Sunday, 1 December 2013

Suicide promotion and 'the fog of depression'

I write earlier about the tragic story of Tim Bowers and how his choices were likely not to have been real choices at all given his circumstances.

In this article by Wesley Smith that first appeared on his Human Exceptionalism Blog, Wesley exposes how the sick and disabled are being encouraged towards their death and what effect that encouragement may have on those who are not clear-of-mind:

The media is encouraging suicide of the sick.

Wesley Smith
By Wesley Smith

The media sells content these days by promoting the supposed virtues of suicide by the sick and disabled. How else explain the National Post doing an extended, puff interview with two ill women about their plans to commit suicide? 

Q: How important is it for you to have that measure of control over when to end your life?
MYERS: I think that’s paramount. In an ideal world I’d be able to make the choice and have my loved ones and family and friends and whoever I wanted to be with me through that journey. As it stands right now, I don’t have that choice. This is a choice I will have to do on my own and I’m going to have to make sure that nobody’s around when I do it. I value life enough to know that I don’t want to put anybody else in legal jeopardy because I might want to say “enough is enough.”… 
RIGGS: I think that’s incredibly important. I think that one of the most important parts of this whole issue is that, as patients, we are in control.
These kind of pro suicide articles push a destructively discriminatory meme that if one is seriously ill and/or dependent, they should really consider suicide. Not only that, but so promoting suicide violates the media guidelines on reporting the issue published by the World Health Association:
Media play a significant role in today’s society by providing a very wide range of information in a variety of ways. They strongly influence community attitudes, beliefs and behaviour, and play a vital role in politics, economics and social practice. Because of that influence media can also play an active role in the prevention of suicide…One of the many factors that may lead a vulnerable individual to suicide could be publicity about suicides in the media. How the media report on suicide cases can influence other suicides.
But Wesley, one of the women has ALS! Surely that justifies suicide! No, it justifies doing all we can so that the ALS patient doesn’t want suicide.

I’ve seen ALS close up and personal. My good friend and last hospice patient, Robert Salamanca, died from it. He had been suicidal too–for almost two years. He told me that he had wanted to go to Kevorkian, for gosh sakes!

But then, in his words, “I came out of the fog and was so glad to be alive.” He came to bitterly resent advocacy for suicide by hoisting patients with ALS up the flag pole as assisted suicide’s battle flag–as in NP’s piece–taking to the pages of the San Francisco Chronicle to make his point. From, “I Don’t Want a Choice to Die:”
Many pro-euthanasia groups “showcase” people with ALS. They portray us as feeble, unintelligible and dying by slow suffocation. This is absolutely false, and I protest their efforts vehemently. By receiving proper medical care, a terminally ill person can pass away peacefully, pain-free and with dignity. We are not people just waiting for someone to help us end our misery, but to the contrary, we are people reaching out to love . . . to be loved . . . wanting to feel life at its best.
As with most ALS patients who receive proper care–Bob passed away peacefully in his sleep. But he lived ”intensely,”–his descriptive–until that very moment; loving his family, collecting art, making money from on-line investing, writing a memoir.

Bob concluded his Chronicle piece:
I exhort everyone: Life is worth living, and life is worth receiving. I know. I live it every day.
We don’t see opinions like Bob’s presented in the media much anymore. Rather, media propagandistically amplifies the siren song of suicide. Ditto popular entertainment and pro assisted suicide advocacy campaigns.

Many will just shrug that Bob didn’t actually commit suicide, so what is the problem? Here is the problem: Because of the suicide pushers, the Bob’s of the future might not live long enough to “come out of the fog” and get on with life.


  1. He's probably right that it makes suicide more socially acceptable. A lot of things that were not acceptable 50 years ago, are now, and vice versa. Society's views on things like smoking, abortion, homosexuality, gambling, public swearing, women's rights, contraception, religion, animal rights, clothing and hair styles, and race and skin colour, have changed. Society is becoming more tolerant of diverse behaviours. The main losers in all this flurry of change have been smokers, industrial polluters, and the morally uptight.

    1. There you go again, Nic. You're like a broken record (if you remember what they were). You can't create a moral equivalence between killing and these other matters you mention. It really is a very poor way to argue.

  2. I see your point, Paul. Killing is indeed in a different category to clothing and gambling. Even so, attitudes to killing vary widely. Take abortion, now (rightly or wrongly) accepted as clinical procedure in most places. Previously it was murder - and still is in some countries. And capital punishment, rejected on moral grounds in most places. And yet in the US, the world’s largest Christian majority democracy, weirdly it’s official policy. Then there is unintended killing due to dogma: those religious elders who have instructed their followers to not wear condoms, even though it prevents the spread of HI Virus. This policy kills people, and could be changed without damaging that religious movement. My point? Morality around killing is what a society says it is. If society changes its mind, morality changes.

  3. Now these are interesting comments, Nic. I don't think and social mores changes killing into anything else. Yes, we can adopt a 'softened'language to assuage bad conscience or to try to convince people that it is not killing - but that is what it remains. It is an objective reality.
    Notice I did not say murder. Our laws create categories for homicide (killing a human) and, yes, intention does matter (as does premeditation in some degrees) - but no-one is saying it is not homicide.