As I see it: Suicide is not the answer to my terminal illness

As I see it: Suicide is not the answer to my terminal illness

Now, in Massachusetts, our legislature is considering making assisted suicide a medical treatment, and I cannot help but to think about my experience with suicide.  Forty-six years ago, my husband chose suicide by shooting himself in the back of his head in our bed. We both were 31, our daughter was 8 and our three sons were 7, 4 and 2.  On that Sunday afternoon, our lives were shattered…

Although motivations may be different, maybe not, between a death like my husband’s and the death being proposed in this bill, assisted suicide is still suicide. Proponents would readily point out the difference between my husband’s taking his life in his prime and people with terminal illness and disability taking their lives. But how many of us think or even say that we would give anything to have just one more day or hour with our loved one? When someone dies of natural causes, rather than by suicide, loved ones can have peace of mind of knowing that it was not the sick person who chose to leave them.

I have a rare form of cancer and my husband has a slow progressing form of dementia. We are not afraid to die. We understand that there may be some existential suffering, but many are not aware that there are great resources available within palliative care to control physical pain. Where assisted suicide is legal, however, inadequate pain control is not even among the top five reasons people choose assisted suicide.

In fact, existential and disability-related concerns dominate the top five reasons. Rather than giving these patients death to alleviate their existential sufferings – the same sort of suffering my husband had – we should be pushing for greater social supports and access to them…

Read the full story at the Worcester Telegram…