There are 5 US states that allow a person who is suffering physical pain to end their lives at the time that they choose. They receive a lethal dose of a medication that they can take when the joy of living is overshadowed by their body's suffering.
I read the story of Brittany Maynard, Whose entire family moved to Oregon to take advantage of the legality of Doctor assisted suicide there. You can read about it here:
washigton post article
There are some side issues that are worth exploring. For one, there are the problems that have cropped up with our Capitol punishment. Manufacturers of drugs do not want their brand used for executions, so we have been torturing convicts slowly to death while the families of the victims watch in horror. there are several ways to fix this, but they require an open mind. For one, they could be put into the same legal category as Brittany, and issued a similar dose to take within a certain time window to avoid an hour of choking to death in front of strangers. The popularity of assisted suicide suggests that some people are more comfortable choosing their own time, instead of experiencing a long, painful, and undignified decline.
Heroine could also be used, and the inmates who chose that somewhat attractive method could work themselves up to a lethal dose within a given time limit. Death row would be quite a different place in that case, with inmates issued syringes and seized drugs of known purity. I sure don't mind if they have a little bit of pleasure during their punishment, instead of the horror that we have been reading about in the media.
If they persisted in getting high without a lethal OverDose, they could then be compelled in the normal way.
There are inmates that maintain their innocence, and hope for a pardon until the last moment. But, there are convicts who do not relish the years of waiting in a cage. Aside from ridiculous religious arguments, there is no reason to require such persons to suffer like that. Waiting for some officers to strap them down, and inject a non lethal dose of the incorrect drug into them is most likely more cruel than allowing the guilty party to choose the time in a somewhat dignified way. I can only imagine that it would save the executioners some stress and mental illness as well.
Another issue is mental anguish. One can not [at present] be assisted in their suicide efforts while suffering purely mental anguish. There is every chance that such suffering will end. The mood could lift, or the unpleasant situation could end. There is some question whether a mentally anguished person is qualified to judge when to quit this realm. In any case, it is not a terminal physical illness. Perhaps normal aging could be considered a terminal illness, and a person who is elderly might prefer to move on instead of living a life that is no longer rewarding.
There is the question 'is mental pain real'? To this I would reply that all pain is mental, whether it be caused by nerves signaling the brain, or, is born within the brain. There is the issue of the 'loved ones' of the sufferer, who sometimes feel that there is no reason at all for the unhappy human to depart before the heart stops of it's own accord. These questions can be debated legally and morally, but i would simply point out some practical matters.
People do commit suicide. Sadly, sometimes they take others with them, as in the case of suicide bombers, and those that drive into things with their car. Males often do it with a pistol, and i imagine that this is not pleasant for the loved ones. Sometimes it does not work, leaving the person worse off then they were before. When you think of the methods, you realize that many of them do injure others mentally or physically.
there is no up side to keeping suicide illegal, or refusing to assist those that have certainly decided on the act. Why force a suicidal person to commit a crime? does that seem like a great deterrent to one who will soon be dead anyway? Helping the depressed person to plan it out provides a chance for counseling, and an opportunity for the loved ones to have their say. It is easy to trot out faith based answers to this, and of course, they do not have to make any sense.
But, practically speaking, is there any real reason to force people who are qualified to make the decision perform the act in secrecy and utter isolation? I can think of one, and it is similar to the last minute pardon argument for assisting capitol punishment. Unassisted Illegal Suicide is hit and miss. The man might jerk the pistol at the last moment, and the woman might take the wrong number of pills or be discovered in time. If they have not converted themselves into a vegetable, they could go on to solve their issues and live a great life.
This leads directly to thoughts of the fake suicides, that are really cries for help. Legalizing suicide for the general public would at least remove the ambiguity. Folks who are committed, [and have already received professional help] could just take the pill, surrounded by loved ones if desired. All others would immediately be seen as showy cries for attention or help. It is possible that the number would decline, and that more people would receive the help and attention that they need without the fake attempt. This would eliminate some of the fake attempts that prove successful.
Again, here are some of the benefits of legalizing suicide:
A reduction in second hand deaths or permanent mental damage to witnesses of messy suicides.
A reduction in population, with the people who do not wish to stay here being allowed to depart legally.
A more pleasant experience for the dissatisfied person.
A better experience for those that would like a chance to discourage the act, or would like to offer support during the last moments.
a possible reduction in the number of suicides by reducing the number of fake suicides that succeed.
another possible reduction in numbers from the approval process, where a trained professional would caution against spur of the moment decisions, and offer other solutions.
I would offer this final thought experiment: In many parts of the US, a competent person may carry a deadly weapon, and use it when their life is being threatened. So, it seems that this person knows [at a moments notice] when to kill another person. Can they not be trusted to figure out when they would like to kill their own person, and leave this very crowded planet? Is a carefully premeditated killing of ones self not within the rights of that same person? The question is asked without reference to a person's religion. Our laws are not made to conform to the dogma of a particular religion. They are intended to form the boundaries of what a human may do and may not do within the border.