the vicious cycle of suicide …

October 4, 2011

in Bioethics,Hospice & Palliative Medicine

… “Evidence suggests that legalized PAS will result in a greater number of suicides more generally (and not simply amongst the population who opt for legalized PAS). We will have great difficulty, on the one hand, giving our and medicine’s approval to suicide as the solution to complex problems at the end of life while, on the other, getting the message across to youth and despairing others, that suicide does not solve the messy problems our lives pose to us. Well-regarded studies indicate that suicides lead to suicides. The phenomena has been repeatedly confirmed: awareness of the suicide of one person leads to suicides of similarly situated people. The greater the awareness, the larger the number of suicides of similarly situated people …” read the rest of Cavanaugh’s analysis …

[ he concludes] … “One overarching way of putting this is that our respect for life, including our own lives is something we share in common with one another. Those who regard their lives and the lives of others as disposable affect how others think about the value of human life, both theirs (in the case of suicide) and that of others (in the case of murder-suicide). A society that expands the typically highly constrained circumstances in which human life may be taken thereby undermines respect for life. Simply put, undermining respect for life leads to more deaths. More precisely, legalizing PAS will probably lead to more suicides, and not simply to more physician-assisted suicides. That is, with the legalization of PAS and the publication of deaths that occur by PAS, we ought to find an increase in suicide by single-car accidents, by walking in front of cars, and by various other means that one would not initially consider suicides. These suicides will not be of people who have been screened for depression, and so on, as the guidelines for PAS require. Rather, they will be of those who see others and society proposing suicide as a solution to some of life’s problems from which they suffer.”

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