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19 May, 2008

Deeply chilling

I have a visceral opposition to suicide, bordering on incomprehension.  Much the same applies to voluntary euthanasia, though I can understand (intellectually but not emotionally) how someone suffering a degenerative terminal condition might wish to take control, avoiding the worst final stages.  If a friend or family member made that choice, I'd struggle to accept it, but couldn't condemn it outright.

I'm vaguely aware of a euthanasia 'community', of people with the skills to assist suicide and, more importantly, the professionalism to know when not to exercise those skills.

Jon Ronson, in an article for the Guardian and TV documentary for the BBC (to be broadcast this evening, 19 May), investigates two darker varieties of suicide consultants.
One seems a little too eager to send people on to 'a better existence', and assists those with potentially treatable mental health problems rather than terminal illnesses: people who are depressed enough to seek death, but who might respond to counselling.
Another does it for the money, seeing it as a way to pay the water bills.

At ~4,000 words it's a fairly long article, but I'd urge you to read it. I suspect some might use it as ammunition against the whole concept of assisted suicide, but that's far too simplistic; if anything it highlights consequences of voluntary euthanasia remaining taboo, underground and unregulated.


[Via Real E Fun – as always, sensitive yet challenging.]

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