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Society should recognize one's right to die


By Aubrey Smith

The subject of suicide has been studied and restudied, and yet the studies continue.

Numerous demographic factors have been identified as indicators for those who end up ending their lives on their own volition. Gender studies have shown that American males are four times more likely to attempt suicide than females and more likely to achieve that goal.

In fact, this trend is also evident in all western countries. One's race, sexual orientation and social factors such as poverty and unemployment are also factors. Studies also point to contingent factors at play in suicidal deaths — clinical depression, substance abuse, severe physical diseases and physical infirmities.

Is it any wonder, then, why worldwide suicide has become the 12th leading cause of death with an estimated one million suicides every year.

A conscious release

Now statistics and numbers are all well and good, but statistics can never remove the individual suffering and pain often inflicted by chance upon an individual body, oft-times a body disfigured by disease and injury, but even worse a physically disempowered body imprisoning an active, functioning mind.

I could ask: Where all are those people of religious faiths who so value the concept of raw life? Where are all those skilled physicians? Where are all those learned judges and legislators? And where are all those political democrats, all of whom have a key role to play in bringing about a change in society that will recognize one's right to die?

You all know you can't truly stop a person from taking his or own life, regardless of your religious, philosophical or political persuasion. Yet you persist in denying a request for a death with dignity, and with outside assistance if required. Why are we vilifying decent people who in most cases have made a positive contribution to society and now seek a conscious release?


Actually, the ultimate irony is that many religious persons, democrats, and other social categories noted above are all too willing to rub out the life of a convicted man with an imposed death penalty. Surely, such upright, morally superior persons must suffer extreme cognitive and emotional dissonance. Of course, some do but, apart from the occasional American governor saving a convict from gassing or electrocution, most morally ambiguous individuals take refuge in a group system.

That is so unlike Christ, who faced his own mortal death and asked God, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.”

This passage is often interpreted as Christ, who in great anguish and with foreknowledge of what his preordained role was as saviour of mankind, asking if there was no other way to bring about the redemption of the human race. He wasn't begging for a release, just inquiring.

Why, then, can we not as individuals who seek to avoid the true moral path facing each of us not give support to those folk for whom life has become unbearable? Why will we not lobby for legislation that would allow them to die with dignity?

You have before you the solid example of eternal self-sacrifice and unending compassion, that of Christ; yet you are unwilling to reach out and show that same compassion to a fellow human being who was made in God's image from dust and who has evolved far beyond mere dust to a garden of intelligent fertility in numerous human spheres.

— Aubrey Smith writes from Grand falls Windsor

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