Suicide coverage missed a critical point | Guest Column

by Jack M. Pedigo

Special to the Sounder

The Feb. 28, 2018: Headline “Helping those in a crisis” missed a critical discussion. I find this is another example of a complex issue being shaped by simple ideas. It obfuscated how one deals with terminating one’s life in a dignified and low impact manner. When choices are withheld people resort to any means at hand which often becomes traumatic for everyone! Choices are almost non-existent for those facing a life of suffering and misery. It is said 2/3 of those wishing to end their lives, usually due to a serious, debilitating illness, are persuaded not to by loved ones. This only prolongs the inevitable end and the accompanying suffering for all involved including the society that eventually has to use finite and dwindling resources. This becomes a draining situation for all. One major resource ignored is the financial burden needed to sustain one’s life and that burden becomes egregious when the suffering is what is extended. To spend often exorbitant costs to extend another’s suffering, especially when it is for one’s own desires, is just plain wrong.

For the mental health interventions mentioned I ask is who is going to pay for this? Our mental health budget has become almost non-existent. Who pays when people, with mental health issue problems, come from other countries and who can’t speak the language of the host country? Again, complex questions.

True, our state is one of only five states that have a Death with Dignity program, which is unconscionable for the other states. It also does not go far enough. The Netherlands have an enhanced version of Death with Dignity and a further conversation needs to be had here. The older generation is exploding and more resources will be needed and more suffering will happen unless we come up with more choice options.

The inclusion of PeaceHealth hospital only exacerbates the problem. When religion intrudes on a state it imposes its own brand of morality. This excludes the huge and growing number of those who do subscribe to a religion and even undercuts our secular Constitution and form of society.

To say that euthanasia programs are unnatural and goes against (a) gods plan, while at the same time, using all 21st century means to extend a life is pure hypocrisy. If one believes suffering is a part of (a) gods plan, I say, let them. For the rest of us we need more, humane choices (we use the word “humane” when putting suffering animals down but forget the concept when allowing one a choice in ending their own life). Absent those choices the only alternative is a shocking, unmanaged and costly suicide. We must not kid ourselves, the situation will only get worse absent additional solutions.

We talk a lot about resiliency. Do our present lack of policies helping the terminally ill deal with their own lives add to or subtract from our social resiliency? We need a more inclusive and honest discussion on this issue. We need a discussion that is absent from superstition and myth and someone else’s wants. Peace and empathy are not achieved by extending other’s sufferings and lack of choices in what’s important in their lives and deaths!