State-sanctioned suicide, Switzerland

June 13, 2007

I read this article today, from LifeSite, about how assisted suicide is a legal right in Switzerland, one that extends to people who have a chronic mental illness. My first thought about this is that it’s a pretty evolved perspective for a government and community to take: if die we must, why shouldn’t people have the right to determine when and how death comes to us? Many would praise a heroic sacrifice and at the same time condemn the assisted death of someone suffering from cancer, or an incurable depression; then advocate euthanasia for animals as a ‘humane’ practice. I’m not criticizing one way or the other – I have my own beliefs, based on my own experiences, and think everyone else is entitled to their own thoughts on the matter – I’m simply pointing out that just sorting out the seeming contradictions involved in something like this, let alone making a concrete determination on the morality of it, is a pretty complicated endeavor; and I find Switzerland’s position in the matter, essentially allowing this decision to rest with the individual rather than with the State, to be a bold measure.

The article I read pointed out something from the counter-perspective, though, that I feel is worth considering: the evaluation of <inserting my own label here> death-clients, determining whether or not the wish to die is a genuine wish from a lucid and balanced perspective, or a function of a depressed state, is something that should probably take longer than half a day’s time. The article cites cases where a death-client would show up to the clinic in the morning and be dead before dinner – I think that’s a bit hasty. At a going rate of €3500, this is also a potentially lucrative field … and that kind of money could easily motivate some to push the threshold of judgment in the evaluation process, or simply bypass it.

Societal pressures, and how these pressures might eventually encourage a person to end life as a matter of social convenience is also brought up in this article. In theory, I can see where this could come to pass, and I think it’s something that would have to be more closely legislated, along with the evaluation procedures, to protect those people whom society may deem inconvenient. In the end, though, this kind of pressure can exist without a state-sanctioned suicide and the result is teenagers committing suicide because they don’t look enough like what they see in movies, don’t live up to their own parents’ expectations, or because they <gasp> dare to be individuals: the real legislation needs to be applied to the mainstream approach to what the article refers to as ‘weaker’ or inconvenient people.


One comment

  1. That is an interesting question and my answer to it, although i am not an expert, except by virtue of having been bipolar for a great many years, NY yES we would because we have a deep need to fit into a world we can never fit into.

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