A few months ago I read Stewards of the Flame by the fabulous author Sylvia Engdahl.
The planet in the book, Undine, is ruled by a medical regime, in which death is viewed as the worst thing that could possibly happen to a person. This goes to the extent that after someone would be considered dead in this world, the blood is kept flowing through the heart and air through the lungs. Everyone is kept in a vegetative state forever. They call it immortality.
As an example, if someone is with you and there was an accident, and you didn't call the medics in time to save your companion, you are guilty of murder. Because no one is allowed to die, you would be put into a stasis vault fully functional. Free-thinking is considered a mental illness, and all conception is carefully controlled: undesirable genes, such as shortness or risk of obesity, are thrown out of the pool, along with "diseases" such as autism.
Understandably, many people in the novel wish to escape this fate.
The scariest thing about it is that we can see some of this going on in our own culture already. Everybody has a therepist; and aging people are kept alive pretty much just for the sake of being alive- they're no longer who they were. I hope that I will never be like that; I'd rather just die.
So if suicide is wrong in the uttermost sense, why is the situation described above so repulsive? If the technology was available, why shouldn't people use it?
I guess the bottom line is: if someone really sees nothing more in life, why should we convince her to live?
Why do we feel tremendous sadness for the girl who committed suicide in her early teens and not for the 104-year-old whose son pulled the cord? If that 104-year-old asked to be put to sleep when she couldn't remember her son's name anymore, should we have abided her wishes? But isn't that also a form of suicide?
(My grandmother died when I was three and a half. The only thing I remember about her was that she kept thinking I was her sister who had been dead for thirty years. I was more than a little creeped out. My mom says that my grandmother would've hated for me to only remember her that way and had my grandmother been able to see herself, she'd have hated that too. Just couldn't figure out how to work this in to the rest of the post.)