Newsweek: The Suicide Epidemic

Newsweek The Suicide EpidemicIn the May 22nd issue of Newsweek, Tony Dokoupil explores what he calls the “Suicide Epidemic.”  As some of you may recall, Dokoupil is the author of another article I wrote about this past December.  Dokoupil’s article “The Moral Injury” detailed the “hidden injury” our soldiers incur while at war.  I found the article fascinating and well worth a feature on Real Talk.  Likewise I found his latest piece worth further discussing on this blog platform.

I was surprised to read that every year since 1999, more Americans have killed themselves than the year before.  In the past decade more than 400,000 Americans have killed themselves.  That figure is almost as many as World War II and the Korean War combined.

Dokoupil writes:

“This year, America is likely to reach a grim milestone: the 40,000th death by suicide, the highest annual total on record, and one reached years ahead of what would be expected by population growth alone.  We blew past an even bigger milestone revealed in November, when a study lead by Ian Rockett, an epidemiologist at West Virginia University, showed that suicide had become the leading cause of “injury death” in America.  As the CDC noted again this spring, suicide outpaces the rate of death on the road—and for that matter anywhere else people accidentally harm themselves.”

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Global Burden of Disease 2010

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Global Burden of Disease 2010

Furthermore he notes:

“Throughout the developed world, for example, self-harm is now the leading cause of death for people 15 to 49, surpassing all cancers and heart disease. That’s a dizzying change, a milestone that shows just how effective we are at fighting disease, and just how haunted we remain at the same time.  Around the world, in 2010 self-harm took more lives than war, murder, and natural disasters combined, stealing more than 36 million years of healthy life across all ages. In more advanced countries, only three diseases on the planet do more harm.”

These statistics are very troubling.  Suicide is quickly becoming the leading cause of death for individuals older than 40.  The great article concludes with a quote from Thomas Joiner.  Joiner lost his father to suicide.  He has since dedicated his life to helping those who have failed to kill themselves and helping find a way to help others that are inclined to do so as well.  Joiner states: “we need to get it in our heads that suicide is not easy, painless, cowardly, selfish, vengeful, self-masterful, or rash…And once we get all that in our heads at last, we need to let it lead our hearts.”

Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, Global Burden of Disease 2010

Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, Global Burden of Disease 2010

For the most part I agree with Joiner.  However, I have always maintained and believe that suicide is one of the most selfish acts one could commit.  Suicide victims only think of a means to escape their pain.  However, in executing their end they forever alter the lives of their family and friends.  I don’t think it is fair to their families to leave them wondering what they could have done to save them.  Even with a suicide note I still think family members and friends will still painfully wonder the ifs and whats.  Therefore, I conclude suicide to be an incredibly selfish act.

I don’t understand why the name Jodi Arias  is more familiar to the American lexicon than the names of Amanda Todd and Rehtaeh Parsons.  The troubling statistics as detailed in this article should be more widely reported by our journalists.  I hope they, alongside network executives, begin to report on actual news as opposed to sensationalized stories.

In addition, I wanted to share a distressing statistic that I think most people don’t know.  More soldiers have died via suicide than in combat.  This is a serious problem for our military servicemen and women (of which I think this country often ignores).  Suicide is a taboo topic of sorts.  Many people don’t want to discuss it.  I hope that in a small way I begin the important dialogue on what is causing the increase in suicides and what we as nation can do to change that.

Do you think America suffers from a suicide epidemic?

Do you think suicide is selfish?

Email: realtalkdebate2012@gmail.com

Twitter: @adrakontaidis & @talkrealdebate

 

Need help? In the U.S. call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

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About adrakontaidis

A conservative who doesn't pander to the GOP.

20 responses to “Newsweek: The Suicide Epidemic”

  1. Kamil Zawadzki says :

    Suicide is definitely an epidemic and it is a taboo. Nobody wants to talk about it, nobody wants to discuss prevention much less possible causes. And when the media DOES report on it, we get a lot of hate mail for being ‘insensitive.’

    The statistics here are staggering.

    But there’s something I disagree on… why is it germane whether or not suicide is a selfish act or not? Why throw that word around? Isn’t the point that something or someone led a person to decide their own life was no longer worth living?

    If suicide is a selfish act, the selfishness is a symptom of everything they underwent leading up to that act, not a cause… the act itself may have a component of selfishness but in many cases, people who do so are driven to believe that they are a burden and a blight and in ceasing to exist, they lessen the load on those around them. They likely think they’re being selfLESS. Not only do they no longer offend the people tormenting them with their very presence but they spare their own families the shame of being related to the most worthless human being on the planet, not to mention the potential struggle of actually having to figure out ways to help them. People are proud and don’t really like having to lean on someone else, even if it is their family. And asking them for help in dealing with such problems like bullies at school or horrific rape just reinforces the mindset they’ve been force-fed by their tormentors that they’re just burdens, and that the better, more considerate option is to ride out the abuse in solitude and, if it really gets to that point where it’s unbearable, kill themselves.

    There are many factors in the various cases that led to those suicides, but I can almost guarantee you that selfishness was at the bottom of that pile. And even if it is selfish, after hearing the harrowing tales of abuse and torment that so many of these people like Rehtaeh Parsons and Amanda Todd underwent, can you REALLY blame them for seeking suicide as their “escape” or “way out”?
    If you’re made to feel like you’re worse than shit, repeatedly, especially if you’re a younger and more impressionable person, by your own peers, sadly, even the love and support of your family is not enough.

    It’s easy to say “well, it should be,” but that’s just not how it ends up working – after all, so many of these people who kill themselves have or have had loving and wonderful family relationships but for one reason or another, the disconnect of experience proved too much. And worse yet, if you’re shunned, shamed and tormented long enough, you may start believing that you are indeed that burden that is a load on everyone else, including your own family who might not even be aware that you suffer in silence. Suicide is not a decision taken lightly.

    Suicide is taboo, but focusing in on whether or not it’s ‘selfish’ gets us nowhere closer to breaking that stigma, starting conversation or raising awareness. And debating whether it’s selfish or not also risks glossing over completely the root causes of why people feel they truly have “no way out” BUT suicide or why people might end up believing that their own suicide is actually a favor to everyone around them.

    Too often when these stories come out, I see people commenting that “it’s so tragic, but nobody told him/her to kill themselves. It’s unfortunate they weren’t strong or confident enough to push through” and keep living. People making such comments don’t mean any harm or to offend the memory of the person who took their own live, but this reeks to me of blame-shifting.
    I mean, I’m sorry, but why is it always up to the person being targeted to “be strong” or “be smart” or “be more confident?” What about the assholes that pushed them with joy onto this path? Who told the bullies to torment them every day at school and then every night on Facebook? Why did they take it upon themselves to make sure that their victim felt awful, unwanted and alone daily?

    In every case of suicide, it’s obvious by definition of the word that the person that did it… DID IT. They’re the ones who took a cocktail of pills or hung themselves or shot themselves or whatever the particulars may be. But there are other factors that get swept under the rug under the sweeping banner of personal responsibility, all of which is placed at the feet of the deceased and none of which is handed to the people who actively pushed them along to that outcome.

    As far as grieving families being left by the person with questions that can never be answered or even addressed in even the most heartfelt and detailed suicide note… Their grief will always be there in some way, shape or form – there is simply no ‘getting over’ the death of a loved one. But there will come a time when they DON’T torment themselves over ‘if they had only been there at that time and place’ – because ultimately, everyone knows that hindsight is 20/20 and nobody has hindsight at the particular moment when it would be pertinent.
    The other question: ‘WHY?,’ however, is one that deserves attention and should continue to be explored.

    • realtalkrealdebate says :

      I should have been more clear in my post that I don’t necessarily think that the person committing suicide automatically is cognizant of the selfishness of their action. Individuals who commit suicide do so to escape whatever calamity they endure. They may think they are doing their family and friends a “favor” by taking their lives, but I think suicide is selfish because it only ends the pain of the victim. The action itself in nature is selfish. It is an action onto oneself. The victim I would assume is in a place of great despair. I am not trying to belittle their emotions or their lives. I only I am trying to state that when you kill yourself you only take your own feelings into consideration.

      I don’t care how long would pass by. If someone close to me killed themselves I would forever more be scarred by the event. I would always wonder what I could have done differently. Is it fair to me? No, but it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t do that. I think there are many people that would feel the same.

      As I said in the post I agreed with everything in that last quote except the selfishness aspect.

      Oh and I do not believe suicide is a decision taken lightly. I think people make the choice with a heavy heart. Again I am not trying to belittle them. I was merely talking about the consequences and the after effect from the action.

      I hope that makes some sense.

  2. Matthei says :

    Seriously… what is it about suicide that makes people become moralistic, and gives them pretensions to control over someone else’s most intimate domain, their very life?

    Suicide is a personal choice. It has nothing to do with human kind. Every individual has to life their own conscious experience. Someone else CANNOT determine if another’s life is worth living or not. For some, that experience is so bad that they’d rather have no experience at all.

    I abhor the idea that people who are living excruciatingly painful lives (whether emotional or physical) are being emotionally or psychologically pressured to continue living because of religious ideals or nonsense like “betraying human kind.” If I’m feeling nothing but pain every moment of my life, my death doesn’t betray human kind. My death ends my own suffering, and that’s all. Each person is the only person who knows what it feels like to be them, and as such, each person must judge for themselves if they’d rather continue feeling as they do, or to not feel anything at all.

    Nobody knows what it’s like to be somebody else. Nobody knows how terrible it could be to live with certain diseases or disabilities. It’s easy to say from the point of view of a relatively healthy human being that suicide is a “cop out”, but until you really know true pain, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    As an aside: I don’t choose to stay alive because it’s convenient for other people. If someone in my life were in incredible pain, don’t you think it would be screwed up of me to say…. “Oh, just keep this life, keep experiencing all this pain, because it would make me feel sad if you die. It would make me sad, and it would be inconvenient for me, so just feel pain constantly so that I don’t have to experience the sadness and inconvenience of your death.”

    If we’re talking about selfishness, that’s selfish. It’s selfish to expect someone else to live, not because they’re enjoying life, but because their death would inconvenience you.

    • realtalkrealdebate says :

      First, it’s rather presumptuous of you to assume I personally have never experienced great pain. You assume I have never been in that depressed state or have never known anyone who has/is in that place. Not that I care to share with you if indeed I have.

      I will have to re-read my post, but I don’t recall (and excuse me since it’s been awhile since I wrote this) bringing morality into the conversation. My opinion on the matter isn’t because of what religions tell us.

      Suicide itself is selfish. People commit suicide to end their pain. Do you think that’s selfless? The act itself is inherently selfish.

      If anyone were ever in that frame of mind I sincerely hope they find the peace they seek before they died.

      • Matthei says :

        Using the word ‘selfish’ when discussing suicide is pointless.

        All I have to say is that a person who commits suicide typically has been the victim of a vandalized childhood, in which the preadolescent child has been psychologically mugged or sacked, and has had psychological needs, important to THAT child, trampled on and frustrated by malicious, preoccupied or obtuse adults.

        Either way the ramifications of suicide have to be understood realistically.

        When someone commits suicide, the world does not end. The only thing that could matter as far as ramifications go would be that it distresses other living people. Of the people alive, the vast majority will not know the suicide was committed; of the people who know it was committed, the vast majority will not care; of the people that care, the vast majority will get on with life. They will put on the appropriate sad face and partake in the appropriate doxic ceremonies, say it’s a shame, they no doubt would have regretted the decision now, how horrible to lose such a wonderful person, etc. etc. But their actions belie the crocodile tears – their life doesn’t even hit a speedbump, and on we go.

        That leaves the few people who will be devastated by the suicide. That’s still a rather serious consideration, of course, but it varies from person to person: some people have no one who will be devastated if they died, and if I were to bullshit an average number, it seems to me that most people couldn’t have more than 10, if that. That’s plenty enough to stop someone from killing themselves… but, but, but, it may not be.

        Suicide is simply not the world-ending event it’s often made out to be.

      • realtalkrealdebate says :

        I am not trying to chastise people who commit suicide. I don’t know their personal situation. There are many reasons why one would want to end their life and in the end it’s up to that person. I hope they don’t go through with it, but it ultimately is their life.

        My point is that many people neglect to think of those surrounding the victim. No, the suicide itself isn’t the end of the world. I don’t know if anyone’s death can qualify as that. But it certainly can forever change someone’s life in the negative (in terms of the surviving family and friends).

      • Matthei says :

        One more thing:

        The libertarian approach often misses the point, in that suicide is properly not even selfish, in that it destroys the very “self” for whom it is supposed to be performed. In provides no relief, because no one is alive to be relieved; in that sense, it is an expression that commonsense notions of rationality cannot understand. Some, like Kant, upon realizing this, condemn suicide, but the true answer lies in the superficiality of our notions of rationality, I think.

        There is nothing that has quite the significance that suicide has – even self-sacrifice has some achieved end towards which it works, but suicide is a mystery, an existential tantrum that merely explodes and snuffs itself out. It is utterly maddening.

      • realtalkrealdebate says :

        Very interesting point.

        One could argue that the motivation for the action is selfish in nature. They are doing it for their own reasons. They aren’t doing it for anyone else. By ending their “self” they are ending their pain. One could also argue that every action one does can be categorized as selfish.

        But again you make an interesting and rather engaging philosophical point.

        Thanks for all the comments!

      • Aleksei says :

        Does anyone owe anyone else his or her life?

        Does anyone have a duty to suffer for anyone else’s benefit (or to forestall anyone else’s prospective suffering)?

        Does the mere fact (i.e. imposition) of being born render each one of us a slave — to family, to community, to the species?

        It seems to me that, in the absence of answering any of the above in the affirmative, there’s nothing more selfish, and therefore more hypocritical, than stigmatizing suicide as “a selfish act.” Even if it is, so what? Unless the ‘collateral damage’ of killing oneself is premeditated & also irreparable (which it very rarely is), so what? ‘The world’, after all, could stand to be relieved — freely by self-selection — of as many desperately (i.e. pathologically) miserable people as possible; gratitude rather than scorn (or taboo-fear) being the more appropriate, more civilized (i.e. pre-modern, pre-JCI), response.

        Perhaps killing oneself is simply an act of self-defense against ‘involuntary self-torment’. If so, reparable collateral damage is a reasonable trade-off (risk), no?

      • realtalkrealdebate says :

        In the end people have the freedom to choose if they want to keep living. I don’t argue that. The choice is theirs, as well as it should be. My point when I wrote this post last year in response to this article is that the act itself is selfish. I’m not really sure you could argue that it isn’t.

        The main reason I blogged about this sensitive topic was to see people’s reactions to the article itself.

  3. Rebecca says :

    Thanks for this very interesting discussion…. A couple years ago a London Times columnist (Matthew Parris) wrote the following:

    “When I die, and if I have to arrange it myself, I will consult nobody, and do it unassisted if I can. I entertain not a flicker of moral or practical doubt on the subject, and never have. Speaking only for myself — in such matters one should never judge for others — if Nature does not do the job in a timely manner I shall consider it a duty to take matters into my own hands. I can’t tell you how simple I find these arguments: so simple that I’ve hardly bothered to write about the issue. Suicide is the greatest of human freedoms, underwriting all the others, for it gives us the possibility of defying every thing and every one there is. The possibility of suicide is what makes life voluntary and each new day an act of will. No wonder the faith community gnash their teeth at suicide. God Himself, if He existed, would gnash His teeth at suicide: the supreme act of defiance, the final rasberry. The knowledge that I’m here by choice, that every breath I take I take by choice, injects into my soul a transcendent joy”

    [……]

    “Is suicide not the greatest of all tokens of the primacy of the human will ? How shall a man ever demonstrate with more finality that he is the captain of his soul, the master of his ship, than by taking it by his own choice on to the rocks ? Self-inflicted death is the ultimate defiance, the one freedom in your life and mine which nothing and nobody – not even God – can take away…. I have never contemplated suicide and hope I never shall. But to know that I can — to know that tomorrow I too could make that splendid, terrible two-fingered gesture to creation itself is more than life-enhancing: it is sublime”

    *******************

    What do you think about his statment that suicide is…’the ultimate defiance’?

    I think he has a valid point.

    Perhaps if one sees life, for whatever reason, as having an unbearable ‘thing’, an entity, something you continually battle with, then you could be said to be defying it — ultimately, you are saying…. ‘I don’t have to live you’.

    Also, it would seem to me that suicide can perhaps be the most rational and logical of acts. The will to live comes from instinct and emotion, hardly something that should be given over to as a matter of course. They are there as evolutionary processes, a process not known for its compassion or rationality.

    Rebecca

  4. Vespertine says :

    There are some things which people discuss a lot when talking when talking about suicide.

    1) Suicide is selfish.

    Well, expecting someone to live in pain just so you don’t have to cry for a couple of days is even more selfish. Giving birth to children is a very selfish act. You do not (and obviously cannot) ask a person if they wish to be born. They can neither choose their physical/personality traits nor the environment they’re born into. There is a probability that your child’s life will be miserable (of course the opposite is also true). Irrespective of this, people do this everyday. But most people never see it this way ever because it serves them well. Of course, it is not possible to take consent from someone who is unborn, but the point is to make a contrast between giving birth and suicide, and to show that the former is a pretty selfish act too.

    2)The notion of wanting to die means you have a mental illness by definition or that mental illnesses cause suicidal thoughts.

    Okay, “mental illness” is a label with a lot of context under it. Let’s go deeper here.

    For the purpose of discussion, let’s say there are two kinds of mentally ill people (when it comes to depression):

    a.) Those who have a genetic screw-up so that their brains becomes depressed spontaneously or because of a very small trigger which would be inconsequential for most people.

    b.) People who have a screwed up environment i.e. abusive parents, bullies at school etc. or perhaps they have financial problems or whatever.

    The above two categories are simplistic (for the purpose of illustration)because human behaviour is a complex interplay between genetics/innate mechanisms and the environment. In any given case, it is difficult to ascertain which plays how big a role.

    Often treatment is a combination of medicine and talk therapy.

    People have mixed results with this. For some it works, for others it doesn’t. Some people find that their quality of life has improved with the meds and that talk therapy has given them coping strategies. Others find that the meds don’t work or that they have horrible side effects despite trying many of them and that talk therapy is basically a way to convince them that life is good no matter how much it sucks.

    Also, being a part of the psychiatric or mental health system is horribly stigmatising and can also lead to other complications. Psychiatry, although not a pseudoscience, is still a relatively imprecise science (compared to cardiology, neurology etc.) because it deals with something as complex as human behaviour.

    For instance, two people labeled bipolar may be very different from each other. It is very easy to pathologise their situation without getting into the details and say that their wanting to kill themselves is due to an organic dysfunction in every case and it has nothing to do with their environment or their past.

    Now meds and talk therapy do NOTHING to eliminate the environmental factors which cause trouble (if any). They do not remove abusive parents or bullies or alleviate your financial problems. You have to find the strength to make it through all this. Sometimes, this is not possible.

    Labeling each and every act of wanting to end it all as a mental illness (although some may be) and forcing treatment is atrocious.

    Mental illness or not. Pain is pain. Even the mentally ill should have the choice to die if their quality of life is not good in their opinion despite all sorts of treatment.

    Unless you can do some sort of an objective test to ascertain reasonably well that a person wants to end it all and that desire is purely out of a brain dysfunction that has nothing to do with the environment, you should not constantly bandy about this idea. Even bad environmental stressors cause mental health problems, especially if you have a vulnerability.

    3.)Every problem has a solution. Life always gets better in every case.

    This is simply not true. Anyone who says so is dishonest or deluded.

    4.)Life is a gift. Life is beautiful. Life is painful.

    These are subjective opinions which may change with time. Objectively, life is neither beautiful nor painful. It just is.

    5.)You do not have the right to die.

    It’s funny that your own life and your own sense of self has to be dictated by the law and by the whims of other people. We could go into imagination and philosophy about everything being interrelated, about the self not existing etc., but please, let’s be practical.

    6.) If people want to die, they can do it themselves. Do not expect society to do it for you.

    I agree. The thing is, the drugs required to die painlessly (like the barbiturates Dignitas uses) are kept off limits by society and the govt. Why do this? Not taking part is one thing and standing in the way is another thing. People are forced to resort to traumatic and painful methods of death like sleeping pills, hanging, drowning etc. which may not necessarily kill you and have a high probability of causing further complications.

    7.) Look at the starving children in Africa or on the streets. They have nothing. You have it better than them.

    This is such a simplistic argument. Life is a LOT more complex and convoluted than that.

    8.) All life is wired to survive. Not wanting to survive is abnormal.

    Yes, all life has the instinct to survive. But we are human beings. We have big and complex brains. We often go against the natural, Darwinian norm. For example, we use contraception thereby avoiding pregnancies. We care for the sick and the disabled instead of eliminating them.

    Similarly, human beings can choose to not live too.

    I think the real problems associated with suicide are different.

    Firstly, allowing suicide undermines everyone’s subjective notion and/or rationalisation that life is beautiful (a notion that is important for survival). Secondly, when is it okay to commit suicide? Is it okay if you have a minor kid dependent on you? Perhaps not. Is it okay if you have no one directly dependent on you to survive? Perhaps, yes.
    Thirdly, allowing suicide to be openly accessible would allow people to die for petty things and for problems that could be overcome. Yes, this is a problem. But, I think it is horrible to force someone to exist when their own body cannot handle it. Your body can only handle so much pain to avoid someone else’s pain.

    Sorry, if this sounds like an angsty little rant and if it is too negative. But I had to get it out of my system because all the politically correct BS out there that one is fed and the fact that this isn’t talked about much in an open manner because it is always censored is annoying. I’m trying to focus on the negative aspects, not because you can’t think positively, but that the negative side is always hushed up.

    Lastly, I doubt anyone wants to die simply. What they want is to eliminate pain and fear. Death is but a way to do this.

    • realtalkrealdebate says :

      I don’t mind the discussion at all. In fact I encourage it.

      You make several good points. There are a myriad of reasons why someone would commit suicide. Personally, while I naively hope the person can change their circumstances and get better, this is unrealistic and foolish. I by no means condemn or judge those who decide to end their lives. The discussion of suicide is rather convoluted.

      I would have to argue that while giving birth might be selfish it is also essential. I do not believe it is comparable in terms of selfishness to that of suicide. I believe that most if not all acts are those out of selfishness. My comment that suicide is a selfish decision struck a cord with some readers. Maybe some feel I am judging them. Not the case though.

      Suicide is a taboo topic in our society. That was one of the reasons I decided to write this post the many months ago.

      Thank you for your passionate discussion!

      BTW, how did you find my article? I have been getting many new comments on this post, which I wrote a very long time ago, and I wonder why the renewed interest.

  5. Anderrin says :

    In case you missed it there is a brand new book on suicide by the poet and intellectual historian Jennifer Michael Hecht titled ‘Stay’… Here is an excerpt:

    “So I want to say this and forgive me the strangeness of it. Don’t kill yourself. When a person kills himself, he does wrenching damage to the community….Don’t kill yourself. Suffer here with us instead. We need you with us, we have not forgotten you, you are our hero. Stay.”

    She wants to debunk the prevailing secular dogma that killing yourself is morally permissible, a matter of personal choice. She writes: “Outside the idea that God forbids it, our society today has no coherent argument against suicide”

    The mainstream media has also given her space.

    Last week the Chronicle of Higher Education here:

    http://chronicle.com/article/Stopping-Suicide/143279/#comment-1152363899

    And The New York Times this morning:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/06/opinion/brooks-the-irony-of-despair.html?ref=opinion#commentsContainer

    The sheer incompetence of this book is truly staggering and I can’t believe they refer to suicide as “chronological arrogance”

  6. Terry Grigg says :

    This is one of the most prejudiced, bigoted, natalist and discriminatory pieces of life affirming bullshit I’ve read in a long time. With words like Epidemic, Grim, Stealing, Grisly and of course Selfish, we might as well be back in the America of the fifties. It is the imposition of life that needs to be addressed and such words are far more appropriate to that issue.

  7. Terry Grigg says :

    I was referring to Tony Dokoupil. His attitude is all too typical of prevailing attitudes in society today, and he certainly shoots from the hip on this one. I feel it is a basic human right to die with dignity at a time of one’s choosing, regardless of circumstances, situation or medical condition. To this end I believe that Dignitas style clinics should be made available for all those who need them in as many locations as necessary.

    At present this right is denied to so many thousands of suffering individuals purely to satisfy the whims of a religious and natalist driven orthodoxy. If we do not have rights over our own bodies, then we do not have any rights at all. In my view it is unforgivable keeping someone alive against their will and who no longer wants to be here. Society condemns so many to die alone in agony, to die from very violent deaths or continue living in pain from botched suicide attempts. It is a simple enough request to have drugs like Nembutal (Pentobarbital) readily made available, to aid a peaceful and dignified exit from this world. And not to have Big Brother dictating to us what is in our best interests. We are all adults and capable of making life (and death) choices for ourselves.

    So I now suggest there is an immediate change in the law to allow not only assisted suicide for those who desire it, but also drugs like Nembutal to be made available on prescription for the purposes of ending life. Suicide is not illegal and should be made much easier to carry out, without incurring discrimination, blame, stigma or criminality of any kind. It is indeed the human rights issue of the 21st Century.

    You may care to have a look at my petition on the subject…http://www.thepetitionsite.com/897/102/309/assisted-suicidevoluntary-euthanasia-available-to-all/#sign

  8. Nick L. says :

    A general question:

    Do you have sympathy for intellectually slow people?

    Let me clarify what I mean by ‘intellectually slow person’. Obviously I am not referring to the person who meets the criteria for an Intellectual Disability (also called mental retardation)…. I am talking about the person who has the ability to learn necessary academic skills, but at a rate and depth below average same age peers. In order to grasp new concepts, this person needs more time, more repetition, and often more resources from teachers to be successful. Typically, this person has great difficulty with new and complex reasoning which makes new concepts difficult to learn.

    A slow learner has traditionally been identified as anyone with a Full Scale IQ one standard deviation below the mean but not as low as two standard deviations below the mean. The cognitive abilities of these learners are too high to be considered for an Intellectual Disability. However, the abilities are usually too low to be considered for a Learning Disability. Consider that a learning disability consists of discrepancies between average abilities and below average academics, coupled with a processing deficit. Schools often look for a discrepancy between a student’s ability and where they are performing. Slow learners tend to perform at their ability level which is below average. Unfortunately, these struggling learners often do not receive special education services.

    These individuals are prone to much anxiety and low self image which goes unnoticed by many in society. They often feel ‘stupid’ and begin hating school at an early age. Day-to-day academic life can be very draining and yet many somehow manage to make it through the system and through high school (in the United States)

    The psychologist and intelligence researcher Linda Gottfredson wrote a good piece titled Why g Matters: The Complexity of Everyday Life. An excerpt:

    “Life is replete with uncertainty, change, confusion, and misinformation, sometimes minor and at times massive. From birth to death, life continually requires us to master abstractions, solve problems, draw inferences, and make judgments on the basis of inadequate information. Such demands may be especially intense in school, but they hardly cease when one walks out the school door…”

    http://www.udel.edu/educ/gottfreds…prints/1997whygmatters.pdf

    Two questions:

    1. Can you sympathize with a person who says that one of their major reasons for contemplating suicide often is that they just don’t feel competent to handle the mental demands of today’s increasingly complex social environment?

    2. Is it morally permissible for the intellectually slow person to commit suicide?

  9. Angela Thomas says :

    Reblogged this on L!fe Happens and commented:
    The numbers will stun you! Where it ranks will shock you!

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