The Economic Argument for a Policy of Suicide Prevention
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The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate, using some conventional concepts and procedures from the discipline of economics, the economic rationale for governments to have suicide prevention policies. This is a conceptual paper, which proceeds in a theoretical fashion. The part of the economics literature that is relevant to this task is welfare (or normative) economics, not positive or empirical economics. Welfare economics is that part of economics which is concerned with evaluating whether some change in the human environment (economic, social, political etc) has increased social welfare. The motivation of this paper is to show that a suicide prevention policy involves a legitimate role of government, given the conventional framework of welfare economics. It may seem puzzling to suicidologists that it is necessary to argue an economic case for suicide prevention, given that suicide prevention seems established in ontemporary civil society. That it is 'wellestablished' is a view that does not always apply 'outside the circle' of suicidology. The case for policy is dubious amongst some with a contemporary concern for environmental degradation. This argument is that a laissez-faire approach to suicide is appropriate in order to protect the planet. This paper shows that there is no economic case for a 'no policy' stance with respect to suicide prevention.
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