Globally an estimated one million deaths every year are a result of suicide, which is more than all wars, conflicts, terrorist attacks and homicides combined annually. Over the past century studies have revealed that suicides occur in almost all societies and cultures (Khan and Mian, 2010). Therefore there exists a profound need for understanding this complex phenomenon and the challenging ethical issues for individuals, health care providers, governments and society. For centuries there have been philosophical debates on the act of suicide with no clear answers, due to the complexity of the topic. Mental health care professionals, especially mental health nurses, directly caring for suicidal patients should be aware of their own beliefs as well as the legal and ethical issues associated with caring for suicidal patients. Mental health nurses are encouraged to understand their own and other nurses’ attitudes and responses to suicide. There are two relevant ethical viewpoints regarding suicide: the moralistic and the libertarian perspective.
Discuss two contrasting ethical frameworks or principles.
The moralist perspective takes the position that suicide is unacceptable and that the overriding moral obligation is to protect life and prevent suicide (Cutcliffe and Links, 2008a). Therfore suicide is never considered a rationale option. This perspective is what continues to guide contemporary clinical practice. As a mental health nurse, there is an obligation to intervene and prevent the action of suicide with suicidal patients. There have always existed a vast range of viewpoints and attitudes concerning suicide, but for the most part it has been regarded as morally unacceptable and as such must be prevented, whenever possible. When focusing primarily on physically healthy patients rather than terminally ill individuals, there is the prevalent viewpoint among the general public that suicide is irrational (Cutcliffe and Links, 2008b). This standpoint is evident by the various government and non-governmental programs targeting suicide reduction and prevention. It is recommended that “all health care professionals receive some level of suicide prevent education” (Brunero, Smith, Bates, and Fairbrother, 2008).
In contrast the libertarian views suicide as an individual’s right. This perspective emphasizes the freedom of choice by individuals to determine whether or not they want to live or die. Suicide is considered an “individual’s self-indulgent right to die” as a “reasonable and calculated act to avoid pain” (Cutcliffe and Links, 2008a).
Discuss how each framework or principle would view a person’s act of suicide.
As far back as Plato (427-347BC) and Aristotle (384-322BC), arguments against suicide have existed in several different philosophical thought processes. As with the moralist perspective, Plato’s belief was that suicide was “disgraceful and an offence against society, but recognized four exceptions: the moral...