The Glamour of Suicide
The Devil wasn't going to let Lady Day (March 25) go by without having a swipe at the Culture of Life that day so gloriously celebrates. The Age ran a front page story called "Angie's choice: a death with dignity", glorifying a suicide as a "death with dignity". (See also:Angie's choice and Police investigate Angie's lonely death, as well as letters to the editor here and here).
This is nothing new for The Age. A google search of "euthanasia" on www.theage.com.au will turn up 1,020 articles. Compare this to a google search on The Herald Sun's website (which turns up only 256) and it is hard not to get the impression that this is a subject the Editors at The Age are especially interested in. In fact, the Herald Sun seems happy to carry a different line from one of their most popular columnists (Andrew Bolt, Philip Nitschke 'leaves trail of lonely dead').
The fact is that The Age certainly knew that this illegal suicide (suicide is illegal, you know - it is just very hard to prosecute!) was going to take place.
Senior-Sergeant Allen said Ms Belecciu, who told her story to The Age last week in an effort to stir debate about euthanasia, had been found by a motel worker who reported her death to police on Tuesday.In the light of Senior-Sergeant Allen's comment, I don't think it would be inaccurate to call the story (not the actual death) of Ms Belecciu either a "protest action" or a "media stunt" (depending on your point of view) jointly carried out by Ms Belecciu and The Age.
The letters to the editor the next day included this:
A PALLIATIVE care nurse takes her own life rather than enjoy the benefits of palliative care. This, surely, destroys the myth, created with support of the Catholic Church, that palliative care is a humane solution to the immense suffering that some people have to endure. If only our elected representatives had the courage to stand up to unelected lobby groups and do the right thing — legalise euthanasia.That reminds me of when I was a kid. If I complained of a sickness or a pain that wouldn't go away, my mum would sometimes joke "We'll just bong you on the head - that'll fix it."
Evert de Graauw, Wantirna
Anyway, now to the reason why I am blogging on this a few days after the event. The Archdiocese has released a public response to this sorry episode. Here it is:
MEDIA RELEASE – 27 MARCH 2009
BISHOP REJECTS GLAMORISATION OF SUICIDE
Bishop Christopher Prowse, Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne, said today that he was deeply distressed by the suffering and death of Angie Belecciu (The Age 25 March 2009).
The Bishop said however that he does not abide ‘glamorising’ story telling about her particular circumstances. “Nor do I condone efforts taken by some to assist people in Angie Belecciu’s situation to take their own lives,” he said.
“I wish more could have been done to ease her suffering. My prayers and sympathy are with her family at this time,” he said. “I see nothing ennobling, no validation of human dignity, in suicide. We must do all we can to make the benefits of palliative care accessible.”
The Bishop said that palliative care gives tremendous comfort and support to the terminally ill.
Mr Larkins, Chief Executive Officer of Palliative Care Victoria, told The Age recently that feedback from loved ones of palliative care patients showed a 98% to 99% satisfaction with treatment.
Bishop Prowse said, “Further resources from Government and elsewhere are required to further advance palliative care in Australia. For Christians, life is a gift from God. It is not ours to dispose of.”
The Bishop said the Catholic Church, and many others in the community, regrets any bias towards a euthanasia option that Australian society has long condemned. “May it continue to outlaw euthanasia in all its insidious expressions. Euthanasia is never to be a choice for a healthy society that protects life from beginning to end.”
“Our prayers go out to Angie Belecciu. May she rest in peace. May her family be comforted at this time of sadness,” the Bishop said.