Engineering Ethics

What should engineers do to prevent or discourage suicide It is their moral responsibility to do it Or merely a scientific matter of managing traffic flow

Suicide cases may be prevent as according to estimate only three to five percent of suicide cases involve people who really want to die. In other words most people who have a suicidal tendency are relieved when someone comes to their aid. Citing suicide expert Edwin Shneidman Dennis Coon puts it, Suicidal behavior is often a form of communication, a cry for help born out of pain, with clues and messages of suffering and anguish and pleas for response.

Accordingly, two percent of the 30,000 successful suicide cases each year, two percent were accomplished by jumping off bridges, skyscrapers or other tall structures. That means some six hundred people commit suicide in areas they can be easily monitored and prevented from killing themselves. In this case, traffic engineers can do something to discourage or prevent suicide by strictly monitoring those areas previously identified as the popular site for suicide attempts and placed some signs that offers help and support for people with suicidal tendency as well as set up communication equipment capable of receiving email messages that automatically forward messages to particular institutions, whereby these people might received a reply from friendly counselors that could offer them lifeline support.

Traffic engineers therefore should have a close coordination with agencies and institution providing counseling and emotional support to people so that when signs of suicidal tendency appear they could readily report it to the proper institution. It may not be their moral responsibility as an engineer but as human person who values the lives of others, they are morally responsible just like everyone else to save the lives of people within their areas of responsibility.

How Much will suicide prevention devices or procedures costs, and how effective are they Is the result justified, or worth the price How will you sell the idea to tax payers, voters and public officials

Suicide prevention devices such as mentioned above are now available in some countries in Europe. In both England and Ireland for instance, David Lester pointed out that these countries run an international service that uses trained volunteers in existing intervention centers to respond to e-mail messages from suicidal individuals (Lester 165). According to Lester, when an email messages is received it can be automatically forwarded for reply to a Befriender volunteer in virtually any part of the world (165).

While there seemed to be no available exact cost of this technology, yet estimate could be around one hundred seventy-five thousand dollars per communication center. This amount covers only for the technology as most of the supports personnel involve were purely on voluntary basis. So it is a matter of acquiring the device and as part of the regular duty of traffic engineers, they should monitor the people in areas where cases of suicides are high. They are effective as long as engineers are doing their share in the efforts of preventing suicide in their areas of responsibility and there are people who are determined to do their best to save lives.

Based on the experience in England, this suicide prevention devise have been effective as volunteers provides an immediate response to the emotional crises through listening and helping callers talk about their sense of despair and their suicidal feelings. As stated earlier, only three to five percent of suicide cases are really longing die. That is a greater number were merely suffering from extreme anguish and emotional pain. They felt no one cares for them and have no where or no one to go to for emotional and psychological support. It indeed a fact that many people are seeking for emotional and psychological support.

Is the result worth the price Yes Just one or two lives that were saved from potential death are worth more than the price of the devise.

The idea of putting communication equipment on popular areas that would help prevent suicide cases is not difficult to sell to tax payers, voters, and public officials because it concerns on one of the most serious and most pervasive problems confronting the human society. In fact, suicide is the eleventh leading cause of death in the United States accounting for more than 30,000 deaths yearly (Weiten 2010, 593. By simply explaining the purpose of the project and the number of people affected by this problem as well the benefits of this project, it would not be difficult to convince the tax paying public, voters and public officials the need to establish communication centers similar to Befrienders International, a volunteer organization towards the prevention of suicide established in England during the 1950s.

Suppose the suicide rate increases, despite elaborate precautions, will that change your logic, your views, or your professional conduct

No Suicide cases can be difficult to control since many of the suicide attempts could not be detected and many of those with tendency to commits suicide carefully hide their intension. Thus despite of various efforts to address this problem, it remains one of the leading cause of deaths. One reason why it will not change my logic or my views and even my professional conduct is that I am not thinking of addressing the problem in general. First of all, the main concern is the prevention of suicide cases in areas those with suicide tendencies can be monitored. These areas are the so-called popular sites such as bridges, skyscrapers, and other tall structures where those who will attempt to commit suicide can be monitored and prevented from doing their intension. Since suicide cases in these areas accounts only for two percent of the total successful attempts, which is equivalent to only around six hundred cases each year, this may not be difficult to monitor and to address. That means the focus of the project is not the overall problem but only suicide cases in such areas.

Therefore, what ever the result of the efforts of others towards addressing this problem, or if the suicides rates increases despite of the elaborate precautions, it will not affect or change my logic especially if I am gaining success on what I am doing. My view is that life is important no matter how worse or painful its experiences are. That means no matter how difficult or how big the problems confronting the individual is, it is not enough reason to resolve the problem simply by ending that life. It will not affect my professional conduct either because I understand the problem. The problem is serious and something has to be done to help solve the problem.

The problem however can be addressed through collaborative effort. Indeed, this kind of community efforts towards suicide preventions is of very recent origin in the United States. Lester noted that it was only in the 1960s that suicide prevention centers became numerous however, efforts were largely confined in the field of sociology. Given the success of volunteer organizations towards the prevention of suicides in England, it is high time that such type of community efforts be done in order to address the problem. By putting signs that offers hope and emotional support, and by establishing communication, counseling, and monitoring centers in areas where suicide are prevalent can help identify those with suicidal tendencies, or they could initiate contact with the center where they could be automatically referred to the counseling centers for immediate response. With the success of this project, this can be initiated on a nationwide basis to address the problem in general. In the meantime, it is designed to address the particular areas where monitoring is possible.

But just the like Befriender International which relies on volunteer workers, this suicide prevention project is calling on all individual who has passion of saving lives. These volunteers will undergo necessary trainings to handle extreme cases of suicide attempts as well as counseling and other approaches that could help people to express their anger their emotion, their anxieties and all other emotions that causes them to be depressed.


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