A few weeks ago, on September 10, it was World Suicide Prevention Day. In New Zealand, it was close to election day so one particular politician used this as an opportunity to bash another politician from an opposing political party. I’ll put the post down below, it’s (surprisingly) still up on Facebook too.
Why on earth would he do this? For some context here, Jacinda is the leader of the opposition party to his. She spoke at parliament for an event for WSPD. This douche nozzle politician then calls her out on it, saying that it’s hypocritical for her to have zero tolerance for youth suicide yet support euthanasia. To use an event like this to take down your rivals is pretty douchey on it’s own, but it adds insult to injury when he equates suicide to euthanasia, and he doesn’t do anything himself to acknowledge the suicide problem NZ has either.
This politician got way too much press, and it seemed to encourage debate among my friends on the difference between suicide and euthanasia. So what differences are there? Everything!
Euthanasia is a form of ‘assisted dying’ where people take some medication to end their suffering. Usually it is elderly people who have some incurable, painful disease which is going to kill them anyway. Taking some drugs allows them to end their lives on their own terms instead of putting up with unnecessary suffering and a reduced quality of life. Euthanasia is NOT for people who just impulsively feel like ending it all. These people have a chronic, debilitating, and often terminal physical condition. Ideally, euthanasia is carried out with plenty of rational thought also. These people know that their condition isn’t treatable nor can they live a half-assed life with it.
Suicide is usually carried out by those who are extremely depressed. It is a mental health issue. These people feel (either impulsively or otherwise) that life is not worth living for, regardless of how good their life may be on the outside. But for suicidal people there is hope. With therapy, lifestyle changes and possibly some medication, there is a brighter side for them. It isn’t easy but there is hope out there.
I have had suicidal thoughts in my life a few times before.
It pained me to write that last sentence but it’s true. There have been times where life has been really down, I have felt under a lot of pressure, and I have had some impulsive thoughts of suicide as a way of escape. It’s weird, because most of the time I have felt fine and wouldn’t have even considered doing it. I think that’s what many people who have actually killed themselves may have felt. Their friends and family are shocked when they hear the news, they thought everything was going fine with them; and maybe things were fine on the outside (most of the time). An impulsive thought can change everything. I’m not going to attempt to generalise suicide victims though as there is probably a wild range of reasons why people do it. But most likely these victims will try to hide what they are feeling very well, because it is easier to do so instead of reaching out for help.
But I know life is worth living for. When things are down, they will get better. The problems you are facing right now probably aren’t everything. I get that if you’re depressed these sayings probably sound empty and cliched but it’s true. I would never actually commit to suicide because I think there is a lot to live for. There would be no going back if I did, and it would be extremely hard on all the family and friends I have. Suicide is a hard topic to bring up, and it’s obviously very bleak, but I think it is something which needs to be talked about more. Making such a topic taboo would only magnify it’s power, and I believe it’s part of the reason why NZ has such high suicide rates despite having a fairly high standard of living. We need to address this problem more and not be like Simon who appears to completely misunderstand suicide and not do anything good for it.
One last thing on euthanasia.
One potential issue which has been brought up is the fear that euthanasia might encourage more suicide. For starters, most people (hopefully all?) who support euthanasia are staunchly against suicide; they are completely different things as I have explained previously. Secondly, euthanasia is something which would only be used in very specific circumstances, like in the examples I previously explained. It would not be for anyone who just feels like ending it all. In summary, it would be for people who have a highly debilitating, chronic and often terminal physical disease.
Euthanasia should be available for terminally ill elderly patients. If you are suicidal, please talk to someone about it. A close friend, family, some hotline, a doctor, anyone but no-one. There is help out there for you.
– The Covert Atheist.
Image source: International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP).