Tuesday, October 05, 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?

23 Comments:

At Tuesday, October 05, 2010 6:48:00 am , Anonymous Henrietta said...

"No person should be in any modern hospital in pain."

*I have spoken to a palliative care nurse who assures me that people shouldn't be in pain (even if they have to induce a coma)

 
At Tuesday, October 05, 2010 8:56:00 am , Anonymous Matthias said...

I like that quote from Ian Gawler and let us also remember that he was a vet before contracting cancer,and if he was pro eithanasia,you would have expected to see a comparison with how we treat sick animals and humans

 
At Tuesday, October 05, 2010 11:36:00 am , Anonymous SPQRatae said...

suicide: a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
It is always right that we make it as difficult as possible for people to kill themselves. What they need is love and attention, not a loaded gun and encouragement to get on with it.
People only say it's wrong to let people suffer because they cannot see any point in suffering. A Christian could never think that.
Thankfully, with medical advances, no-one who is dying has to be in pain - at least in the developed world.

 
At Tuesday, October 05, 2010 6:46:00 pm , Anonymous Salvatore said...

Actually, I suspect the ‘barriers’ are only put up to prevent suicides that are too distressing, dangerous (or simply inconvenient) to the rest of us; in short, too public. As long as people dispose of themselves discretely I fear we (as a society) are perfectly content for them to do so.

 
At Tuesday, October 05, 2010 8:19:00 pm , Anonymous Gareth said...

And when was the last time you actually listened to anything or anyone that doesn't fit your own 'narrative', Tony?

 
At Tuesday, October 05, 2010 9:15:00 pm , Anonymous Schütz said...

Well, let us presume for the sake of the discussion that I am interested in an answer, Tony. Do you have one to suggest?

 
At Tuesday, October 05, 2010 9:28:00 pm , Anonymous Schütz said...

Now there's a disturbing thought...

 
At Tuesday, October 05, 2010 10:23:00 pm , Anonymous Gareth said...

The article you posted Tony is not about having respect for those who have different views Tony.

Its core arguement was that euthanasia laws shouldn't be 'ham-fisted' through Parliament?

I think also Father Frank Brennan has a guily conscience about telling people that it is ok for Christians to vote Green because they have 'humane policies', but the first thing they do is turn around and introduce such extreme laws.

Father Brennan should apologise to Cardinal Pell and be man enough to admit he was WRONG about the Greens - a Christian having anything to do with such an extreme party is simply uncompatible.

 
At Wednesday, October 06, 2010 4:29:00 am , Anonymous Louise said...

Do you mean the Greens have respect for people of different views? If so, I wouldn't agree with that.

 
At Wednesday, October 06, 2010 4:35:00 am , Anonymous Louise said...

IOW, killing youself is a truly bad thing and causes not only destruction to yourself, but terrible psychic pain to those you supposedly love. it's a terrible, terrible thing.

 
At Wednesday, October 06, 2010 4:35:00 am , Anonymous Louise said...

That's a good point, and possibly correct.

The problem with taking a more compassionate view of people who commit or attempt suicide (and I'm not suggesting we become less compassionate) than in the past, is that it seems as though the people left behind ought *only* to be compassionate towards their loved one, whereas, in reality, it's horrifying. I mean, surely all their loved ones forever ask themselves, "why didn't they love me enough to keep living?"

 
At Wednesday, October 06, 2010 4:37:00 am , Anonymous Louise said...

You have a point about listening, Tony, but in the end we cannot agree with people who advocate euthanasia and at that point (no matter how empathetic we have been) we will be denounced as uncompassionate etc. This is how modern discourse tends to go.

 
At Wednesday, October 06, 2010 4:47:00 am , Anonymous jules said...

The real bottom line for Christians and all people of God's will,is that only natural death and God can take a life. No other human has this power, but when they use that power they are actually wrong. Suffering is part of life, just because someone suffers does not give me the green light to kill them. What these people really need is comfort and love and to know that a loving God is with them till the end.

 
At Wednesday, October 06, 2010 9:37:00 am , Anonymous Schütz said...

Ok, and I am asking you a question by which I, as "representative of a view that is not afraid to challenge the culture", should challenge that culture.

Why does our culture believe that suicide is a bad thing in every circumstance except "terminal" illness or "unbearable" physical suffering?

 
At Wednesday, October 06, 2010 9:39:00 am , Anonymous Schütz said...

Assuming that the pain and discomfort were not going to get any better (not sure if that’s a safe assumption), I’d choose #2, with a view to changing my relationships with people (assuming, of course, that that’s possible).

Why should your assumption work like that, Tony? Why not assume that your pain and discomfort might get better, whereas your relationships won't? That's part of the point I am trying to make: why do we have "hope" for relationship-related depression, but no "hope" for illness-related depression?

 
At Wednesday, October 06, 2010 7:06:00 pm , Anonymous Louise said...

I will add here, that it is greatly to the credit of this Pope that he actually managed to get the ordinary English people (whether Catholic or not) to listen to him and he made a favourable impression, I gather.

 
At Wednesday, October 06, 2010 7:08:00 pm , Anonymous Louise said...

All of which is just a long-hand way of noting that I will not beat myself up or my co-religionists for "failing" to get our message across. This Great Heresy (secularism) is a tough nut to crack.

 
At Wednesday, October 06, 2010 9:04:00 pm , Anonymous Tony said...

I suppose I could be offended if I actually understood you're point, Gareth. Lucky, huh?

 
At Wednesday, October 06, 2010 10:22:00 pm , Anonymous Gareth said...

Being willing to admit you are not the sharpest tool in the shed - I acknowledge your humility, Tons.

 
At Thursday, October 07, 2010 1:58:00 am , Anonymous Louise said...

It is actually a comprehensible remark, Tony. Gareth is saying that there is an irony in people telling pro-lifers we are "failing" at getting our message across, when in many instances, they are not interested in the topic, much less in our message. Although, I don't know that "irony" is quite the right word.

 
At Thursday, October 07, 2010 2:03:00 am , Anonymous Louise said...

Peter Hitchens describes why it's very hard for us to get our message across. Although he is not referring here to pro-life messages specifically, Hitchens notes how the media operate:

"My complaint against the press and TV pack (I agree that the press alone could not achieve this, but the same structures apply to the BBC and some independent broadcasters) is that they are unanimous, and collective. And that their bias is not openly declared, but concealed, made highly effective through the subtle methods I outline above."

(From http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2010/10/notes-and-queries.html, about 3rd para down)

And the media (being part of The Great Heresy) are pro-choice, as it happens, so, there you go.

 
At Thursday, October 07, 2010 3:30:00 am , Anonymous Schütz said...

I think the reason we accept (as Church) that not all "immoral" acts should be "illegal" is that to make an attempt (as some extreme forms of Sharia law do) to declare all "immoral" acts "illegal" would not only be difficult to define and prosecute, but also ultimately burdensome to society. It is not so much that we, by failing to legislate against such actions, declare such actions to be "moral", but rather as if we decide to let certain acts "go through to the keeper" (or "Keeper", if you prefer). Certainly it is a very long bow to draw from a certain act being "allowed" to a certain act being - not only moral but - a "human right"! Just because a certain immoral act is legal, does not mean that we need to support the "right" of others to do it. It simply means that we agree that certain types of immoral action are best combated by means other than the legal process.

The question then is, what acts do we regard as so immoral that it is imperative for us to legislate against them? Generally in our secular society we take this to be any action that might have an adverse effect upon the rights and liberties of others.

 
At Thursday, October 07, 2010 8:18:00 pm , Anonymous Gareth said...

The mass media is an enemy of God.

 

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