Daily Archives: October 4, 2010

Putting up Barriers to Suicide

There is a good article in the Herald Sun today: Tread carefully when dealing with dying. One of the first comments at the end says:

Anni of Melbourne Posted at 3:17 PM Today
There is a huge difference between turning off life support for someone unable to make that choice, and assisting someone to end a painful and terminal condition who can choose. As per usual the Herald Sun has some how completely ignored the issue. As some one who has a disability I understand the desire to have some say over how you die. It disgusts me to believe that some people believe it is kinder to watch fellow humans suffer intense agony than allow then a dignified and peaceful death.

Granted that there IS a difference between 1) “turning off life support for someone unable to make that choice” and 2) “assisting someone to end a painful and terminal condition [by killing themselves] who can choose”, the difference does not make the latter action good and right.

In the article, Alan Howe writes:

We put up all sorts of barriers to prevent people from killing themselves – quite literally. Soon, there will be expensive high fencing across each side of the West Gate Bridge to try to stop the regular suicides that take place there. Surveys show that many people who believe they want to commit suicide think again if there is just one degree of difficulty.

It is worthwhile asking why a society that sees suicide prevention as a priority (though probably not a high enough one) would want to introduce bill to legalise suicide? What is it about the mental strains of bearing physical illness and suffering that we treat it as a different case to the mental strains of any other kind of suffering? Why does our society regard suicide as wrong and requiring to be prevented at all costs, except in the case of those who are terminally ill (according to diagnosis, not knowledge of the future), in which case there are a disturbing number of people who wish to actively enable such suicides and assist people to achieve them?

Does anyone have an answer?

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