So­ci­ety should rec­og­nize one’s right to die

The Compass - - OPINION -

The sub­ject of sui­cide has been stud­ied and restud­ied, and yet the stud­ies con­tinue.

Nu­mer­ous de­mo­graphic fac­tors have been iden­ti­fied as in­di­ca­tors for those who end up end­ing their lives on their own vo­li­tion. Gen­der stud­ies have shown that Amer­i­can males are four times more likely to at­tempt sui­cide than fe­males and more likely to achieve that goal.

In fact, this trend is also ev­i­dent in all western coun­tries. One’s race, sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and so­cial fac­tors such as poverty and un­em­ploy­ment are also fac­tors. Stud­ies also point to con­tin­gent fac­tors at play in sui­ci­dal deaths — clin­i­cal de­pres­sion, sub­stance abuse, se­vere phys­i­cal dis­eases and phys­i­cal in­fir­mi­ties.

Is it any won­der, then, why world­wide sui­cide has be­come the 12th lead­ing cause of death with an es­ti­mated one mil­lion sui­cides ev­ery year.

A con­scious re­lease

Now sta­tis­tics and num­bers are all well and good, but sta­tis­tics can never re­move the in­di­vid­ual suf­fer­ing and pain of­ten in­flicted by chance upon an in­di­vid­ual body, oft-times a body dis­fig­ured by disease and in­jury, but even worse a phys­i­cally dis­em­pow­ered body im­pris­on­ing an ac­tive, func­tion­ing mind.

I could ask: Where all are those peo­ple of re­li­gious faiths who so value the con­cept of raw life? Where are all those skilled physi­cians? Where are all those learned judges and leg­is­la­tors? And where are all those po­lit­i­cal democrats, all of whom have a key role to play in bring­ing about a change in so­ci­ety that will rec­og­nize one’s right to die?

You all know you can’t truly stop a per­son from tak­ing his or own life, re­gard­less of your re­li­gious, philo­soph­i­cal or po­lit­i­cal per­sua­sion. Yet you per­sist in deny­ing a re­quest for a death with dig­nity, and with out­side as­sis­tance if re­quired. Why are we vil­i­fy­ing de­cent peo­ple who in most cases have made a pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tion to so­ci­ety and now seek a con­scious re­lease?

Dou­ble-stan­dard?

Ac­tu­ally, the ul­ti­mate irony is that many re­li­gious per­sons, democrats, and other so­cial cat­e­gories noted above are all too will­ing to rub out the life of a con­victed man with an im­posed death penalty. Surely, such up­right, morally su­pe­rior per­sons must suf­fer ex­treme cog­ni­tive and emo­tional dis­so­nance.

Of course, some do but, apart from the oc­ca­sional Amer­i­can gov­er­nor sav­ing a con­vict from gassing or elec­tro­cu­tion, most morally am­bigu­ous in­di­vid­u­als take refuge in a group sys­tem.

That is so un­like Christ, who faced his own mor­tal death and asked God, “O my Fa­ther, if it be pos­si­ble, let this cup pass from me: nev­er­the­less, not as I will, but as thou wilt.”

This pas­sage is of­ten in­ter­preted as Christ, who in great an­guish and with fore­knowl­edge of what his pre­or­dained role was as saviour of mankind, ask­ing if there was no other way to bring about the re­demp­tion of the hu­man race. He wasn’t beg­ging for a re­lease, just in­quir­ing.

Why, then, can we not as in­di­vid­u­als who seek to avoid the true moral path fac­ing each of us not give sup­port to those folk for whom life has be­come un­bear­able? Why will we not lobby for leg­is­la­tion that would al­low them to die with dig­nity?

You have be­fore you the solid ex­am­ple of eter­nal self-sac­ri­fice and un­end­ing com­pas­sion, that of Christ; yet you are un­will­ing to reach out and show that same com­pas­sion to a fel­low hu­man be­ing who was made in God’s im­age from dust and who has evolved far be­yond mere dust to a gar­den of in­tel­li­gent fer­til­ity in nu­mer­ous hu­man spheres. — Aubrey Smith writes from Grand

falls Wind­sor

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