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Suicide is the act of intentionally taking one’s own life. Because this definition does not specify the outcome of such acts, it is customary to distinguish between fatal suicide and attempted, or nonfatal, suicide.[1] Bridget Ulrich writes:[2]

With suicide rates soaring, is it any wonder that Liberty is seeing a resurrection within America? These rates indicate an underlying necrosis within our society which we must strive to locate, lacerate and extract. . . . . Activism yields rewards that affect both our communities as well as us personally. It is a medium on which we can add sustenance to our spirits in this age of increasing spiritual vexing/draining. . . . . If we as a society wish to address these rigid statistics, we have to address the hard facts that something is toxic within our society. We absolutely must work to help empower people by showing them how empowering it is to be your own person, own your own life, and be your own advocate. By delegating these roles to the government, we've gotten a lax return on our investment and forgotten how to care and advocate for ourselves. The big government wants us to feel meager and insufficient so that we feel we need an omnipotent force to micromanage our daily lives. Help your neighbors remember their intrinsic divinity. Get out and advocate for the Libertarian ideology. It is the basic fuel for a satiated soul.

Views on suicide

Timo Virkkala argued that suicide is (or can be) a tort against others because it constitutes littering with one's body, by abandoning it, if one does it carelessly.[3] Thomas Szasz's book Fatal Freedom defends every individual's right to choose a voluntary death. Peter McWilliams writes, "Our culture's taboo against suicide often keeps people who are thinking about suicide from talking about it. By talking about it, people can often get the emotional and psychological support they need to see them through a rough time. When people are afraid to talk about it, the pressures can increase to the point that they actually do something about it. If suicide itself were not forced to be—by law—such a lonely activity, we might have fewer suicides. Even if we did not, however, there is no reason for laws that make one's last moments painful and lonely."[4] Lysander Spooner wrote, "It is not a crime, even, to assist a person to commit suicide, if he be in possession of his reason. It is a somewhat common idea that suicide is, of itself, conclusive evidence of insanity. But, although it may ordinarily be very strong evidence of insanity, it is by no means conclusive in all cases. Many persons, in undoubted possession of their reason, have committed suicide, to escape the shame of a public exposure for their crimes, or to avoid some other great calamity. Suicide, in these cases, may not have been the highest wisdom, but it certainly was not proof of any lack of reasonable discretion.3 And being within the limits of reasonable discretion, it was no crime for other persons to aid it, either by furnishing the instrument or otherwise."[5]


Virtually all suicide methods have a risk of failure, which in many cases can result in serious injury. For example, gunshot or knife wounds (e.g. to the head or wrist, respectively) can result in permanent brain or nerve damage, respectively. The Peaceful Pill Handbook, by Philip Nitschke and Fiona Stewart, graded several suicide methods by reliability and peacefulness (of primary importance) and availability, preparation, undetectability, speed, safety, and storage (of secondary importance), concluding that what is needed is a "peaceful pill" — that is, a pill or drink that provides a peaceful, pain-free death at a time of a person's individual choosing; a pill that is orally ingested and available to 'most' people.

Many methods were considered, including asphyxiation by means of carbon monoxide (favored by Dr. Jack Kevorkian) or "exit bags" using gases such as nitrogen or helium, which are sometimes recommended by suicide legitimization organizations such as the Final Exit Network. Pentobarbital (not to be confused with the slower-acting phenobarbital), or Nembutal, was identified by Nitschke and Stewart as the best euthanasia drug in existence. However, this particular barbiturate, once widely used as a sleeping pill, has been removed from the prescribing schedules for humans in several countries (such as Australia, in 1998) and is generally only used for veterinary euthanasia.

The most radical pro-euthanasia organizations, such as Exit International, have advocated making pentobarbital available to consumers,[6] especially to those over 50 years of age who do not have a history of mental illness. Some persons seeking to seek pentobarbital on hand as an "insurance policy" in case of a disability that might hinder mobility have had to make trips overseas to obtain pentobarbital under various trade names. Police have raided the homes of some persons affiliated with euthanasia groups who were known to be in possession of the drug.[7] In the United States, pentobarbital is classified as a Schedule II drug by the Controlled Substances Act, and its illegal possession, without intent to distribute, by a person with no prior record of drug offenses is punishable by one year in federal prison, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 844.

Some countries have laws infringing free speech concerning suicide; for example, in 2005 Australia passed a law making it a crime to use a telephone, fax, email or the internet to discuss or research assisted suicide.[8] In Georgia, a law which prohibited the promotion of assisted suicides or the advertising of steps that could be used to achieve it, was ruled unconstitutional because it violated free speech.[9]