Human Exceptionalism

Chronic Pain Victims More Likely to Commit Suicide

I have met people with severe chronic pain in my travels and at my speeches. These people live very difficult lives that requires strong medical and emotional support from family, friends, and communities to help them keep going. Unsurprisingly, suicide levels among sever chronic pain sufferers is higher than the general public’s. From the story:

People with severe headaches or other forms of chronic pain may have an increased risk of suicide, a study published Tuesday suggests. The study, of nearly 5,700 U.S. adults, found that those who reported chronic pain other than arthritis were four times more likely to have attempted suicide than adults not suffering from persistent pain.

Head pain and pain in multiple areas of the body were particularly linked to suicidal thoughts and behavior, according to researchers at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor.They found that men and women with frequent or severe headaches were twice as likely to have either contemplated or attempted suicide. These risks were also elevated among study participants who reported multiple forms of pain.

And this is another reason why the euthanasia/assisted suicide movement is so dangerous. Once we accept the idea that an acceptable societal response to severe health difficulties is facilitated killing, on what basis will we deprive these suffering people–whose pain can be more severe and longer lasting than that of people who are dying–from assisted suicide or euthanasia? In the end, as in the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the public’s widespread support of Kevorkian, we won’t.

This is the reality and it is the debate we should have. I submit our response to any suicidal ideation should be prevention and attempts at ameliorating the cause–the hospice approach developed by Dame Cecily Saunders. Society should support people in living, not killing themselves.

In any event, the pretense that “death with dignity” is about the terminally ill “for whom nothing else can be done to alleviate suffering” is a ruse intended to soften society for the ultimate abandonment of near death on demand.

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