Could You Kill Someone?


That’s a question that a friend posed on her Facebook page yesterday. Precisely she asked:

In all honesty, all cards on the table, could you kill a person? Whether it’s self-defense or plain old murder, do you think you could do it? Assuming of your own free will not in the line of duty, so not counting military service or law enforcement.

That is a good question. Well, plain old murder? As in killing someone out of anger, or for profit or revenge? That’s easy for me: No. I’m not a killer. Truthfully, over the years I’ve even become less and less comfortable with the Death Penalty. As a character once said in a movie (I think it was the first “Death Wish”): “We kill people who kill people because killing people is wrong.” Emotionally I may understand it, but logically I can’t really justify it. So, no, I would not just murder someone. No matter how much I’d want to. I just couldn’t do it.

Sure, there are many people I can think of who if I heard that someone else killed them, I wouldn’t exactly be sad about it. But I’m not going to be the one who does it.

Self-defense? Well, sure. If it’s me or them, then I’m choosing me. But even then I’d be as careful as possible. Obviously, it’s hard to predict how I’d react in the heat of the moment with a split-second to make a decision, but I wouldn’t want to try to kill someone unless I was 100% positive that there was absolutely no other way to stop them. Like if someone’s trying to break into my home and I have a gun, my first instinct would be to fire a warning shot first, see if that scares them off. And if not, then I’ll try to aim for a non-lethal part of their body. I just wouldn’t want an avoidable death on my conscience. I don’t think I could live with myself afterward.

Interestingly, a couple of people on FB brought up euthanasia/assisted suicide, and having done that. Now, YES, I believe that I could do that. If someone’s in horrible pain that’s never going to end, or being kept alive by machines, etc., I would not have a problem ending their suffering by pulling the plug or whatever I have to do to end their lives. I know many will disagree, but I consider that a humane act. And I’ve actually discussed this with my family, this is something that I hope someone would do for me if I’m ever in a position where I am severely infirm. I’m a firm believe in quality of life, just being alive at any cost. There are many scenarios where that I can imagine would I rather simply die with dignity than to carry on eking out a miserable existence.

So that’s my answer.


  1. I firmly believe that, given the right circumstances, anybody is capable of doing anything. Of course, we are biased when we examine ourselves, so I doubt many people at all look at themselves and think “I could definitely kill another human being.” But when you look at the psychological experiments of Milgram or Zimbardo, otherwise normal, kindhearted people can be driven to do terrible things under certain conditions. So while I’d like to say that I could never kill someone, or at least only do it in self-defense, I think I just have never found myself in a circumstance where I would be capable of killing someone else. As dark as it may sound, I think that circumstance does exist, and I just hope I never find myself in it.

    Liked by 1 person

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