Human Exceptionalism

National Institute of Mental Health’s Weak Anti-Suicide Guidelines

This document from the NIMH about preventing suicide seems rather weak to me. For example, in describing what to do if someone is suicidal, the NIHM states:

If you think someone is suicidal, do not leave him or her alone. Try to get the person to seek immediate help from his or her doctor or the nearest hospital emergency room, or call 911. Eliminate access to firearms or other potential tools for suicide, including unsupervised access to medications.

Good advise. But assisted suicide advocates suggest the opposite, that facilitation should be provided upon request to the patient–at least when the person who is suicidal has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. (It wouldn’t stop there, of course.) Indeed, activists now say that suicide by a terminally ill patient isn’t really suicide. Oregon’s assisted suicide law permits doctors to lie on the death certificate by naming the underlying disease–not the lethal overdose–as the cause of death.

So, does the NIMH agree or disagree? Does the NIHM think that those who want assisted suicide should receive prevention? It doesn’t say.

Also note that one cause of suicidal ideation is:

exposure to the suicidal behavior of others, such as family members, peers, or media figures.

Does this include assisted suicide, which often receives a lot of press attention? Again, the NIMH is strangly silent. Given the current political situation, and the intensity of the public debate over assisted suicide, surely its public statement about preventing suicide should discuss this important issue.

If we are to fight suicide, it must be unequivocally to prevent all suicides. Otherwise, it sends an insidious message to the suffering that suicide can be a proper and ethical escape. Once that message is sent, it is heard well beyond those who have been diagnosed as terminally ill.

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