Assisted suicide

A contentious issue and back in the news today. While suicide is a deeply unpalatable idea, for some, it feels like a real and only solution and I recall a discussion we had a while ago about how to identify people with learning disabilities whose pain and distress were so extreme but whose lives were so controlled that suicide was not an option. It is hard to be clear, but if we are to make any headway with matters of choice, consent, and ownership of our own bodies, we must step up to the plate and discuss it openly. This is from my Good Question blog post today:

In very many cases, it seems evident to people outside of this awfulness that the situation is temporary: bullying will stop, shame is not worth dying for, depression can lift with the right support, and some things can be lived with, (see Grassroots suicide prevention for ongoing discussions). But what if the condition is intolerable and it is permanent, and – critically – there is nothing that can be done for a given individual to alleviate that? What are we to say to the person living with that burden? more here

I have seen people die in surgery, in intensive care, in wards at night, and in the middle of a busy consultant’s round yet completely alone. I have seen deaths held in abeyance by heroic efforts, and hastened by medication. I have seen deaths from trauma and disease, acute and chronic. Doing our best for people is the one final kindness we can offer. But to do our best, we need to know what that is from the most rational perspective possible and accept that it may not be what we would wish.


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