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End-of-Life Rights Bolstered By Shifting Public Opinion

In the early 2000s, one of the biggest hot-button issues of our national discourse was euthanasia, the right of terminal patients or their family members to deny life support and other measures that would extend lifespan without preserving a substantial quality of life. It was even widely rumored that the Obama Administration’s overhaul of the national healthcare system, known as Obamacare, would include panels that would decide whether elderly patients would be allowed to continue living, which was an outright falsehood.

Now, the discussion has progressed, and it currently includes arguments in favor of suicide.

The debate does not focus on forms of suicide brought on by negative external factors like bullying and substance abuse, but instead focuses on individuals who have a level-headed view of their situation but who struggle with ongoing adverse conditions like mental illness or particularly painful physical conditions.

The U.S. has continued to see a rise in suicide rates in recent years, especially among young people, as well as a string of high-profile suicides among American celebrities, including that of food writer and TV presenter Anthony Bourdain earlier this year.

Entertainment has also joined in on the conversation, with shows like Netflix’s ‘A Futile and Stupid Gesture,’ which has been criticized for seemingly displaying suicide as a potentially positive choice for some people.

Legal stances are not as important to this issue as is public opinion, and the changing perspective of mainstream America. Most important is the opinion of the families of those with suicidal tendencies. Especially in more conservative communities, these opinions tend to rest on the side of preserving life until natural or otherwise unavoidable causes of death.

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