The Phenomenon of Assisted Suicide

By: Youmna Halawa

Trigger Warning: heavy mention of suicide, if it’ll trigger you, please don’t read it. 

Somewhere a human wakes up. He or she decide to start a mission, and that mission needs help. This person is going to ask other professional people for help to ensure the mission is done right. And that mission is suicide.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death worldwide. And on the rise in a few countries is assisted suicide. These countries are Switzerland, Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Colombia, parts of the United States, and parts of Australia.

The person who is asking for assisted suicide goes to an organization, one of the right to die organizations, that will help him or her learn about taking that decision and why to commit assisted suicide and why not. Some of these organizations give the opportunity to commit the assisted suicide after a process and under some criteria. Other organizations take a more political approach and work on passing legislations for aid in dying. Some Right to Die organizations are: Compassion and Choices in the US and Canada, Death with Dignity in the US, Dignitas in Switzerland, and Exit in Switzerland. The first organizations were established in Switzerland 35 years ago. 

One organization I want to tell you about is Dignitas in Switzerland. A person goes there and is asked:

Are you diagnosed with a severe mental illness?

Are you diagnosed with a terminal illness?

If the answer is yes to one of the above questions, the person has the right of assisted suicide. If both answers are No, the following is asked:

Are you of sound judgement and willingly want to die without any influence of people?

And if the answer is yes then an in-depth psychiatric report is required. After a process that can take months one can still not be approved to get assisted suicide. If it proves that the person is mentally healthy and is persistently and fully willing to die without any outer influence, he or she fits the criteria and can be assisted to death with a cost of €10,000 on average. The person will be given sodium pentobarbital, a lethal sedative, through a needle in the veins with the condition that the person himself or herself pushes a switch that ducts the lethal sedative. In 5 minutes he or she will fall asleep, and in 45 minutes he or she will be dead. The process has to be shot on camera to ensure that no one was involved in the death and the person with his or her own will committed suicide.

In conclusion, one can commit suicide with the help of an organization for more than one reason. That person can be helped because usually he or she has a terminal illness, or just because he or she has the right to willingly die, or die “with dignity”. 

Even though some people believe assisted suicide is mercy and a right thing to do if one wills, the majority of the world is against it. And I can’t help but raise a debate, more like an insight into each opinion, for and against.

For: 

The right to die is a choice. One chooses their partner, one chooses their career, and one should choose to die if they are willing to die. Whether if it’s of severe depression, a terminal illness, or just the will to die, I shall find the acceptance and assistance to fulfill that wish, the wish for ending my life in dignity and exiting in grace. If I want to die I’ll be saying “I lived my life and there’s nothing I am willing to achieve anymore. I am not the person I was when I wanted to live life to the fullest. I don’t want what’s left of my days so I shall end them.” One shall not live against his or her will. End the pain. End life with dignity.

Against: 

Death is the only truth, it’s coming sooner or later. Yet life is full of endless possibilities no matter the situation. When someone comes in to Dignitas to die, of old age, of severe illness, or of just the choice, can’t the next day be the best day of his or her life or the day they find the cure for their illness? One decides to end their lives when they are in their weakest and most vulnerable state. One cannot see that the best state can come just as the worst and that nothing is permanent and that they are still living for a reason. Why do we agree that another’s life is worthless? To end their suffering? Maybe their pain will seize but this way suffering will be passed on from person to another by emphasizing that suicide is a solution. Physically ill, mentally ill, and elderly people are already on the margins of society and assisted suicide helps eliminate them from society. If suicide was a solution to illness why did any physician or scientist bother curing anyone in the first place? Why not take money to help people get over their suicidal thoughts but not get over with their lives? Dying won’t be a solution for avoiding pity. Dying won’t be a way to achieve anyone’s dignity, but helping them live in dignity despite their problems and illnesses will. Each day we come across millions of possibilities taking place even when it’s least expected. The greatest possibility of asking for assisted suicide is that it’s a cry for help. Answer the call for rescue, don’t kill it.

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