ") is an ongoing attempt to answers arguments claiming that suicide is immoral or irrational.

Essays, covering a range of arguments from a specific point of view:

Finally, we present expanded answers to specific claims:

In the future, this section will include essays which go beyond merely negating claims why suicide is wrong. Rather, they will try to positively establish why it is a good idea to legalize and legitimize suicide. As a first example, the following essay explains how the option of suicide enhances the experience of life.

Euthanasia texts

Although most euthanasia texts specifically limit their arguments to the terminally ill, the Death with dignity FAQ by Rob Neils is very comprehensive and has many sections which may interest ashers as well.

Historic texts

David Hume's essays on suicide and the immortality of the soul is a central text on the philosophical debate, however, it is a difficult read due to the old English in which it is written.

Robert Green Ingersoll has written several articles about suicide. Ingersoll confronts Christian views about suicide, and addresses issues such as suicide and sanity and whether suicide is sinful or cowardly.

Contemporary texts

Lawrence Stevens' Suicide: A Civil Right has numerous references and quotes of people who support the right to die. The focus here is on the attitude of legal jurisdictions and the mental health system and how it should change.

Suicide and assisted suicide, a chapter from Peter McWilliams's book, "Ain't nobody's business if you do" , applies to suicide the central idea of his book: consenting adults should not be put in jail unless they physically harm the person or property of a nonconsenting other.

Tom Flynn's article The Final Freedom, Suicide and the 'New Prohibitionists', published in the "Free Inquiry magazine", applies secular humanism to the issue of suicide. The article supports personal autonomy and self-determination and opposes the reduction of the issue of suicide to brain chemistry.

Personal texts

In contrast to the texts above, the following texts do not try to present a systematic point-by-point explanation of why suicide is a valid option. Instead they present the issue from a personal perspective; reflecting upon events in their own lives.

Tom W Day's Suicide And Reason Is a short emotive text describing thoughts triggered by the suicide of a friend.

"A Confession" by Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy is an autobiography with many references to suicide. Chapter 4 describes how while in the height his success, Tolstoy finds life meaningless and unbearable. In chapter 5, Tolstoy turns to the sciences to find meaning. Chapter 6 explains why the exact sciences fail to provide meaning and how philosophy strengthened his belief that death is better than life (in these chapters Tolstoy is even more extreme than ash since he appears to be pro-suicide, whereas ash is just pro-choice). In Chapter 7 Tolstoy observes how people around him relate to the issue of suicide.

Books (not online)

Szasz, Thomas Stephen, Fatal Freedom: The ethics and politics of suicide. This is an eloquent defense of every individual's right to choose a voluntary death. The author, a renowned psychiatrist, believes that we can speak about suicide calmly and rationally, and that we can accept suicide as part of the human condition. Some online material using suicide as the main example can be found in a transcript of Szasz about The myth of mental illness.

James Werth Jr., Rational Suicide? Implications for Mental Health Professionals: This book operates on three premises: first, that rational suicide is a legitimate option for some individuals; second, that traditional interpretations of mental health, ethical, and legal standards of care do not allow for the possibility of rational suicide and therefore need to be changed; and, lastly, that mental health professionals should consider the possibility that a person who wants to die is rational in this desire and, consequently, needs a set of criteria by which the rationality of this decision can be assessed. The book explores the changing views of suicide over the centuries from being an acceptable option to a sin and a sign of mental illness. Common arguments against rational suicide are examined and rebutted. Data which demonstrates a high degree of acceptance for the concept of rational suicide are presented. There is an extensive examination of the ethical and legal implications of accepting rational suicide as a viable alternative, and suggestions for practice are provided.

John Donnelly (Editor), Suicide : Right or Wrong?: Is suicide ever rationally or morally justified? This collection of essays presents views from both sides of the debate, including Seneca, Aquinas, Hume, Kant, Szasz and Shneidman.

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