It's not suicide
suicide, n.1 a. One who dies by his own hand; one who commits self-murder. Also, one who attempts or has a tendency to commit suicide.
suicide, n.2 a. The or an act of taking one's own life, self-murder.
As can be seen from those definitions, 'suicide' has a denotational association with 'murder'. Citing only the relevant senses, 'murder' means
1. The action or an act of killing.
a. The deliberate and unlawful killing of a human being, esp. in a premeditated manner; (Law) criminal homicide with malice aforethought (occas. more fully wilful murder); an instance of this.
In Old English the word could be applied to any homicide that was strongly reprobated. It is therefore sometimes difficult, esp. in early use, to distinguish clearly between this sense and sense A. 1c.
c. The action of killing or causing destruction of life, regarded as wicked and morally reprehensible irrespective of its legality (e.g. in relation to war, death sentences passed down by tribunals, and other socially sanctioned acts of killing); an instance of this.
(op. cit. Emphasis mine.)
The denotational association of 'suicide' with 'murder', which is a "wicked and morally reprehensible" act, leads many to the view that
it is not suicide in the traditional sense when a cogent, non-depressed person, [often] elderly, chooses to die in a non-violent manner with family in attendance and/or in support.
From Report of the "ALT Suicide" Group: See this report for details on the results of three surveys, the responses to which also suggested that 'suicide' is widely considered an inappropriate word to use when referring to the type of death described.
What is it?
What would be good single words to use for the following senses, parallel to the senses of 'suicide' given above:
n.1 a. One who chooses to die for good and compelling reasons. Also, one who attempts to die for good and compelling reasons.
n.2 a. The or an act of killing oneself for good and compelling reasons.
- Dignicide has been suggested and is a neologism in use with those senses, but the results of the three surveys detailed in the report cited previously ("Report of the 'ALT Suicide' Group") suggest that coinage is not generally looked upon favorably.
- Euthanasia is another possibility. It doesn't work for sense 1, and no derivational form (for example, 'self-euthanist') is in contemporary use with that sense. For sense 2, 'euthanasia' does have a similar meaning:
In recent use: The action of inducing a gentle and easy death.
However, 'euthanasia' does not work in an example sentence such as
Mr. X YZ committed euthanasia.
because it does not have the denotational reflexivity ("taking one's own life") of 'suicide'. Even supposing that limitation could be acceptably overcome by a nonce-word or neologism such as 'self-euthanized', for example,
Mr. X YZ self-euthanized or committed self-euthanization.
it may be felt that 'euthanasia', like 'suicide', is "strongly reprobated".