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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Why Not Assisted Suicide for the Grieving?



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British novelist Julian Barnes says he contemplated suicide over his wife’s death–and still does. From the Telegraph story:

“The question of suicide arrives early, and quite logically,” he writes. “I knew soon enough my preferred method – a hot bath, a glass of wine next to the taps, and an exceptionally sharp Japanese carving knife. I thought of that solution fairly often, and still do.” But he decided his end would be akin to a second death of his wife, since he was “her principal rememberer”. He says he is now equipped with a “firm argument” against suicide, but admits the temptation remains.

And he seems to believe that the suicidal should be assisted if they want:

Last month, Barnes spoke out in favour of assisted dying, telling The Daily Telegraph: “I always thought it was every human’s right to kill yourself if you want to and I think it’s terrible that people have to go to Switzerland and have their relatives threatened with lawsuits or criminal prosecution when they are obviously of sound mind but terrifyingly unsound body.”

But why should such a “right” be limited to the ill? Why not the grieving?  Indeed, such a “right” might have cost Barnes his life.

Not coincidentally, the dying always aren’t. A former doctor-prescribed death supporter in Oregon thanks her doctor for not assisting her suicide–twelve years after being told she had less than six months to live. 

In short all suicidal people should be treated the same; with love, compassion, and suicide prevention. No exceptions. 



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