“Right to die” battle taken to the supreme court

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The widow of a man with locked-in syndrome and a paralysed former builder are fighting for the right to die in the supreme court.

Jane Nicklinson and Paul Lamb (above) have gone to the supreme court seeking a ruling that disabled people should have the right to be helped to die with dignity.

Nine justices are analysing the issue at a hearing in London expected to last four days and are due to announce a ruling next year.

A spokesman for the court said justices were being asked to decide if a prohibition on assisted suicide as outlined in the 1961 Suicide Act was compatible with the right to respect for private and family life enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights.

The pair have argued that the law should include a "defence of necessity" and that doctors should be allowed to assist suicide when people have a "voluntary, clear, settled and informed" wish to end their life but are unable do so without medical assistance.

Written By: 4 News
continue to source article at channel4.com

83 COMMENTS

  1. This is probably the toughest, most thought provoking topic in medial science right now. Without question it needs much reasoned debate and most importantly no interference from religion.

    • It needs no interference from religion, but they’ll invade anything they think they can and should.
      In reply to #1 by Miserablegit:

      This is probably the toughest, most thought provoking topic in medial science right now. Without question it needs much reasoned debate and most importantly no interference from religion.

  2. I do not understand why is bureaucracy so complicated? Aren’t we all a sole owners of our lives? Why there is no some statement that you can sign, in which you say that medical doctors are not to blame when they put you to sleep forever. I do not know anything about “prohibition on assisted suicide”, but I think that people should be allowed to die with help of medicine, because medicine exists in order to solve someone’s pain. “Pain” and “patient” are words that have same root.

    • In reply to #4 by Modesti:

      I do not understand why is bureaucracy so complicated? Aren’t we all a sole owners of our lives? Why there is no some statement that you can sign, in which you say that medical doctors are not to blame when they put you to sleep forever. I do not know anything about “prohibition on assisted suicide”…

      It’s less about bureaucracy and more to do with the state of mind of the person wishing to die. If you were paralyzed in an accident for example, it’s natural that you would become quite depressed. If suicide were state-sanctioned, if the taboo surrounding it disappeared, if it became the easy option, those in a depressive state who otherwise might get better and go on to have wonderful, fulfilling lives might not get that chance.

      Given what’s at stake, I think the more bureaucracy surrounding this, the better. It’s a bit like adoption in that sense: make the process as difficult as possible and only the ones who stick with it and aren’t just doing it on a whim benefit from it. Everyone else gets weeded out.

      As an aside, I actually find this Paul Lamb character a lot less sympathetic than Tony Nicklinson.

      • In reply to #5 by Katy Cordeth:

        If suicide were state-sanctioned, if the taboo surrounding it disappeared, if it became the easy option, those in a depressive state who otherwise might get better and go on to have wonderful, fulfilling lives might not get that chance.

        No, the main legal problem here is that they require assistance. Suicide is legal.

        On a side note though, I’m entirely in favour of suicide booths. The earth is way too overpopulated.

    • In reply to #4 by Modesti:

      Well, yes. But, the services or actions we take should be in proportion to the problem we are trying to solve. You don’t have the right to get morphine from your doctor because you have a headache. Yes, it would take you pain away but most people consider it a way to extreme measure for the problem at hand. In the same way all people who want to get assisted suicide in order to get rid of their pain should not have the right to such an extreme measure. This all or nothing approach that you seem to promote seems very bizarre to me.

      I do not understand why is bureaucracy so complicated? Aren’t we all a sole owners of our lives? Why there is no some statement that you can sign, in which you say that medical doctors are not to blame when they put you to sleep forever. I do not know anything about “prohibition on assisted suicide”…

  3. Jane Nicklinson and Paul Lamb (above) have gone to the supreme court seeking a ruling that disabled people should have the right to be helped to die with dignity.

    There was an earlier discussion of this topic here:-
    http://old.richarddawkins.net/articles/646790-no-precedent-then-set-one

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9492991/Tony-Nicklinson-dies-saying-Goodbye-world-the-time-has-come.-Ive-had-some-fun.html

    He repeatedly described his life as “not worth living” and maintained that he should be allowed to “die with dignity” and chose the timing of his death.

    And it emerged following his death that he had been refusing food since learning that his case had been rejected, compounding the effects of pneumonia for which he had already declined medication.

    But it was far from the manner of death he would have chosen.

    While he had previously spoken about starving himself to death if he lost his case, last week his family described the prospect of starvation as “horrific”.

    He said last week that he was preparing to continue his legal battle but Mrs Nicklinson made clear that “the fight seemed to go out of him” once he learnt of the ruling on Tuesday of last week.

    The former businessman, who once enjoyed skydiving and playing rugby, was left almost completely paralysed after a catastrophic stroke seven years ago.

    Tony Niklinson had to starve himself to death because religious prats had obstructed the necessary law reforms which would allow assisted suicide.

    • In reply to #8 by Alan4discussion:

      While he had previously spoken about starving himself to death if he lost his case, last week his family described the prospect of starvation as “horrific”.

      It makes me sad to read that starvation seemed to be his only option. My dad had a massive stroke earlier this year and was not going to make it without some crazy medical assistance. The doctor told us that we couldn’t do anything to give him an easy passing, because that would be “killing” him, but we could decide to withhold food and water, which would let him die “naturally”. The second option seemed absolutely horrific and barbaric.

      In the end, he was unable to clear his throat, so he died of suffocation, which was also horrific.

      But at least we did not “kill” him.

      • In reply to #22 by Kim Probable:

        The doctor told us that we couldn’t do anything to give him an easy passing, because that would be “killing” him, but we could decide to withhold food and water, which would let him die “naturally”.

        Bugger could have at least prescribed some Fentanyl, in my experience it makes you forget to breathe.

        • In reply to #23 by Peter Grant:

          Bugger could have at least prescribed some Fentanyl, in my experie…

          They put him on morphine to help keep him unconscious, but he kept opening his eyes while trying to breathe. I don’t know how mindful he was of what was happening, but it was horrible to watch.

          • In reply to #30 by Kim Probable:

            They put him on morphine to help keep him unconscious, but he kept opening his eyes while trying to breathe. I don’t know how mindful he was of what was happening, but it was horrible to watch.

            I feel for you, but I’m sorry I have to say this for the benefit of others:

            It was probably pretty horrible for him too. THEY probably didn’t give him enough.

          • In reply to #31 by Peter Grant:

            It was probably pretty horrible for him too. THEY probably didn’t give him enough.

            It’s possible. I kept telling the nurse and she said they couldn’t up the dose because that would be killing him. (He was unable to communicate, though he had some emotional response to certain things that would happen, so we couldn’t really ask him anything despite knowing that he had at least some comprehension.) The whole experience of watching my parents die has made me terrified of death. We go to such great lengths to keep people alive in horrible conditions, but we don’t seem comfortable with the idea of helping them die peacefully.

          • I am so sorry that your dad had to experience that and have no help in his time of greatest need. Also the anguish that you and your family suffered.This is just horribly wrong.In reply to #33 by Kim Probable:*

            In reply to #31 by Peter Grant:

            It was probably pretty horrible for him too. THEY probably didn’t give him enough.

            It’s possible. I kept telling the nurse and she said they couldn’t up the dose because that would be killing him. (He was unable to communicate, though he had some emotional response…

  4. People who can consent and whose quality of life cannot be restored should have possibility to die painless death, surrounded by family and friends. Those who yell “Nazis!” are, paradoxically, torturing of these suffering people themselves.

  5. In reply to #5 by Katy Cordeth:
    ” make the process as difficult as possible and only the ones who stick with it and aren’t just doing it on a whim benefit from it.”

    Why would “my suicide” be anyone else preoccupation? It is only mine. :) It is my life and I am to do what ever I wish with it; isn’t it? I think that hospitals should have a department for euthanasia also. If you do not wish to live any more, you can be put to sleep forever. Why not? Dear Katy I do not think that suicide is “easy option” but it is ONLY option when one is depressive :). When a person has choice that person is consider free and alive so to speak, but depressive person has no choice; depression is a lack of expression. :)

    • In reply to #10 by Modesti:

      In reply to #5 by Katy Cordeth:
      ” make the process as difficult as possible and only the ones who stick with it and aren’t just doing it on a whim benefit from it.”

      Why would “my suicide” be anyone else preoccupation? It is only mine. :) It is my life and I am to do what ever I wish with it; isn’t…

      Suicide is not the only option when one is depressive. There are plenty of courses of action available to those suffering from depression: medication, therapy. I find your remark, and your subsequent post, distasteful. Is your life really so cheap? Is everyone else’s. Comments like this make me think evolution may have targeted non-believers for extinction.

      • In reply to #12 by Katy Cordeth:

        I find your remark, and your subsequent post, distasteful.

        I’m not sure I agree with (or even fully understand) the latter half of Modesti’s post, but the first part I agree with. Suicide should be the choice of the person who wishes to end their lives and making them wade through layers of bureaucracy is just, well, mean. What gives government the right to meddle in my affairs if I choose to end my life? That’s my call. I’m not hurting anyone else (besides, perhaps, emotionally, but that’s not an objection unless you would also plan to introduce the same level of bureaucracy for dumping someone you’re in a relationship with).

        If I were in a state like some of those described, I would probably choose suicide. If, for example, I were in Professor Hawking’s position, I would almost certainly have checked out long ago. Granted (were I as smart as he) the world would have lost some great contributions but so what. I don’t owe the world anything and if I didn’t want to live like that, I shouldn’t have to just because others want me to.

        To be honest, I can’t think of any right more fundamental than the right to death – it’s the absolute corollary of the right to life, from which all other rights then flow. If you can’t even choose to end your own life then you’re essentially chattel of those who control that choice.

        • In reply to #13 by BenS:

          Suicide should be the choice of the person who wishes to end their lives and making them wade through layers of bureaucracy is just, well, mean. What gives government the right to meddle in my affairs if I choose to end my life? That’s my call. I’m not hurting anyone else

          That isn’t clear to me. If we give you the freedom you want there are lots of potential negative consequences. For example:

          • Depressed people will kill themselves instead of getting treatment for the depression

          • People who feel a burden on their families may kill themselves

          • People may be pressured into killing themselves by relatives

          • Governments may cut funding and research on palliative care

          I’m not trying to defend the current situation but I don’t think it’s possible to allow suicide without safeguards.

          Michael

          PS: I recommend to everyone Eric MacDonald’s website.

      • In reply to #12 by Katy Cordeth:

        Suicide is not the only option when one is depressive. There are plenty of courses of action available to those suffering from depression: medication, therapy.

        Plenty?….

        Here’s the thing. People who do not suffer from depression tend to perceive it as “just another ailment” that can be cured easily with medication or treatment like the flu or a broken leg. Unfortunately it’s not that simple.

        Medication. Sure. Medication can help but it doesn’t really cure depression and it comes at a price: serious side effects not the least of which is possible addiction. But the worst side-effect is that a very big part of one’s personality is “shorted” by medication. I’ve witnessed what that medication can do and it’s pretty sad.

        Therapy. Sure. This may help but the bottom line is this: your mileage may vary. Since everyone is different, there is no sure approach to helping someone with depression and let’s face it, some therapists simply aren’t competent or caring enough to be of any help. Also, therapy is very expensive and not covered by health insurance (at least not where I live) so some people simply can’t afford it.

        One thing that can help for sure is genuine care and understanding from family and friends. But here again, your mileage may vary. Dealing with a depressive person is time consuming and VERY demanding emotionally and very few people are prepared or even able to do that.

        People suffering from chronic depression often end up alone because their behavior and personality is repellent to most people. And sadly, this is the absolute worst thing that can happen to them. The loneliness and sense of hopelessness often drives them to suicidal thoughts which deepens the depression even more. They can end up in a situation where they suffer just as much as terminally ill cancer patients with no chance of getting better.

        • In reply to #26 by NearlyNakedApe:

          A very good explanation. :) I am over twenty years manic-depressive,… more than a half of my life, and I have received treatment as much as I could afford :),… but it is not enough. It seams that one can get help only while your budget can sustain. Sadly. This is obviously a possible theme for another discussion, but thank you. Your words suggest that you know this matter of depression rather well. ;)

        • In reply to #26 by NearlyNakedApe:

          Studies show over and over again that depression is one of those very rare mental illnesses that actually have a good prognosis. In other words most people who suffer from depression can get cured. That is a luxury most people with mental illnesses can’t dream of. No, of course not all people with depression will be cured. Some forms of depression can’t be cured for the time being. Nonetheless most people will get cured from depression, if they get the right treatment. The most common drugs (SSRI:s) used to treat depression rarely have severe side-effects, and they do not cause addiction. No, depression definitely isn’t “just another ailment”. It’s a very serious illness. In fact one of the most deadly diseases of our time. That said, it’s also one of the few mental illnesses that have a quite good prognosis. We should embrace this fact. Especially when dealing with depressive people who have little or no ability to construct a meaningful future by themselves. People suffering from depression don’t need people to feel sorry for them. They need people to give them hope. From my own experience depressive people have a tendency to find other depressive people who also feel the only way out is suicide. This only serves as confirmation that their disease can’t be cured, or even worse that they don’t really have a disease. To allow assisted suicide to depressive people is the worst thing you can possible do. It’s pretty much the same as to say that there is no other way out. How on earth is it going to help people suffering from depression if the society pretty much throws in the towel on them?

          In reply to #12 by Katy Cordeth:

          Suicide is not the only option when one is depressive. There are plenty of courses of action available to those suffering from depression: medication, therapy.

          Plenty?….

          Here’s the thing. People who do not suffer from depression tend to perceive it as “just anot…

    • In reply to #10 by Modesti:

      Erh? Stop making these silly remarks with regard to depression. There are many forms of depression. You can’t just lump all depressive people into this weird category that more seem to reflect your own limited experience than an informed opinion. Depression in essence is a mental illness. The inability to construct a meaningful future. Do you really think assisted suicide is the most proper service we as a society can give to suicidal people suffering from depression? Yes, not all suicidal people suffer from depression but studies show the great majority do. Studies also show that depression is a mental illness that (in contrast to most mental illnesses) actually have a quite good prognosis. Most people suffering from depression can get cured. This goes even for deeply depressed suicidal individuals. But, you still think the best service to give to these people is assisted suicide?

      In reply to #5 by Katy Cordeth:
      ” make the process as difficult as possible and only the ones who stick with it and aren’t just doing it on a whim benefit from it.”

      Why would “my suicide” be anyone else preoccupation? It is only mine. :) It is my life and I am to do what ever I wish with it; isn’t…

  6. That people attach different values to existence is not surprising given the diversity of experience.

    There needs to be a serious debate on this and quickly. If someone is terminally ill and in great pain then I cannot see why any humane person would intervene to delay the inevitable. People who are paralysed by injury or disease will prove harder to resolve in my view but guide lines need to be established to protect people from those who would take advantage and yet permit an exit for those that have had enough without criminalising themselves or their carers.

    Why religions should be allowed to interfere is beyond my reasoning, they more than any have done as much as they can to trivialise this life.

  7. Please let’s not make this a discussion about “allowing” suicide. People commit suicide and will continue to do so whether we “allow” them to or not and often make a bloody mess in the process. The issue at hand is whether or not to prosecute medical professionals for assisting people, especially disabled people, to commit suicide. Please note that this is already happening in most hospitals, where doctors and nurses risk their careers and even their liberty to ease suffering.

    Regarding depression, I have been depressed all my life and have never even once considered killing myself.

    • In reply to #16 by Peter Grant:

      Just to point out that this comment has been edited, it seems by the Mods. I think the previous version was funnier, but it should still possible to read between the lines…

  8. In reply to #14 by mmurray:

    Afternoon, Michael. :)

    In order (because I’m too stupid to figure out a bulleted quoted response):

    a) They may, but that’s their choice. Support should be put in place for depressed people but they shouldn’t be forced to take ‘treatment’ for their depression before they’re allowed to exercise their freedom to auto-euthanise.

    b) They may, but, again, that’s their choice. Some people ARE a burden on their families and may well choose not to be. If there is no state supported option and the choice is either be a burden or end your own life then the choice should be up to them. If I’m old and a constant burden on my kids because I invested all my money in hookers and blackjack (and the rest I wasted) I may well wish to die rather than be a millstone around my kids’ neck until my body eventually naturally packs in. It should be my choice.

    c) This is the one of your four bullets that is the biggest concern to me. However, we already have safeguards around what constitutes a valid will (to be enacted upon natural death). If they’re good enough for ensuring that your will was created when you were in sound mind to be enforced post death then they would be a good foundation for ensuring likewise pre death. They would need beefing up some, I would imagine, but its a starting point. But yes, this is a concern.

    d) Objection, speculation! I don’t think it’s very likely, but given that I’m basing my thoughts on a similar level of evidence as yours (i.e. none) I think we can pretty much assume that neither of us can give any weight to this so we can drop it. Which is a shame, ‘cos I had a great analogy about how legislating compulsory seatbelts may cause the government to cut funding into research into glass trauma.

    I wasn’t suggesting that no safeguards at all should exist, but I was objecting to Katy’s notion of burying someone who wants to auto-euthanise in bureaucracy until they give up. They’ve already given up, that’s why they want to check out. Why make it as miserable as possible for them to end a life they’re clearly not happy with?

    Life is precious – but when we get to the point that someone else’s life is more precious to us than it is to them and we use this as justification to override their personal wishes then something’s gone wrong somewhere along the line.

    • In reply to #17 by BenS:
      >

      c) This is the one of your four bullets that is the biggest concern to me. However, we already have safeguards around what constitutes a valid will (to be enacted upon natural death). If they’re good enough for ensuring that your will was created when you were in sound mind to be enforced post death then they would be a good foundation for ensuring likewise pre death. They would need beefing up some, I would imagine, but its a starting point. But yes, this is a concern.

      On my links to earlier discussions, you will see that in states where assisted suicide is legal, there are regulations governing ethical conduct.

      This comment of mine picked out Xtian opposition, and the result of the Zurich referendum – http://old.richarddawkins.net/comments/637630.

      • Some 85 percent of the 278,000 votes cast were against proposals to ban assisted suicide, while 78 percent opposed outlawing the practice for foreigners.
      • In the U.S., physician-assisted suicide is legal in the states of Oregon, Montana and Washington.

      http://www.christianpost.com/news/switzerland-votes-against-ban-on-assisted-suicide-50249/

      In countries like Switzerland where the people understand the issues, it seems there is strong support even when Xtian busy-bodies try to legislate against it.

    • In reply to #17 by BenS:

      In reply to #14 by mmurray:

      Afternoon, Michael. :)

      HI Ben

      a) They may, but that’s their choice. Support should be put in place for depressed people but they shouldn’t be forced to take ‘treatment’ for their depression before they’re allowed to exercise their freedom to auto-euthanise.

      I’m not so sure about this one. Some severe depression can be treated and people go onto live happy lives. We intervene for the same reason we intervene in any other critical medical event. Depression is just a critical event in the brain. You could regard our treating people as no different to restarting the heart when it wants to stop.

      b) If I’m old and a constant burden on my kids because I invested all my money in hookers and blackjack

      I thought it was Welsh gymnasts ?

      c) This is the one of your four bullets that is the biggest concern to me. However, we already have safeguards around what constitutes a valid will (to be enacted upon natural death). If they’re good enough for ensuring that your will was created when you were in sound mind to be enforced post death then they would be a good foundation for ensuring likewise pre death. They would need beefing up some, I would imagine, but its a starting point. But yes, this is a concern.

      But I think you are right it is the easiest to deal with. Coercion to euthanasia could easily be made a crime or just treated as murder. You could coerce someone now to suicide and I assume that would be murder or maybe manslaughter.

      d) Objection, speculation!

      Objection overruled! It’s a judgement call I guess. I can imagine it happening but I agree I have no evidence. I wonder what the experience in Europe has been ?

      On the plus side I think going into a nasty terminal disease knowing that euthanasia is always an option would help the suffering. Luckily I haven’t had to test this theory.. Just hope I don’t inherit my father’s alzheimers !

      Speaking of which do you ever look at StrangeNotions ? They seem as crazy as ever.

      Michael

      • In reply to #44 by mmurray:

        G’day, cobber! (I’m getting in practice for when I retire to Straya.)

        You could regard our treating people as no different to restarting the heart when it wants to stop.

        Except the heart isn’t making a conscious decision to stop. A more accurate analogy would be treating a sentient heart which is begging you to be allowed to stop and you forcing it to continue beating against its will. That’s the bit I have issue with.

        If someone wants to seek treatment, then support should be there for them. If they just want to stop, they should be allowed to do so.

        I thought it was Welsh gymnasts ?

        I didn’t have to pay for her…

        Coercion to euthanasia could easily be made a crime or just treated as murder. You could coerce someone now to suicide and I assume that would be murder or maybe manslaughter.

        Exactly. It might be difficult to police properly (as the one person you’d want to interview to determine if coercion took place would be unavailable for comment) but that shouldn’t be a reason not to do it. We should tackle the issues head on, not shy from them because they look tough.

        Objection overruled!

        If you’re taking the side of either prosecution or defence (I’ve no idea who’s playing which part here) then you can’t really overrule the objection, that’s kinda for the judge to do. You ain’t the judge. :p

        Just hope I don’t inherit my father’s alzheimers !

        For what it’s worth, I hope you don’t either.

        This is another tricky part – if I contracted or developed something that affected my mind, I may want to end my life before I cease being what I recognise as me. However, the very thing affecting me is the very thing that might be influencing my thinking. Tricky issue.

        Also made trickier with the current availability of things like cryonics. What if I knew I was in the early stages of something that could ravage my mind and then chose to die and be frozen in the hope that a cure could be found? The longer I leave it, the more my mind is changing away from what I recognise as me – and if the law won’t let me then the very thing I’m trying to protect is gradually being eroded by their dithering.

        Science is progressing much faster than the law in cases like this.

        Speaking of which do you ever look at StrangeNotions ? They seem as crazy as ever.

        I keep going back to have a read but, honestly, it gives me rage. Whatever the intention of that site, it’s certainly failed to have the desired effect on me. Reading a recent thread that ended up discussing homosexual marriage made my blood boil. This religion, this Catholicism (you can read that as though I was spitting as I said it), has turned what would otherwise be decent enough human beings into hate machines.

        I have seldom seen such utterly indefensible shite spewed forth to justify a stance that has NO justification other than the Church says so. To see people trying to defend such bigotry makes me sick.

        What can men do against such reckless hate?

        On the plus side – even after the exodus of the atheists – there are still a couple there providing a spirited defence of rationality’; Geena and Josh are always worth reading and Nickol makes well considered posts (though I’m still not sure why he doesn’t self-identify as an atheist).

        Anyway, rather than derail this discussion, if you want to gossip about SN from the vantage of spectators then I’m sure the mods will furnish you with my eMail address. Is that how things work around here?

        • In reply to #46 by BenS:

          In reply to #44 by mmurray:

          G’day, cobber! (I’m getting in practice for when I retire to Straya.)

          Bewdy! You can’t usually get email addresses. But I think you have summarised the Strange Notions situation perfectly. I did notice an article posted by Brandon saying he had managed to turn our hard work into a job!

          Michael

          • In reply to #72 by mmurray:

            Bewdy! You can’t usually get email addresses.

            Well, without a private messaging service on these God forsaken forums*, how do people contact each other then? Madness!

            But I think you have summarised the Strange Notions situation perfectly. I did notice an article posted by Brandon saying he had managed to turn our hard work into a job!

            Yes, I saw that. Well, good for him – if he can cobble a site together and get a load of people to write content for him, off the back of which he gets a cushy number surround by like minded people then I’d say he’s done alright out of it.

            I’m still disappointed that none of the discussions on there ever reach a resolution and then the same points keep cropping up later after the reset button has been pressed. It’s not possible to judge how many (if any) lurkers have been prompted to reconsider their beliefs but the key commenters on there don’t appear to have shifted greatly in any direction. Ho hum.


            • See what I did there?
    • In reply to #17 by BenS:

      In reply to #14 by mmurray:

      …I wasn’t suggesting that no safeguards at all should exist, but I was objecting to Katy’s notion of burying someone who wants to auto-euthanise in bureaucracy until they give up. They’ve already given up, that’s why they want to check out. Why make it as miserable as possible for them to end a life they’re clearly not happy with?

      The point about miring people in bureaucracy was to ensure that those who are recently depressed have time to come to terms with their condition and recognise that there can be a light at the end of the tunnel.

      I’m perhaps fortunate never to have suffered from clinical depression, although frankly, finding out how little some atheists seem to value human life depresses me no end; I sincerely hope none of them ever volunteers to man a Samaritans hotline. I make a dark joke about suicide booths and it’s all “Hey, what a good idea”; “Yeah, I’m in favor of that, too!” Wretched.

      But I have experienced the usual slings and arrows which life hurls at all of us: bereavement, the end of romantic relationships, etc. The overwhelming emotion that accompanies events like these is the sense that one will never be happy again; one’s life is in effect over.

      Feelings like these tend to be particularly strong in our species’ young, who haven’t had the time to build up emotional defenses. Stories concerning bullied children who commit suicide are ten a penny on the internet, and thanks to modern technology we now have the phenomenon of cyberbullying. A kid will be harassed on Twitter or Facebook, and instead of deleting her account or blocking the bullies’ accounts, or getting her parents or school involved, necks a bottle of sleeping pills. All those alternative options were available to her, but she wasn’t able to avail herself of them because she was unable to see hope in her future.

      Things change. They get better. And yes, NearlyNakedApe, @26, there are plenty of options for the depressed.

      ‘Auto-euthanise’, by the way, is one of the creepiest euphemisms I’ve ever heard.

      • In reply to #47 by Katy Cordeth:

        Maybe I’m a bit wet behind the ears around here, but do you really think that those of us who support euthanasia want some futurama version of suicide booths standing on the streetcorners?

        Things change. They get better.

        Things change. They get worse. That is the simple fact of life for many of our fellow humans. How much pain should they endure on our behalf against their own will because we simply won’t push the button out of fear of mistakes?

        Off course we need safeguards and rigorous medical attention to those afflicted. How exactly to do this is something we need to figure out together, but first and foremost we need to be honest we eachother and recognize the fact that many people are living in unbearable agony, with no sight of relief against their own will. Do we continue to ignore them because life is sacred?

        • In reply to #48 by DHudson:

          Off course we need safeguards and rigorous medical attention to those afflicted. How exactly to do this is something we need to figure out together, but first and foremost we need to be honest we eachother and recognize the fact that many people are living in unbearable agony with no sight of relief against their own will. Do we continue to ignore them because life is sacred?

          As far as “things get better” I agree they don’t always. But for me there is even a more fundamental point. What right does the state have to tell me “thing get better”. That is the real argument, that people have some fundamental rights as long as they don’t egregiously harm others. Foremost on those rights is, or at least should be, the right to decide when your life should end. Saying “life is sacred” is just an emotional outburst not a rational argument.

          • In reply to #49 by Red Dog:

            As far as “things get better” I agree they don’t always. But for me there is even a more fundamental point. What right does the state have to tell me “thing get better”. That is the real argument, that people have some fundamental rights as long as they don’t egregiously harm others. Foremost on those rights is, or at least should be, the right to decide when your life should end. Saying “life is sacred” is just an emotional outburst not a rational argument.

            I agree. It is the one thing we know will happen to each and every one of us, and yet we cannot bring ourselves to get some basic rights about death written down because we are afraid, and have little experience in dealing with these issues.

            It really grinds my gears….

      • In reply to #47 by Katy Cordeth:

        ‘Auto-euthanise’, by the way, is one of the creepiest euphemisms I’ve ever heard.

        I’m not cherry picking your post; I’ll respond to the rest later but I wanted to quickly respond to this before before I shoot off out to get drunk and fall over.

        It isn’t a euphemism. I’ve used ‘checking out’ as a euphemism, but I’ve also referred to suicide and to kill oneself. I used the phrase auto-euthanise because, unlike suicide, it’s not emotionally loaded with years of baggage – mostly foisted on us through centuries of religious saturation that suicide is a sin. It’s a neutral phrase derived from auto (one’s own) and euthanise (good death) – so to purposefully end one’s own life to reduce suffering. I know you could have looked that up, but I was saving others from doing so.

        I was attempting to remove the emotional baggage from the concept to facilitate rational discussion.

      • In reply to #47 by Katy Cordeth:

        The point about miring people in bureaucracy was to ensure that those who are recently depressed have time to come to terms with their condition and recognise that there can be a light at the end of the tunnel.

        That’s not how it read. You said “make the process as difficult as possible” – like the process should be an ordeal to be surmounted in order to prove that you really, really want this. Seems more punitive than helping to ‘see the light’.

        I sincerely hope none of them ever volunteers to man a Samaritans hotline.

        I did once. Three people committed suicide on my shift – and one was a wrong number.

        A kid will be harassed on Twitter or Facebook, and instead of deleting her account or blocking the bullies’ accounts, or getting her parents or school involved, necks a bottle of sleeping pills

        Which seems to me why having a state-assisted program is a good idea. If a person can make a formal (and confidential) request to be painlessly killed, and that process involves at least some level of counselling and checks to determine if the person really does have a desire to die then they would have, at the very least, have passed through a course of counselling which may have talked them out of it. Surely this is better than a half-baked attempt at slicing their wrists or putting their head in an oven without any kind of support at all?

        Things change. They get better.

        Not always.

  9. Terry Pratchett , who is afflicted with a rare form of Alzheimers disease,delivered (or rather got a friend to deliver) a poignant speech on why he wishes to be helped to die before his disease destroys his mind (essentially who he is.)

    I was moved by this speech, thinking of all the unfortunate people dying by inches in unspeakable pain.People should have the right to die peacefully and with their dignity intact.I know I would prefer this compassionate death.

      • In reply to #21 by Peter Grant:

        What about the psychotic? Should they also be able to get assisted suicide if they like to?

        In reply to #19 by SPF:

        This may be an unpopular view..but Everybody should have the right to die.

        I’d sort of draw the line at children, unless they are terminally ill and suffering terrible pain.

        • In reply to #66 by Nunbeliever:

          What about the psychotic? Should they also be able to get assisted suicide if they like to?

          Sure, why not? Psychosis must suck. Most psychotics aren’t suicidal though, they’re too out of touch with reality.

          • In reply to #70 by Peter Grant:

            In reply to #66 by Nunbeliever:

            What about the psychotic? Should they also be able to get assisted suicide if they like to?

            Sure, why not? Psychosis must suck. Most psychotics aren’t suicidal though, they’re too out of touch with reality.

            “they’re too out of touch with reality.” What the fuck do you base that statement on? Pardon my French, but I just had it with your fucking bad attitude. Yes, you are depressed but this cynical pro-death attitude of yours just sucks. And you never present any real arguments or facts. Just your cynical morbid one-liners…

    • In reply to #19 by SPF:

      Well, everyone has the right to die and everyone will eventually die. Still, I don’t understand what this has to do with assisted suicide? Do you mean that an individual should be able to force another person (presumably a doctor or care giver) to kill him/her? That sounds quite bizarre to me.

      This may be an unpopular view..but Everybody should have the right to die.

      • In reply to #65 by Nunbeliever:

        Do you mean that an individual should be able to force another person (presumably a doctor or care giver) to kill him/her? That sounds quite bizarre to me.

        Who said anything about forcing? Some people would have no problems ending another human being’s life if they asked to be put out of their misery. If that person is completely paralysed but for their eyes and are indicating, quite clearly through the use of technology, that they are suffering and wish to be put to death then the bizarre thing seems to be refusing that request and insisting they suffer until they die of natural causes.

  10. When it comes to merciful easing of inevitable and lasting pain in the form of assisted termination, humans are known to treat their pets with greater care, and grant them rights which they will not bestow upon themselves.

    Furthermore societies will at times seek to criminalize, prosecute and incarcerate those who understand, respect and acknowledge another individuals right and wish to die if they decide to act upon what their expertise, experience, rationality and consciousness tells them.

    Why?

    Because human life is special and death is final….even for the religious.

    • In reply to #24 by DHudson:

      Because human life is special and death is final….even for the religious.

      Human life may be special for the religious, but for them death is only final in the way exams are for the secular. The religious have strange concepts like an “afterlife”. To humanists life is special because death is final.

      • In reply to #25 by Peter Grant:

        Human life may be special for the religions, but for them death is only final in the way exams are for the secular. The religious have strange concepts like an “afterlife”. To humanists life is special because death is final.

        I disagree. I believe many religious people has a Pascal’s Wager feeling about the idea of an afterlife. They want to believe in it, but in the back of their minds lies the question; What if I’m/they’re wrong?

        If the majority of people really and truly believed that an afterlife was real, then why is suicide not more widespread?

        Because their religion tells them that it is a sin.

        Why?

        Because a religion needs followers.

          • In reply to #28 by Peter Grant:

            In reply to #27 by DHudson:

            So what’s your point? You answer you own questions without answering mine.

            My bad.

            My point is that I think this fear of death is the reason why we’re wavering regarding this issue. That goes for many believers as well as for many non-believers.

            Furthermore I find it highly unethical that we as societies threaten doctors with prosecution for doing what should be considered a basic human right, namely assisting people in the right to die a quick and painless death.

          • In reply to #32 by DHudson:

            My bad.

            Thank You!

            My point is that that I think this fear of death is the reason why we’re wavering regarding this issue. That goes for many believers as well as for many non-believers.

            The only real fear is the fear of dying.

          • In reply to #34 by Peter Grant:

            The only real fear is the fear of dying.

            I know the feeling.

            What strikes me as rather sadistic and cruel is that we via the law force ourselves not to act on our common decency. Apparently we can all agree that pain and misery can be unbearable and lasting, but we lack the integrity and courage to actually act upon this knowledge. Instead we think of a thousand examples where death is not the answer because a cure or better times just might be ahead, ignoring the fact that that simply isn’t the case for many people.

    • In reply to #35 by Peter Grant:

      Oh Kim, my heart breaks for you! Were you in a hospital environment? Please remind me, which country are you from?

      Thanks.

      In the US – both of my parents were in the ICU in a hospital at the time of their deaths (though they were in different hospitals). My mom’s passing seemed a bit more peaceful, but that may have been just the way she went. Her blood pressure just kept slowly dropping, so she was fully unconscious, at least. I do wish we hadn’t done some of the interventions we did with her, though.

      I just want to tell people to really discuss what your loved ones want with them, and have them write it down. We didn’t have anything for my dad and making those decisions for him was awful. Had we decided to keep him alive, he would have had a feeding tube and a tracheal intubation to keep him breathing, and would have spent however many years in a nursing home having to deal with bed sores and someone cleaning up after him until something like pneumonia probably killed him. I think we made the best decision, I hope we did, but when the time came, we had no way to ask if that’s what he wanted. (And I personally don’t know if I could have made that decision for myself, had I been in that situation and able to communicate.)

      • In reply to #37 by Kim Probable:

        I just want to tell people to really discuss what your loved ones want with them, and have them write it down.

        Seconded.

        I’m sorry for your loss, Kim. For what it’s worth I think you made the right decision.

      • In reply to #37 by Kim Probable:

        And I personally don’t know if I could have made that decision for myself, had I been in that situation and able to communicate.

        I’ve watched people beg for death. It comes naturally, even to the devout. Please don’t feel guilty for your compassion, it’s what makes you a good person.

    • In reply to #41 by bluebird:

      Belgium becomes first country to allow euthanasia for terminally-ill children.

      From the article: “During a sometimes heated public debate in the run-up to the vote, religious leaders condemned the move as entering “a logic that leads to the destruction of society’s foundations.”

      And that, my fellow heathens, is why the idea of the sanctity of life is one of the most repulsive and disingenuous doctrines of religion.

      “Screw the living hell of children, our god is the foundation of the morality that (y)our socities are based upon and the words in our scriptures are all that stands between us and the savage past”.

      Religion; Condemning people to hell on earth since day 1.

  11. This is an emotionally tough subject for those of us taking care of family members with Stage IV cancer. Hitch used to remark that you can understand Stage IV by the simple fact that there is no Stage V. Some, like Hitch, want to hang in to the end, but others do not. Unfortunately, there is no way to give a prognosis that fits every individual, as those come from an average over a population that fits a particular presentation. You can be given a prognosis of months to live, but die in weeks or years, so the medical establishment is reluctant to sign off on assisted suicide for anyone who is still able to stay alive without mechanical assistance. Sadly, even if you refuse medical intervention, it can be a slow horrible process before death.

  12. In reply to #48 by DHudson:

    In reply to #47 by Katy Cordeth:

    Maybe I’m a bit wet behind the ears around here, but do you really think that those of us who support euthanasia want some futurama version of suicide booths standing on the streetcorners?

    The impression I get is that you want euthanasia to become easier under the law; to be deregulated to such an extent that it’s a free-for-all. Suicide booths is taking this to its logical conclusion. Do I think you want actual suicide booths on every street corner? I genuinely wonder about Peter, but no, I don’t think that. But only because it would be distasteful and you still wish to cling to the idea that what you support is dignified. It isn’t. There’s no dignity in suicide. I’m sorry, but there just isn’t.

    Things change. They get better.

    Things change. They get worse. That is the simple fact of life for many of our fellow humans.

    And they get better. We can keep going round in circles if you like. The point is, they change. None of us knows what’s going to happen tomorrow. The hope of a cure has kept countless HIV-positive patients from taking their own life. The hope of deliverance has kept concentration camp detainees against the odds from going insane. Suicide negates that.

    How much pain should they endure on our behalf against their own will because we simply won’t push the button out of fear of mistakes?

    That’s up to them. You’ve just acknowledged, though, that things can get worse. If this is true, it means their situation hasn’t become as untenable as it could.

    I seem to have given the impression that I’m not if favor of people having the right to die. I am. I’m just not for making it the easy option. It should be as difficult as possible. A good parallel to draw might be with convicts on death row in the States. There are years of appeals before the lethal cocktail is administered to the condemned. This helps to ensure he’s really guilty. Go to Texas and the process is much swifter; inmates are put to death before things have time to cool off and the result is, well, who knows how many innocents have gone to their death this way?

    Off course we need safeguards and rigorous medical attention to those afflicted. How exactly to do this is something we need to figure out together, but first and foremost we need to be honest we each other and recognize the fact that many people are living in unbearable agony, with no sight of relief against their own will. Do we continue to ignore them because life is sacred?

    I never said life is sacred. It is the only thing we have, though. One bite of the peach is all any of us gets. Is it incumbent on us to enjoy it? No. Is it our right to spit the thing out if we don’t like it or it has become too bitter to the palate for us to tolerate? Certainly. Do we… actually, I can’t manage to fit this into my rather labored analogy, so I’ll just say do we as a society have a responsibility to ensure that all other avenues for those in mental or physical pain have been thoroughly explored and suicide really is the last available option? You bet your life we do.

    There’s something else as well which I don’t think has really been addressed on this thread; related more to the mental health end of things probably than to the physically affected. To wit, should the right of sovereignty over our own life be absolute if by exercising it we destroy the lives of those who love us?

    And finally, before I hit submit, do you or anyone else think someone committed to a mental health facility who says he will kill himself the moment he’s released should be kept incarcerated indefinitely; and should staff be permitted to administer drugs against this person’s will if these have been shown to be effective in preventing suicide, and to have no deleterious effect on the patient’s physical health or personality?

    • In reply to #53 by Katy Cordeth:

      The impression I get is that you want euthanasia to become easier under the law; to be deregulated to such an extent that it’s a free-for-all. Suicide booths is taking this to its logical conclusion. Do I think you want actual suicide booths on every street corner? I genuinely wonder about Peter, but no, I don’t think that. But only because it would be distasteful and you still wish to cling to the idea that what you support is dignified. It isn’t. There’s no dignity in suicide. I’m sorry, but there just isn’t.

      What I want is honesty and an open debate about it. How the various procedures and regulations should be set up is a matter that needs research and funding. Suicide booths is not a logical conclusion, Katy. It is fiction and scaremongering.
      You speak of dignity so I’ll ask you to extend that dignity to those that cannot end their own lives by their own means.

      And they get better. We can keep going round in circles if you like. The point is, they change. None of us knows what’s going to happen tomorrow. The hope of a cure has kept countless HIV-positive patients from taking their own life. The hope of deliverance has kept concentration camp detainees against the odds from going insane. Suicide negates that.

      The hope of a cure doesn’t dissapear because assisted suicide is implemented into our medical care systems. And yes, we do know what will happen tomorrow because we’ve seen it a thousand times before. Pretending we do not is not a reasonable or honest approach to this issue.

      Btw, I seriously hope you did not just compare medical doctors to Nazi’s…..this is the internet, but please don’t.

      That’s up to them. You’ve just acknowledged, though, that things can get worse. If this is true, it means their situation hasn’t become as untenable as it could.

      That’s cold, imo. There are many people who cannot do it physically and you’re pretty much asking them to suck it up or go die somewhere else.

      I seem to have given the impression that I’m not if favor of people having the right to die. I am. I’m just not for making it the easy option. It should be as difficult as possible. A good parallel to draw might be with convicts on death row in the States. There are years of appeals before the lethal cocktail is administered to the condemned. This helps to ensure he’s really guilty. Go to Texas and the process is much swifter; inmates are put to death before things have time to cool off and the result is, well, who knows how many innocents have gone to their death this way?

      No it shouldn’t be difficult by definition. Each case should be treated according to the facts surrounding that case.

      I have a somewhat controversial question for you: If a confessed and convicted criminal is sentenced to die in jail with no possibility of parole whatsoever, should he/she then be forced to live for as long as possible untill we as societies are satisfied with the punishment?

      The death penalty should be voluntary imo, but let’s not digress.

      I never said life is sacred. It is the only thing we have, though. One bite of the peach is all any of us gets. Is it incumbent on us to enjoy it? No. Is it our right to spit the thing out if we don’t like it or it has become too bitter to the palate for us to tolerate? Certainly. Do we… actually, I can’t manage to fit this into my rather labored analogy, so I’ll just say do we as a society have a responsibility to ensure that all other avenues for those in mental or physical pain have been thoroughly explored and suicide really is the last available option? You bet your life we do.

      Off course we should, but that’s not the same as making it as difficult as possible. That is not treatment, that is oppression.

      There’s something else as well which I don’t think has really been addressed on this thread; related more to the mental health end of things probably than to the physically affected. To wit, should the right of sovereignty over our own life be absolute if by exercising it we destroy the lives of those who love us?

      And finally, before I hit submit, do you or anyone else think someone committed to a mental health facility who says he will kill himself the moment he’s released should be kept incarcerated indefinitely; and should staff be permitted to administer drugs against this person’s will if these have been shown to be effective in preventing suicide, and to have no deleterious effect on the patient’s physical health or personality?

      No I don’t think a person suffering from mental health problems should be given a deadly injection because they demand it. But I do think we need to discuss the issue and hopefully as our science and technology evolve, we’ll be able to treat mental ailments as a purely biological problem with a much greater succes rate in curing people.

    • In reply to #53 by Katy Cordeth:

      I seem to have given the impression that I’m not if favor of people having the right to die. I am. I’m just not for making it the easy option. It should be as difficult as possible.

      Saying “it should be as difficult as possible” isn’t really very meaningful either IMO. I mean if you actually meant that then you would want it to be illegal because that is “as difficult as possible”, when the state wants to make something (e.g. murder) “as difficult as possible” they pass laws against it. What I think you mean is there should be significant checks and balances and a process in place to make sure no one is getting assisted suicide help who really needs better antidepressants or some other remedy. I agree with that of course.

      A good parallel to draw might be with convicts on death row in the States. There are years of appeals before the lethal cocktail is administered to the condemned. This helps to ensure he’s really guilty. Go to Texas and the process is much swifter; inmates are put to death before things have time to cool off and the result is, well, who knows how many innocents have gone to their death this way?

      I think that’s a bad example because IMO the death penalty shouldn’t exist at all. So in that case I do want to make it “as difficult as possible” because I just don’t want the state to execute people. That actually is my fear is that people who say it should be “as difficult as possible” really mean that they don’t want it to happen and that like the GOP in many states have done in regard to abortion will do everything they can to make sure the legal requirements are so extreme that in reality no one has the option.

      • In reply to #59 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #53 by Katy Cordeth:

        I seem to have given the impression that I’m not if favor of people having the right to die. I am. I’m just not for making it the easy option. It should be as difficult as possible.

        Saying “it should be as difficult as possible” isn’t really very meaningful either IMO. I mean if you actually meant that then you would want it to be illegal because that is “as difficult as possible”, when the state wants to make something (e.g. murder) “as difficult as possible” they pass laws against it. What I think you mean is there should be significant checks and balances and a process in place to make sure no one is getting assisted suicide help who really needs better antidepressants or some other remedy. I agree with that of course.

        If you’re determined to be pedantic then, yeah, what I mean is there should be significant checks and balances etc etc.

        A good parallel to draw might be with convicts on death row in the States. There are years of appeals before the lethal cocktail is administered to the condemned. This helps to ensure he’s really guilty. Go to Texas and the process is much swifter; inmates are put to death before things have time to cool off and the result is, well, who knows how many innocents have gone to their death this way?

        I think that’s a bad example because IMO the death penalty shouldn’t exist at all. So in that case I do want to make it “as difficult as possible” because I just don’t want the state to execute people.

        You’re the one bringing the morality of the death penalty into it. I was just using it as an example of a process which has an inbuilt system of, for want of a better word, brakes; helping to ensure, certain red states excepted, that innocent people are not put to death. I stand by this analogy.

        That actually is my fear is that people who say it should be “as difficult as possible” really mean that they don’t want it to happen and that like the GOP in many states have done in regard to abortion will do everything they can to make sure the legal requirements are so extreme that in reality no one has the option.

        I hope you don’t mean me. If so, how very dare you compare me to the GOP. I’ve never been so insulted!

        One can be if favor of somebody’s having the right to die and find it troubling. It’s not an either-or.

      • In reply to #59 by Red Dog:

        Saying “it should be as difficult as possible” isn’t really very meaningful either IMO. I mean if you actually meant that then you would want it to be illegal because that is “as difficult as possible”,

        I see you’ve made a similar point. Didn’t mean to pilfer it, just working my way down the thread in order. :)

    • In reply to #53 by Katy Cordeth:

      There’s no dignity in suicide. I’m sorry, but there just isn’t.

      This is entirely a subjective issue and you don’t get to pronounce there’s no dignity in it by fiat. If I consider ending my life to be more dignified than living it then what right do you have to prevent me from doing so?

      The hope of a cure has kept countless HIV-positive patients from taking their own life.

      And the continued lack of that cure has left them living lives they consider miserable.

      The hope of deliverance has kept concentration camp detainees against the odds from going insane.

      And that same hope left thousands to starve to death in agony rather than end their life and miss months of torture.

      Suicide negates the chance of deliverance, but it also negates the suffering. It should be their choice.

      I seem to have given the impression that I’m not if favor of people having the right to die. I am. I’m just not for making it the easy option. It should be as difficult as possible.

      Again with the ‘as difficult as possible’. Well, as difficult as possible is to simply make it illegal and unavailable. In fact, those who want to die should be restrained, strapped to a bed and prevented from dying until they die. Wait… that sounds ridiculous. Perhaps you want to rethink your ‘difficult as possible’ stance?

      A good parallel to draw might be with convicts on death row in the States.

      I disagree completely (it seems to becoming a theme). Those people did not themselves choose to die. Their death is being mandated by someone else. People who choose to die of their own accord are not in the same camp as convicted criminals sentenced to death.

      Incidentally, I’m against the death penalty unless it’s voluntary. If someone has committed a crime that warrants life imprisonment, they should have the option to choose death, not have it forced upon them.

      [D]o we as a society have a responsibility to ensure that all other avenues for those in mental or physical pain have been thoroughly explored and suicide really is the last available option? You bet your life we do.

      Even against their wishes? Even if they don’t want it? Why must it be the ‘last’ option? Why can’t it simply be the chosen option? If I want to end my life why should it be down to someone who doesn’t feel what I feel and doesn’t think what I think to have the final say? My life should never be more important to you than it is to me.

      There’s something else as well which I don’t think has really been addressed on this thread; related more to the mental health end of things probably than to the physically affected. To wit, should the right of sovereignty over our own life be absolute if by exercising it we destroy the lives of those who love us?

      I addressed this in a throwaway comment in an earlier post. If you’re raising this spectre then you better be prepared to also consider locking people into relationships they don’t want to be part of because it would ‘destroy the life’ of the partner who loves them.

      And finally, before I hit submit, do you or anyone else think someone committed to a mental health facility who says he will kill himself the moment he’s released should be kept incarcerated indefinitely; and should staff be permitted to administer drugs against this person’s will if these have been shown to be effective in preventing suicide, and to have no deleterious effect on the patient’s physical health or personality?

      Not if it overrides the patient’s wishes when the patient was considered in sound mind to make the decision.

  13. In reply to #54 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #53 by Katy Cordeth:

    I genuinely wonder about Peter, but no, I don’t think that.

    No need to wonder, I’ve already stated I’m in favour of them. Futurama is cool!

    Indeed it is. You’ve also stated that you’re a long term sufferer of depression who “never even once considered killing myself.”

    I’m very sorry about your history of depression, and glad that in all that time you never even once thought about ending things.

    I can see why someone for whom suicide was never an option might not care were it to be made easier for everyone. As you also said, “The earth is way too overpopulated.”

    I for one wouldn’t care too much if eating peanuts became compulsory. But then I’ve never suffered from a peanut allergy.

    Never even once.

    • In reply to #55 by Katy Cordeth:

      I can see why someone for whom suicide was never an option might not care were it to be made easier for everyone. As you also said, “The earth is way too overpopulated.”

      It’s mostly other people who depress me. Call it an empathetic response.

  14. Moderators’ message

    May we just point out that this is a subject that arouses strong feelings on both sides and request that, in the interests of a thoughtful discussion on a sensitive and emotive topic, users avoid posting inflammatory or personal remarks.

    Thank you.

    The mods

  15. In reply to #58 by DHudson:

    In reply to #53 by Katy Cordeth:

    The impression I get is that you want euthanasia to become easier under the law; to be deregulated to such an extent that it’s a free-for-all. Suicide booths is taking this to its logical conclusion. Do I think you want actual suicide booths on every street corner? I genuinely wonder about Peter, but no, I don’t think that. But only because it would be distasteful and you still wish to cling to the idea that what you support is dignified. It isn’t. There’s no dignity in suicide. I’m sorry, but there just isn’t.

    What I want is honesty and an open debate about it. How the various procedures and regulations should be set up is a matter that needs research and funding. Suicide booths is not a logical conclusion, Katy. It is fiction and scaremongering. You speak of dignity so I’ll ask you to extend that dignity to those that cannot end their own lives by their own means.

    Then consider me well and truly scared; both by Peter and Modesti’s comments about these fictional devices, and by the number of likes they received.

    And they get better. We can keep going round in circles if you like. The point is, they change. None of us knows what’s going to happen tomorrow. The hope of a cure has kept countless HIV-positive patients from taking their own life. The hope of deliverance has kept concentration camp detainees against the odds from going insane. Suicide negates that.

    The hope of a cure doesn’t dissapear because assisted suicide is implemented into our medical care systems.

    I would say the hope very definitely disappears for those who take advantage of assisted suicide. That’s pretty much it as far as they’re concerned.

    And yes, we do know what will happen tomorrow because we’ve seen it a thousand times before. Pretending we do not is not a reasonable or honest approach to this issue.

    All the cancer and AIDS research is a waste of time, then? Of course we don’t know what’s going to occur tomorrow when it comes to treatments for diseases! (Damn your eyes, you’ve made me use an exclamation mark.) There are breakthroughs being made all the time. An HIV diagnosis used to mean a death sentence; now, sufferers can live full lives. Seriously, people, please don’t volunteer for any suicide hotlines. I’m begging you.

    Btw, I seriously hope you did not just compare medical doctors to Nazi’s…..this is the internet, but please don’t.

    Relax, I didn’t. I rarely trouble Mr Godwin.

    That’s up to them. You’ve just acknowledged, though, that things can get worse. If this is true, it means their situation hasn’t become as untenable as it could.

    That’s cold, imo. There are many people who cannot do it physically and you’re pretty much asking them to suck it up or go die somewhere else.

    Um, no I’m not.

    I have a somewhat controversial question for you: If a confessed and convicted criminal is sentenced to die in jail with no possibility of parole whatsoever, should he/she then be forced to live for as long as possible untill we as societies are satisfied with the punishment?

    He shouldn’t be sentenced to death at all; capital punishment is wrong. Let him rot in jail until he expires of natural causes, or let him die by his own hand.

    The death penalty should be voluntary imo, but let’s not digress.

    I don’t think the issue of convicted criminals being given the option of a voluntary death sentence as an alternative to life imprisonment is too off-topic. Talk about it you want.

    And finally, before I hit submit, do you or anyone else think someone committed to a mental health facility who says he will kill himself the moment he’s released should be kept incarcerated indefinitely; and should staff be permitted to administer drugs against this person’s will if these have been shown to be effective in preventing suicide, and to have no deleterious effect on the patient’s physical health or personality?

    No I don’t think a person suffering from mental health problems should be given a deadly injection because they demand it. But I do think we need to discuss the issue and hopefully as our science and technology evolve, we’ll be able to treat mental ailments as a purely biological problem with a much greater succes rate in curing people.

    I think you might have misunderstood my question.

    • In reply to #60 by Katy Cordeth:

      Then consider me well and truly scared; both by Peter and Modesti’s comments about these fictional devices, and by the number of likes they received.

      Forget the likes, this is not a popularity contest.

      I would say the hope very definitely disappears for those who take advantage of assisted suicide. That’s pretty much it as far as they’re concerned.

      There are many cases were there is no hope, or where the slim chance of recovery simply isn’t enough to keep hope alive compared to the misery.

      >
      All the cancer and AIDS research is a waste of time, then? Of course we don’t know what’s going to occur tomorrow when it comes to treatments for diseases! (Damn your eyes, you’ve made me use an exclamation mark.) There are breakthroughs being made all the time. An HIV diagnosis used to mean a death sentence; now, sufferers can live full lives. Seriously, people, please don’t volunteer for any suicide hotlines. I’m begging you.

      Off course that wasn’t my point and you know it. We’ve had and continue to have thousands upon thousands of cases where we to the best of our expertise and diagnoses know that it will only get worse. There will always be the odd case where people make surprising recoveries, but I find it cruel and irrational to ask those afflicted to hold on to a wing and a prayer, again because we are struggling to muster the courage. Furthermore what you’re conveniently forgetting in your hiv example is all those that died agonizing deaths because we’re scared of making mistakes.

      Relax, I didn’t. I rarely trouble Mr Godwin.

      Cool, then let’s not compare seriously ill people with incarcerated people, eh. The situations aren’t the same.

      He shouldn’t be sentenced to death at all; capital punishment is wrong. Let him rot in jail until he expires of natural causes, or let him die by his own hand.

      So you’re willing to sentence him to rot slowly to death in jail, but you oppose the death penalty? On what grounds?

      I don’t think the issue of convicted criminals being given the option of a voluntary death sentence as an alternative to life imprisonment is too off-topic. Talk about it you want.

      Notice how I wrote confessed, not only convicted.

      I think you might have misunderstood my question.

      Feel free to enlighten me then. ;-)

      • In reply to #61 by DHudson:

        In reply to #60 by Katy Cordeth:

        Then consider me well and truly scared; both by Peter and Modesti’s comments about these fictional devices, and by the number of likes they received.

        Forget the likes, this is not a popularity contest.

        No, but it’s a good indicator of how people feel. Perhaps I’m just bitter because back during Disqus days, for a time I was statistically the second most popular member of this site after Richard. True story. How things change.

        I would say the hope very definitely disappears for those who take advantage of assisted suicide. That’s pretty much it as far as they’re concerned.

        There are many cases were there is no hope, or where the slim chance of recovery simply isn’t enough to keep hope alive compared to the misery.

        That’s the funny thing about hope: it transcends logic. National and state lotteries are proof of this.

        … Furthermore what you’re conveniently forgetting in your hiv example is all those that died agonizing deaths because we’re scared of making mistakes.

        I wasn’t forgetting them. What about those who clung on to the last minute, enduring every second of pain because they knew this was it and weren’t willing to give the Grim Reaper an inch? Do they get honorable mention; the ones who raged against the dying of the light?

        Relax, I didn’t. I rarely trouble Mr Godwin.

        Cool, then let’s not compare seriously ill people with incarcerated people, eh. The situations aren’t the same.

        Great, someone else vehemently opposed to the concept of analogy. At least you didn’t hurl the straw man epithet. I’m sure you just have a better understanding of its meaning than some. May I refer you to this earlier post of mine.

        He shouldn’t be sentenced to death at all; capital punishment is wrong. Let him rot in jail until he expires of natural causes, or let him die by his own hand.

        So you’re willing to sentence him to rot slowly to death in jail, but you oppose the death penalty? On what grounds?

        On the grounds that society has a duty to punish criminals and prevent them committing further crimes. Do you imagine every person who opposes capital punishment is against justice in all its forms? No, we want offenders to face the full force of the law; we just draw the line at putting them to death.

        I don’t think the issue of convicted criminals being given the option of a voluntary death sentence as an alternative to life imprisonment is too off-topic. Talk about it you want.

        Notice how I wrote confessed, not only convicted.

        Duly noted; the guy is almost certainly guilty. Unless of course he’s lying, in order to protect the real guilty party; or the confession was coerced; or he’s mentally ill; or his intelligence is subnormal and he didn’t understand what he was confessing to; or, or, or…

        Even if your man is guilty as sin and there’s absolutely no doubt about it, that doesn’t make capital punishment right.

        I think you might have misunderstood my question.

        Feel free to enlighten me then. ;-)

        I had hoped you’d just read the thing again. I didn’t ask if “a person suffering from mental health problems should be given a deadly injection because they demand it.” I asked if it was acceptable for mental health staff to “administer drugs against this person’s will if these have been shown to be effective in preventing suicide, and to have no deleterious effect on the patient’s physical health or personality?” No mention of deadly injections at all.


        Do not go gentle into that good night,
        Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
        Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

        Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
        Because their words had forked no lightning they
        Do not go gentle into that good night.

        Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
        Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
        Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

        Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
        And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
        Do not go gentle into that good night.

        Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
        Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
        Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

        And you, my father, there on that sad height,
        Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
        Do not go gentle into that good night.
        Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

        • In reply to #63 by Katy Cordeth:

          No, but it’s a good indicator of how people feel. Perhaps I’m just bitter because back during Disqus days, for a time I was statistically the second most popular member of this site after Richard. True story. How things change.

          Well, maybe the like button is a feature that doesn’t inspire reasoned and provocative discussion. But I’m sure it’s great for dusting of one’s confidence. Heck, I even reddit from time to time just to reap some of that sweet sweet karma…..it’s nice to feel liked. ;-)

          That’s the funny thing about hope: it transcends logic. National and state lotteries are proof of this.

          You still assume there is hope. Remember I’m talking about cases where there simply is no hope.

          I wasn’t forgetting them. What about those who clung on to the last minute, enduring every second of pain because they knew this was it and weren’t willing to give the Grim Reaper an inch? Do they get honorable mention; the ones who rage against the dying of the light?

          That is their choice and their decision, but no, they don’t get an honorable mention. Why should they? To endure pain is not a virtue in itself. Their death is by no means more dignified than those who wish to get it over with quickly.

          That is a pseudo-religious notion.

          On the grounds that society has a duty to punish criminals and prevent them committing further crimes. Do you imagine every person who opposes capital punishment is against justice in all its forms? No, we want offenders to face the full force of the law; we just draw the line at putting them to death.

          No we don’t. We’re just putting them to death slowly by demanding that they live until nature or fellow inmates does their thing. There’s no chance of parol, remember.

          You don’t think society has a responsibilty to rehabilitate and maybe in the process focus less on incarcerate?

          It might be worth a try.

          Duly noted; the guy is almost certainly guilty. Unless of course he’s lying, in order to protect the real guilty party; or the confession was coerced; or he’s mentally ill; or his intelligence is subnormal and he didn’t understand what he was confessing to; or, or, or…

          Even if your man is guilty as sin and there’s absolutely no doubt about it, that doesn’t make capital punishment right.

          We’re getting close now. My simple proposition is that those under the current system who are sentenced to death will be given the choice: Do you wish to have the sentenced carried out, or are you willing to live the rest of your life as a prisoner?

          It’s a hard but honest question, and it would leave them in a position where the emotions of the victim’s family does not play the defining role of the punishment. If they are innocent they now have the option to say no, I wish to live the rest of my life here while they can educate themselves and maybe, just maybe, rehabilitate and get parole or even get the case to court again..

          I had hoped you’d just read the thing again. I didn’t ask if “a person suffering from mental health problems should be given a deadly injection because they demand it.” I asked if it was acceptable for mental health staff to “administer drugs against this person’s will if these have been shown to be effective in preventing suicide, and to have no deleterious effect on the patient’s physical health or personality?” No mention of deadly injections at all.

          I think we’re pretty much in agreement here. Off course a drug can and most probably should be administered when it is known to have a positive effect on the patient, even if this is against the person’s will.

  16. Here’s some interesting statistics:

    roughly 8.5 percent of the world’s population are suffering from a depressive disorder

    only 3.4% of people who are clinically depressed commit suicide

    less than 60% of people who commit suicide had depression or another mood disorder

    and finally, it is unclear whether or not medications affect the risk of suicide

  17. Moderators’ message

    A repeat of our request to all users to avoid making gratuitously provocative comments on this emotive subject; and a reminder that the OP is about the right to die in very specific circumstances, not about suicide in general.

    The mods

  18. In reply to #78 by BenS:

    In reply to #72 by mmurray:

    Bewdy! You can’t usually get email addresses.

    Well, without a private messaging service on these God forsaken forums*, how do people contact each other then? Madness!

    In this comment, the moderators said:

    If anyone wishes to contact a specific user privately, that can be facilitated via the mods, with the user’s permission.

    Email moderator@richarddawkins.net and, if you ask them nicely, site staff will contact Michael and see if it’s cool with him if they furnish you with his contact details.

    Gosh, I just love bringing people together. Truly the spirit of Christmas dwelleth within me 365 dayth a year.

    [Edited by moderator to correct email address. ]

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