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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Assisted Suicide a Turn On?



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Does assisting suicide have a sexual–or perhaps better stated, sensual–component for some people? I have thought it might ever since reading A Chosen Death by assisted suicide advocate Dr. Lonnie Shavelson.

Shavelson witnessed Sarah, described as a Hemlock Society leader, murdering “Gene,” who changed his mind before dying, only to have Sarah put a plastic bag over his head. Demonstrating Shavelson’s moral hollowness, he not only didn’t stop the woman from killing Gene, but didn’t report the case to the police.

But this is the part of Shavelson’s account I want to focus on for the moment. Why does Sarah do it?  He quotes her waxing ecstatically about what it was like to assist the suicide of Naomi. From his book (page 75):

I firmly believe now that the most intimate moment you can share with a person is their death. More than sex. More than birth. More than anything. I was at the deliveries of my four grandchildren, and my experience with Naomi’s death was above that.

There is something very sick about that. Very sick.

Now, the international assisted suicide rock star, Philip Nitschke–who infamously said suicide pills should be available in supermarkets and allowed to “troubled teens”–admits that helping people kill themselves gives him a sexual thrill. From the Canberra Times story:

In his recent autobiography, Philip Nitschke makes an astonishingly frank disclosure. He says that immediately after helping people to kill themselves back in the mid-1990s, he had an overpowering need for sex…

In the first set of page proofs of Damned If I Do sent out by Melbourne University Press, Nitschke was at his most candid. “After performing my role in those deaths, I had an urgent and pressing need for sex,” he wrote. He was having an affair with a journalist and the sex, he says, was “frantic and sometimes desperate”.

I wonder if Jack Kevorkian was similarly turned on. It would explain a lot.

I am sure that everyone who assists a suicide is not driven by sensual issues. But these two very similar descriptions of the “thrill” that came to them when helping make someone dead, should–at the very least–raise an eyebrow.



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