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Editor's Correspondence
June 12, 2000

The Will to Live, Suicide, and Euthanasia

Arch Intern Med. 2000;160(11):1706. doi:

We would like to propose a model that may confer simplicity, consistency, and moral clarity to end-of-life issues facing physicians and their patients.

From a Darwinian perspective, suicide at first glance seems an aberration, since the goal of the evolutionary game is to live in order to pass on one's genes. If one reflects further, however, it may be that suicide has evolved as a way for a damaged organism to cease being a drain on resources that could otherwise be used by its offspring or kin, which share its genes in varying degrees. The desire to die arising from the perception of being severely damaged physically or mentally may have made sense in times past from an evolutionary perspective. Arguably, it does not make sense in today's society, with its social safety nets and medical advances.

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