Google+
Close

Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Psychiatrist Opens Door to “Rational Suicide”



Text  



I have been warning for many years about the “rational suicide” movement within the mental health professions.

The latest thrust to have psychiatrists sanction some suicidal patients’ self-destruction was just published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry–alarming considering the euthanasia movement’s current energetic attempts to legalize doctor-facilitated death there.

Psychiatrist Angela Ho argues that helping keep mentally anguished patients alive can be more harmful than their suicides. From the National Post story:

Most guidelines for managing people with suicidal thoughts are based on the premise that depression, substance abuse or other forms of mental illness drive suicide.

Little is said about the concept of rational suicide — managing cases of suicidal thinking in people without mental illness and with mental capacity, and who therefore should be able to make rational decisions, Ho writes.

“People may have difficulties coping with life,” Ho said in an interview. “Maybe they don’t have a lot of support or healthy ways of dealing with their emotions. Sometimes people feel overwhelmed and feel like suicide is the only answer.” “The person says they want to end their life, but their thought process isn’t necessarily disordered because of depression or psychosis,” Ho said.

This is abandonment, pure and simple. 

Ho seems to seek to deflect “blame” for suicide from the treating psychiatrist. It is one thing to say that the patient just couldn’t be helped, and another to say that in some cases, preventing suicide interferes with rational decision making.

Psychiatrists are sometimes the last bastion of protection for despairing self-destructive people. To succeed, the life-saving mission must be unequivocal. But rational suicide proponents believe that when the doctor agrees that the desire to die is “rational,” it should be “permitted.” Imagine being told by your doctor that self-killing makes sense.

Indeed, how many people are alive today–perhaps some HE readers–who would be dead at their own hands but for a committed psychiatrist or other dedicated mental health professional who saw the value in the person’s life even when the suicidal patient couldn’t. 

The Dutch and Belgians show us where this culture of death meme leads: In both countries psychiatrists kill patients. In Belgium, some dead mentally ill patients become organ donors. Imagine a psychiatrist essentially validating that his or her patient’s death would be of greater value than their continued existence. 

Psychiatrists agreeing with suicidal patients that their deaths would be “rational” should be anathema.

 



Text  


Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review