Just a quick warning that this post discusses mental illness and suicide. If you consider that a trigger or those topics make you uncomfortable, please avoid this post. This post was not written to offend or hurt anyone. It is an attempt to explore a controversial topic.
Should depressed people have the right to take their own life and/or have the state (government) help them? Taken a step further, should people be allowed to take their life no matter what the circumstances?
I ran across a news story of a 24 year old who has recently been given the go-ahead to be euthanized by lethal injection :
A 24-year-old Belgian woman who suffers from depression and has had a “death wish” since childhood has been granted the right to die — even though she’s not terminally ill.
Doctors gave the young woman, identified only as Laura, the go-ahead to be euthanized by lethal injection after she spent her life battling suicidal thoughts, she told Belgian newspaper De Morgen.
“Life, that’s not for me,” she said. “Death feels to me not as a choice. If I had a choice, I would choose a bearable life, but I have done everything and that was unsuccessful.”
Laura, who entered a psychiatric institution when she was 21, said her alcohol father and troubled childhood contributed to her longtime “death wish.”
“I played all my life with these thoughts of suicide, I have also done a few attempts,” she said. “But then there is someone who needs me, and I don’t want to hurt anyone. That has always stopped me.”
I watched a short video on it, where the hosts (I’ll drop the video at the bottom of this post) debate the topic. One was for euthanasia and one was against it. My first reaction was to recoil at the thought of someone taking their life for any reason other than terminal illness, but the more I mull over the situation, the more I feel as though people should be able to take their own life no matter what.
Now, I do want to qualify that statement by saying I hope no one wants to take their own life. I’m not cheering at the prospect of people taking their own life.
However, I don’t feel the state has a right to try and force people to live their lives. I don’t feel as though life should be forced on anyone. I also don’t think the state should have the right to incarcerate people for failing their attempt to take their own life.
Anyone who has read this blog should know my thoughts on the religious arguments that God owns your life etc. I definitely do not agree with those arguments, and I don’t believe people’s individual religious views should be factored in when it comes to making laws. I’ve also written before on my thoughts about euthanasia for the terminally ill.
When push comes to shove, I think our life should be our own and whether we live it or not should be our choice and our choice alone.
The sticky part for me is when mental illness is brought into the equation. At that point, how much of the decision is based on our choice and how much is based on the mental illness affecting thought processes?
I don’t know. I’m not a doctor and I’m certainly not qualified to speak on that topic. I only have my opinions.
According to statistics:
Suicide is a potentially preventable public health problem. In 2009, the last year for which statistics are available, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. That year, there were nearly 37,000 suicides, and 1 million people attempted suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Those numbers seem very high. They probably shouldn’t surprise me. In my lifetime, I’ve known at least one person who has taken their own life. They used a shoelace, tied it to a doorknob and around their neck, and sat down until they asphyxiated. He was fighting a drug habit and might very well have been battling a mental illness.
If he had been allowed to go to a doctor and get assistance to die, would he have done so?
I don’t know. And while I think on an intellectual basis that people like my acquaintance should be allowed to seek out a doctors help instead of having to tie that shoelace, my gut tells me otherwise. I realize I’m being a bit wishy-washy on this subject because I’m really undecided.
So what do you think? Under what circumstances should someone be allowed to kill themselves? Should the state be allowed to assist?
Or are you against euthanasia and suicide altogether?