I think the other way around. It's a defect to the species, but a survival advantage for an individual lifeform of whatever species because, like you said, it frees up natural resources.To an individual it's the consequence of a defect. To the species it's a survival advantage because it frees up resources for future generations, which will hopefully will be better adapted to the environment.
...except if nothing was dying I suppose that would mean that the species was already perfectly suited to the environment and not need to evolve. Never mind, I need to think about this.
It's pretty much inevitable for vertebrates though, because of the Hayflick limit if nothing else.