Whose Life is it Anyway? An Exploration of Five Contemporary Ethical Issues that Pertain to the Psychiatric Nursing Care of the Person who is Suicidal: Part One

Document Type


Publication Date



It is self-evident that ethical issues are important topics for consideration for those involved in the care of the person who is suicidal. Nevertheless, despite the obvious relationship between Mental Health nurses and care of the person who is suicidal, such nurses have hitherto been mostly silent on these matters. As a result, this two-part paper focuses on a number of contemporary issues which might help inform the ethical discourse and resultant Mental Health nursing care of the person who is suicidal. Part one of this paper focuses on the issues: Whose life is it anyway? Harming of our bodies and the inconsistency in ethical responses and, Is suicide ever a reasonable thing to do? The authors find that this contemporary view within the suicidology academe and the corresponding legal position in most western (developed) countries is that the individual owns his/her own body. Yet given that contemporary mental healthcare policy and associated practice positions do not reflect view, this can easily lead to the scenario where a Mental Health nurse is faced with a major ethical dilemma, and the corresponding probability of moral distress. The authors also find that it is inaccurate to posit a simple positive correlation between the potential seriousness and/or extent of bodily harm and the degree of paternalistic removal of an individual's rights to personal body ownership. Lastly, the authors find that the relevant theoretical and ethical literature in this area suggests, at least for some and under certain conditions, suicide can be the right thing to do.


To acquire a personal use copy of this work, contact John Cutcliffe at john.cutcliffe@wright.edu.



Find in your library

Off-Campus WSU Users