Is Suicide Really Illegal in Texas?
Talking about how humans can orchestrate death continues to be a taboo topic in our society. However, it’s a topic we can’t avoid. Discussions go back and forth about whether someone who is suffering has the right to end their life and whether others have the right to lend them a hand in doing so.
The most common argument against assisted suicide in most cases is based on the premise that all life is sacred. Thus, it’s not our place to judge someone’s quality of life or whether they live or die. On the other hand, if we’re allowing someone to stay a victim of immense suffering, aren’t we somehow morally responsible for their suffering? And if we are responsible, shouldn’t we spare them that cruel existence by assisting their suicide?
Still, there’s no universal solution to this ethical dilemma, nor has there been a universal consensus regarding suicide and assisted suicide in the USA. While suicide is no longer considered a crime, some states have made attempts to relist it as a crime in their criminal statutes.
At the same time, assisted suicide is considered a criminal offense in the USA, with some states making an exception to this rule for physician-assisted suicide in cases of life-limiting illnesses. However, what’s the deal with Texas?
If you wish to find out if suicide is illegal in Texas and how it can impact you, read on to find out more about this controversial topic.
What Is the Current Texas Law About Suicide?
In the past, several states in the USA have listed acts of suicide as a felony which implies that the person attempting suicide could be considered a felon or a convicted felon. Given that a felony is the most serious class of crimes, a person whose suicide results in survival would spend a certain amount of time in prison as part of their punishment under the law.
In the late 1960s, the law was amended, and suicide and suicide attempts in most states would no longer be regarded as a felony. So, is attempting suicide illegal in Texas? The answer is no, and, by analogy, the same applies to the next logical question that stems from it: is it illegal to commit suicide in Texas? However, all states, Texas included, passed laws against assisting, advising, or encouraging other people to commit suicide no matter the reason behind it.
Although euthanasia is currently illegal in all states of the USA, physician-assisted suicide is legal in ten states (California, Washington, New Jersey, and so forth), but Texas is not one of them. So, why is assisted suicide illegal in Texas? There are several arguments against it, and you’re probably already familiar with some of them:
1. It might put the most vulnerable persons at risk of ill-treatment and coercion.
2. It could create a lethal combination when merged with a profit-driven health system.
3. The doctors should have the right to decide if they want to assist suicide, and it shouldn’t be imposed on them as a duty.
However, what about the rights of those who wish to die with dignity? The closest Texas ever came to legalizing physician-assisted suicide was in 1999, when the Texas Advance Directives Act (TADA) was passed, allowing Texas hospitals and physicians to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatments from terminally ill patients. This act is occasionally referred to as passive euthanasia, although there are considerable differences between assisted suicide and euthanasia that we’ll cover in the following chapters.
How Can I Be Charged With Aiding Suicide?
According to the Texas Penal Code section 22.08 on aiding suicide, a person has committed an offense if they have motivated another person to attempt or to commit suicide by providing assistance or attempting to do so.
In case of attempting yet failing to aid another person to commit suicide, the actor’s offense is considered to be a Class C misdemeanor, which is the least serious level. In contrast, if the actor’s conduct leads to suicide or attempted suicide that causes a serious bodily injury, the act is considered to be a felony warranting jail time, one of the most severe types of offense.
So, the short answer is yes, the police will arrest you, and you would be charged for aiding suicide, and if that suicide ends in death or severe injury, you could be punished with a fine and a jail sentence.
Assisted Suicide vs. Euthanasia
Both assisted suicide and euthanasia are considered to be forms of so-called mercy killing. Mercy killing is an intended act of killing a person who is terminally ill, suffering from severe mental illness, fully or partially paralyzed, or otherwise wishes to escape a life of suffering by dying on their own terms.
However, the similarities stop there. While euthanasia is usually performed at a hospital or other healthcare facility where it is administered and supervised by a doctor or other medical personnel and happens as a result of medication that leads to death, that isn’t the case with assisted suicide. Although the term euthanasia can also be used to describe an act of a non-professional that ends someone’s life out of mercy, the law seldom recognizes it as such.
With assisted suicide, the willing victim is the one that will end their life but is given the means to do so by another person through a medical or non-medical method. While assisted suicide is always a voluntary act, euthanasia can be both voluntary and non-voluntary, where the latter one is administered in case the subject is unable to give their consent due to unconsciousness or being a young child or of a child-like nature.
Why Do People Commit Suicide?
Since we never get to ask a person who decided to die why they did it, we can only gain a clue about their motives through notes left behind, scraps of conversations we shared, and hidden signs behind behavior changes we failed to notice on time. Mostly, there are multiple factors that, when combined make a person choose death instead of continuing with their lives, but these are the most common ones.
Family history of suicide
Studies show that familial and genetic factors can raise the risk of attempting to or committing suicide, leading to the hypothesis that suicidal behavior might be heredity. However, we must stress that only a small portion of people have a family history of suicide and that genetics is simply one of several factors that can contribute to suicidal behavior.
Being in prison or jail
Suicide is the leading cause of death at penal facilities across the USA, and for a number of reasons. Perhaps the people with a stronger death drive (suicidal tendencies included) are more likely to end up incarcerated for committing a crime, or it’s the hostile prison environment and fear of other inmates that lead them to end their lives. The reasons could also stem from the consequences of one’s crime that caused their conviction in the first place. Or it could be the imprisonment itself, the isolation, and the loss of meaningful relationships.
Rather than scheduling their suicide step by step, most people suffering from mental illness choose to attempt suicide shortly after suffering a severe episode. The most common culprit is severe depression which can bring about enormous emotional pain and despair, not allowing the sufferer to see the light at the end of a tunnel.
Traumatic life events
Traumatic experiences such as serious illness, war, natural disasters, sexual assault, or something as simple as witnessing a death of a loved one can trigger a post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD) which leads to a higher risk of suicide, even a year or more after the traumatic event has taken place.
Silent cry for help
Sometimes, a suicide attempt isn’t an unfulfilled death wish, but a cry for help few can hear. It might be their way of showing the world their so-called soul sickness, their suffering, the loneliness they’ve endured, and letting out their cry for help.
Suicide Prevention in Texas
Suicide prevention is often defined as a set of efforts aimed at reducing the suicide rate to an absolute minimum, if not eliminating them. Texas suicide prevention plan promotes collaboration with local mental health professionals with the intent to put them in contact with persons who are showing warning signs of suicidal behavior and taking them seriously. There’s also the factor of raising awareness about this taboo topic.
The suicide prevention lifeline is made available round-the-clock and live chat for anyone in suicidal crisis across the USA, Texas included, thanks to organizations such as The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline that are working closely with the Department of Health and Human Services of the USA. The caller will be directed to the closest crisis center to get counseling with a psychotherapist or other mental health professional.
Why Hire Suicide Attorney in Texas
Whether someone’s loved one has committed suicide on their own or with others’ assistance, a suicide attorney can be a strong source of support for their client and their grieving family. With a clear head and years of experience handling similar cases, a suicide attorney (or even a common lawyer) can act as a counselor, negotiate a just settlement, get to your defense if needed, and make sure that the case goes smoothly.
However, if a person aids someone to commit suicide, they should contact a suicide attorney as soon as possible, since in Texas, assisted suicide is still considered unlawful.
Although committing suicide isn’t illegal in Texas, both euthanasia and assisted suicide are currently considered illegal. This means that a person can be sentenced to pay a fine or serve prison time for assisting someone to take their own life, even if it’s out of compassion. However, doctors are allowed to remove patients from life support if they are experiencing excruciating pain while being at death’s door without any hope that their condition will ever improve.