Monday, November 24, 2014

Is Suicide Murder?

I'm fortunate that suicide has only touched my life a handful of times.  When a colleague suffocated herself, I found that it helped in sorting out my thoughts and feelings on the matter to write a short story called "The Stars Within the Glass."  Admittedly, those thoughts and feelings can be a little overwhelming.  In 1998, a young woman named  Mora McGowan and her addict boyfriend hung themselves off of Portland's Steel Bridge.  I had known Mora and her sister in elementary school and junior high, and I'll never forget the child's happy, innocent smile or how much she loved to read good books.  If we try to look beyond the emotions, though, what is the morality of suicide?

If murder is indeed the intentional killing of a human being, then suicide seems to fit that description.  With the well-publicized suicides of Robin Williams and Oregon's Brittany Maynard, we need to take a close look at the minefield before us.  If we accept that suicide is a legitimate answer in only some situations--e.g. terminal illness--then we are, in effect, placing the pain of one group of people on a pedestal, discounting the pain of others as inferior.  This only makes it that much more abundantly clear that suicide is never the answer.

In other words, if you support a terminally ill patent's attempt to kill herself, why don't you also support the depressed teen or the mentally ill person who has a similar desire?  How about a disabled person who is tired of living with the pain of a severe disability?  You see, don't you, where this leads?  There is, frankly, no end to the people you might encourage in their planned suicide.  We all experience pain, after all.  If you pick and're placing the pain of one group of people above the pain of the other.  Your logic crumbles, and it exposes a black heart.  

As an aside, I'll offer a brief suggestion here.  Learn the histories and backgrounds of those organizations who fight for death.  Don't mistakenly assume they have society's best interest in mind, because they most assuredly do not.

Suicide, euthanasia, and abortion are all manifestations of a devaluation of life around us.  Life is not a commodity; it is a sacred gift.  We didn't create ourselves, and we didn't set our own hearts to beating.  Ending this life in suicide is throwing away the greatest gift we have.  Perseverance, hope, and prayer don't offer an immediate release, but, of course, neither does suicide.  Death is just the beginning of what's to come.

So, I ask you to stop glorifying and praising suicide as a "personal choice."  It's the wrong choice; it's a selfish choice, and it's murder.  For once, let's call it for what it is.  Instead, embrace life with thankfulness and endeavor to offer up the pain.

Monsignor Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, the head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said “dignity is something other than putting an end to one’s own life,” when asked about Maynard’s decision to kill herself. Carrasco de Paula said “Brittany Maynard’s act is in itself reprehensible, but what happened in the consciousness we do not know.”


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