According to the Theravadan tradition of Buddhism, the woman violated two of the important five precepts of Buddhist ethics. By attempting suicide, she violated the first precept, which is to avoid taking life, including the life of oneself in addition to the third parajika in the Vinaya, which forbids the taking of human life. She also breached the fifth precept which requires abstinence from intoxicating substances, such as drugs. While taking the prescribed dosage of the medication Dothiepin was necessary, it was the overdose that caused the fifth precept to be broken because of its intoxication.
This particular case study can be explained in the context of the Four Noble Truths, the first of which is that all life is suffering (dukkha). It is evident that this woman attempted suicide in order to escape dukkha (both the physical and emotional suffering as a result of her chronic illness and sudden infertility) that caused her unhappiness and desperation.
[...] Therefore, someone who commits or attempts suicide in this emotional state may not endure karmic consequences as harsh as someone who commits or attempts suicide in a healthy mental state. This case study also concerns the ethical issue of euthanasia. As with suicide, euthanasia also violates the first precept as well as the third parajika in the Vinaya. Buddhism places great emphasis on human life, but also on the practice of compassion, so the question of whether euthanasia is right or wrong tends to be a struggle between which of these two concepts (life or compassion) prevails. In Damien Keown's book Buddhist Ethics (2005, p. [...]
[...] With that said, Buddhists would probably weigh the severity of either forcing this woman to live when she prefers to die (and in so doing, neglecting to adhere to the practice of compassion and benevolence) or allowing her to die (thus, practicing compassion and benevolence), even though it would violate some of the tenets of Theravada Buddhism. As a result, they would probably come to the conclusion that the “lesser evil” is to end her life and thus, her suffering. References • Keown, D. (2005). Buddhist Ethics: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press: USA. • National MS Society: Symptoms. (2005). [...]
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