Media is so pornographic these days, and not just about matters sexual. A Brit tabloid has published photos from an assisted suicide, depictions taken from a soon-to-be-aired television show.
It will be the first time an assisted suicide has been shown on British TV and will be sure to spark debate over the legality of the sensitive subject--as well as the controversial decision to screen it.
The retired university professor and dad-of-two decided to end his life as his illness was crippling his body. Mr Ewert said: 'I am tired of the disease but I am not tired of living. I still enjoy life enough that I would like to continue but the thing is that I really cannot.
'If I opt for life then that is choosing to be tortured rather than end this journey and start the next one. I cannot take the risk. Let's face it, when you're completely paralysed and cannot talk how do you let somebody know you are suffering? This could be a complete and utter hell.
Clearly, this was a suicide caused by depression and despair--and fear of the future. I wonder if he or his family consulted with hospice professionals who could have assured him that he wouldn't have to suffer terribly unable to cry out. And who knows, had he hung in, he might have again found the joy in life.
I know of what I speak. My last hospice patient (as a volunteer) was a wonderful man named Bob Salamanca, who died of ALS. He told me that for the first 2 1/2 years of his illness, if he could have gone to Kevorkian he would have. He was depressed and very suicidal. But by the time I met him, he had "come out of the fog" in his words and was relishing life. Yes, it was hard. Yes, there were times when he despaired. But because his family supported his life
, not his suicide, and also because the Mormon church reached out to him and let him know he was wanted
--first through missionaries and then as a church, for example sending a taping crew to his house so he could present a Sunday message even though he was too ill to leave the house--and because he found the joy in life through the struggle of becoming a total quadriplegic, he rejected suicide. More than that, he would get spitting mad at assisted suicide advocates who used ALS patients as their bloody flag of advocacy. "They are trying to push me out of the bright lit boulevard into the dark alley," he told me the day after watching a Nightline
program that focused on an ALS patient who wanted assisted suicide. Indeed, he even wrote a column published by the San Francisco Chronicle
, ("I Don’t Want a Choice to Die," February 19, 1997, no link available).which read in part:
Euthanasia advocates believe they are doing people like me a favor. They are not. The negative emotions toward the terminally ill and disabled generated by their advocacy is actually at the expense of the 'dying' and their families and friends, who often feel disheartened and without self assurance because of a false picture of what it is like to die created by these enthusiasts who prey on the misinformed.
What we, the terminally ill, need is exactly the opposite--to realize how important our lives are. And our loved ones, friends, and indeed society, need to help us feel that we are loved and appreciated unconditionally.
Of course, if the death with dignity crowd had been able to get their hands on Bob before he came out of that fog, he would have been dead instead of relishing the end time of his life ("I wouldn't have missed this for the world," he once told me. Such statements by properly cared for dying people have become so common they are almost a hospice cliche`) And as he was lowered into the grave, the death with dignity facilitators would have been clapping themselves on the back about their oh, so deep compassion, ignorant of the coming good life that they had robbed Bob of when they yielded to his despair.
But that's not the message media wants to send, and apparently it is not one many people want to hear. It is all about "death with dignity" now--as if Bob dying peacefully in his sleep wasn't dignified.