I had some requests for a response to Diane Rehm’s new campaign to legalize assisted suicide in the wake of her husband’s suicide by starvation (VSED), an approach to becoming dead pushed by Compassion and Choices among others. I do today in First Things.
I point out that the media stories never give any opposing view to assisted suicide in these kinds of stories anymore. (I guess it’s a “fact” that doctor-prescribed death should be legal.) From, “Pushing Suicide for Suffering:”
Rehm has responded by promoting the legalization of doctor-prescribed death. A recent profile of her by NBC focused solely on the pro assisted suicide side, giving no voice to those who warn against legalization. In the story’s telling, John’s suicide was necessary. The only question should be how best to get it done.
It is a profound disservice to the gravity of this issue that the media give scandalously short shrift to the many stories of people who find meaning and hope in life even as they grapple with the anguish of profound disabilities. But the stories are not hard to find—if only journalists were as interested in promoting hope as they are assisted suicide.
I segue into true stories of people suffering as terribly as John Rehm, who became suicidal, but were then so glad they didn’t do the deed.
One is Mark Pickup, the Canadian disability rights activist and Christian apologist. The other was my late friend Robert Salamanca who lived with ALS until dying naturally and peacefully in his sleep.
By focusing so intensely on promoting suicide among those suffering from illness and disability—while mostly ignoring powerful and uplifting stories of people who manage to thrive in the midst of great pain—the media does society and the suffering a terrible disservice. As Salamanca wrote, “Reporting in the media too often makes us feel like token presences, burdens who are better off dead.”
Today’s media are suicide pushers. There is no other way to describe it.