Suicide is a tragedy – even for the sick, disabled, and dying

assisted suicide, suicide, euthanasia, voluntary assisted dying

Suicide is something people want to prevent at all costs — unless the person is sick, disabled, elderly, or poor. When Brittany Maynard was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor in 2014 at the age of 29, her wish to die was celebrated as brave and dignified. When Aurelia Brouwers also died at age 29 by euthanasia, because she had a borderline personality disorder, as well as depression and anxiety, she announced it on Facebook a few hours ahead of time. Her family and friends stood by and watched her die. Likewise, when Susie Adelson threw an assisted suicide party for her grandmother — who was not terminally ill — her friends and family watched and toasted her as the doctor killed her. Her death was celebrated because she was elderly. Each of these women died with “dignity,” said the media, as if individuals who suffer from the same diagnoses but die naturally don’t have dignity in their dying. Arguably, they have more.

It’s National Suicide Prevention Month — but oddly enough, society actually celebrates suicide.

47,173 Americans committed suicide in 2017, an increase of 33 percent since 1999. These are deaths that the suicide prevention programs and most Americans are hoping to keep from happening. The only difference is when it comes to people like Maynard, Brouwers, and Adelson. As long as the word “assisted” is placed in front of “suicide,” suddenly death-by-choice is not only acceptable, it’s celebrated. In other words, as long as a person has been deemed worthy of life, we should prevent their suicides. If they are chronically ill, terminally ill, or mentally ill, then they can go ahead and kill themselves – no worries.

READ: Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain, and society’s mixed messages on suicide

Why? Why is it cause for celebration for a woman with a disability to kill herself, but a tragedy for an equal-aged, able-bodied woman to do the same?

The answer is simple: discrimination. Discrimination exists against people with disabilities from the moment they are conceived. There is a mentality that if a person receives a diagnosis, they should be able to die. If it’s a preborn child who receives the diagnosis, the mother is allowed to kill that child through abortion right up until birth. If she doesn’t, she may face criticism for allowing her baby to live. If it’s a 20-year-old receiving a terminal diagnosis, then she can die by “assisted” suicide… as if having a doctor, who vowed to heal, help her kill herself somehow makes it great. It’s a giant, glaring, eugenics-based double standard that’s staring everyone in the face, and yet it is justified as compassion. Individuals who are seeking to end their own life — whether assisted or not — often feel as though they are a burden. Legal euthanasia confirms to them that they are. It tells them that they should die, because life is going to be too hard for them and those around them. It’s heartbreaking.

Even for those who suffer from depression, such as Robin Williams or church pastor Jarrid Wilson, suicide is almost seen as a treatment. Each of these men were described as “free” after their deaths, something many people at risk of suicide long for. This mindset, disturbingly, could encourage more people to kill themselves.

Legalizing assisted suicide sends two messages. The first is that suicide is a good thing. Legalizing assisted suicide actually leads to an increase in the overall suicide rate. It turns out that watching people die by euthanasia and be hailed as heroes may influence other people to follow in their footsteps, right into the grave. The second message is that people with a diagnosis are a burden, and should want to die. This is clear by the fact that“>insurance companies in states with legalized assisted suicide will pay for patients to die, but not for treatment, or that people flock to movies romanticizing people with disabilities killing themselves.

If we are going to work towards preventing suicide, we need to stop glorifying it.

All suicides are tragedies. Not just the students stressed out by schoolwork. Not just the children being bullied at school. Not just the teenage girl who was dumped by her boyfriend. Not just the deaths of the young and the pretty — the ones who had “everything going for them.”

All human beings need to be protected from suicide, and be treated with the respect they deserve. No one deserves to be denied of hope and a future… no matter how short that future may be.

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