The Corner

Family-Supported Suicide Harms Society

There was once a time when friends, family, and society worked to prevent suicides.

Now, if the suicidal person is ill or disabled, there is support for self-killing, with friends and family members even attending the deed.

That–and what it may portend–is the subject of my biweekly First Things. From, “Family-Support Suicide and the Duty to Die:”

Is it right or wrong to support a loved one’s suicide? This seems to be one of those issues, increasingly prevalent in our society, about which debate is not possible: The answer depends on one’s overarching worldview.

Some will believe that their duty is to support their family member’s choice, come what may. Others, including this writer, believe that supporting suicide is an abandonment that validates loved ones’ worst fears about themselves—that they are a burden, unworthy of love, or truly better off dead.

What might this phenomenon portend?

Family backing for suicide furthers the normalization of hastened death as a proper response to human suffering. Such normalization, over time, will put increasing pressure on those coping with the infirmities of age and with the debilitations of serious illnesses and disabilities to view their suicides as not only a suitable approach, but perhaps even as an obligation to those they love.

This is known in bioethics as the “duty to die,” which has been debated for years in professional discourse. 

I quote some advocacy material for a duty to die:

A duty to die becomes greater as you grow older. . . . To have reached the age of, say, seventy-five or eighty years without being ready to die is itself a moral failing, the sign of a life out of touch with life’s basic realities.

This isn’t a fringe idea. Books have been written on the topic.

I conclude:

No, a day won’t come when the euthanasia police kick down doors and force unwanted lethal injections upon the sick and elderly. But legal compulsion isn’t the only way to push people out of the lifeboat. The more public support families and friends give their ill or debilitated loved ones’ suicides, the greater the prospect that a moral duty to die will become culturally legitimate.

Again, I don’t see how we debate this. Either we want such a society, or we don’t.

Most Popular

White House

The Damning Inspector General’s Report

It is hard to believe that the run-up to the presidential-election year has plumbed such a depth of farcical degradation. It must be that Trump’s influence has contributed to unserious responses, but he can’t be blamed for the unutterable nonsense of his opponents and the straight men of the political class ... Read More
White House

The Damning Inspector General’s Report

It is hard to believe that the run-up to the presidential-election year has plumbed such a depth of farcical degradation. It must be that Trump’s influence has contributed to unserious responses, but he can’t be blamed for the unutterable nonsense of his opponents and the straight men of the political class ... Read More
Elections

Diversity Panic Hits the Democratic Field

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. An Asian guy, two black guys, three white women (one of whom spent much of her life claiming to be Native American), a Pacific Islander woman, a gay guy, a Hispanic guy, two elderly Caucasian Jews (one a billionaire, the other a socialist), a self-styled Irishman, and a ... Read More
Elections

Diversity Panic Hits the Democratic Field

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. An Asian guy, two black guys, three white women (one of whom spent much of her life claiming to be Native American), a Pacific Islander woman, a gay guy, a Hispanic guy, two elderly Caucasian Jews (one a billionaire, the other a socialist), a self-styled Irishman, and a ... Read More
World

The U.K. Elections Were the Real Second Referendum

In the end, it wasn’t close at all. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party met a fate to which it has been accustomed for most of the last half-century. Once again, the British roundly rejected socialism. Boris Johnson and his conservatives will form the next British government. This was no slight rejection. Labour ... Read More
World

The U.K. Elections Were the Real Second Referendum

In the end, it wasn’t close at all. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party met a fate to which it has been accustomed for most of the last half-century. Once again, the British roundly rejected socialism. Boris Johnson and his conservatives will form the next British government. This was no slight rejection. Labour ... Read More
Law & the Courts

The FBI’s Corrupt Cops

White-collar criminals should hope for one thing this Christmas: that they get to live under the Horowitz rules. Michael Horowitz has testified that he found no evidence of political bias on the part of the decision makers who, under the Obama administration, relied on hilariously implausible “evidence” ... Read More
Law & the Courts

The FBI’s Corrupt Cops

White-collar criminals should hope for one thing this Christmas: that they get to live under the Horowitz rules. Michael Horowitz has testified that he found no evidence of political bias on the part of the decision makers who, under the Obama administration, relied on hilariously implausible “evidence” ... Read More