Dignified Death

Some believe that news papers don't report suicides, but when Kurt Cobain found dead, reportedly of a suicide, news outlets had no problem running that story.

Some believe that news papers don’t report suicides, but when Kurt Cobain found dead, reportedly of a suicide, news outlets had no problem running that story.

It is not often that news outlets report suicides.  Often times, the only reason that a news outlet does report a suicide, is because it is a celebrity.  This is problematic for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the exploitation to somebody’s personal tragedy.  More problematic than this, however, is the under-reporting going on.  There is an important social issue that needs to be discussed, and by not printing articles on this issues, newspapers are restricting our access to important information.  There are close to 4000 suicides a year in Canada: more than ten every day.  This number does not include attempted suicides, so the problem is bigger than it looks on the surface.  Most see such numbers and think the issue is that the number is too high.  Many would be tempted to try and solve the issues; find the root cause and weed it out.  This, however, is the wrong question.  The question should be: Why aren’t these people allowed a dignified death?

 

Double suicides may seem romantic in films, but in real life, most would prefer to have the assistance of a healthcare professional.

Double suicides may seem romantic in films, but in real life, most would prefer to have the assistance of a healthcare professional.

The Toronto Sun is one of very few publications to run a suicide headline in recent times.  They reported that a couple from Etobicoke recently jumped from an 18th-story balcony to their deaths.  The wife, in her 85th years, was reportedly in great pain.  He husband, in his 90th year, did not want to go on living without her, and so the couple jumped together.  Some neighbours said they were “shocked”, but they were perhaps shocked for the wrong reason.  It is not shocking to think that somebody who is enduring a great deal of pain should want to end that pain.  What is shocking is that they are not allowed to do so in a dignified manner.  Their funeral will no doubt be a closed casket, but worse than that is the panic and fear the couple must have endured during the process.  This is not something anybody should have to go through.

 

 

Jack Kevorkian went to prison for providing a disabled person with the dignified death they wanted.

Jack Kevorkian went to prison for providing a disabled person with the dignified death they wanted.

Whether it be by gunshot, jumping, hanging, overdose, or any other method, suicide in Canada is a needlessly painful, cruel and traumatic experience, not just for those committing suicide, but for the family members of those who wish to die as well.  A person who no long wishes to be alive should have a dignified option for death.  They should be permitted, if they choose, to speak to family members about their decision, and prepare to say goodbye to their loved ones.  They should be able to go to a facility and be relaxed and pass on in a manner that does not involve a great deal of pain or the chance of survival that would see them severely injured.  They should be able to choose how they die.

 

Our government refuses to deal with this issue.  Instead, they are more interested in ensuring that the citizens of Canada are invested in the political system and social structure.  They wish to prescribe and enforce morals onto Canadians.  Newspapers work in concert with the government in this respect and fail to report suicides, keeping the issue out of the public sphere.  The issue, though, does not go away.  In fact, the suicide rates have increased slightly over the last ten years.  By underreporting this issues, newspapers make it appear as if suicide isn’t an issue at all, when it is actually a growing problem in Canada.

 

The Canadian government seems more concerned with prescribing moral than allowing its citizens to have a dignified death.

The Canadian government seems more concerned with prescribing moral than allowing its citizens to have a dignified death.

The government’s authority depends on the will to live.  If one has power over their own death, then the government’s authority is nullified.  Every law the government makes is enforced with the threat of confinement, or financial penalty.  If one has the freedom to die, it would effectively negate any threat the government can apply to a citizen’s actions because the citizen can die before the government gets to extract its pound of flesh.  The government has no interest in rescinding its authority, and so will not allow a citizen to commit suicide.  The government will not allow doctor-assisted suicide, not because it cares about its citizens and wants to preserve the lives of every Canadian, but rather because it would rather maintain its authority over every citizen than grant such a freedom to its citizens.

 

Hunter S. Thompson had to endure a self-inflicted gun-shot wound when he wanted to end his life.

Hunter S. Thompson had to endure a self-inflicted gun-shot wound when he wanted to end his life.

Had doctor-assisted suicide been legal, the elderly couple from Etobicoke would have been able to die a peaceful, painless death.  They would have been able to die together without worrying about the pain they might endure, or the pain their partner might endure.  They could have consulted their family, and physician, and set up their own funeral arrangements.  They could have had a dignified death.  The Canadian government, though, would rather they jump to their death from a balcony than die peacefully in a healthcare facility.  They would rather such a couple live in pain and follow the prescribed morality of the government than die in a manner of their own choosing.  They would rather maintain their authority over citizens in pain, than allow those citizens to end their pain in a peaceful, dignified manner.

Socrates: Perhaps the most famous suicide of all tim.

Socrates: Perhaps the most famous suicide of all time.

 

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Rambler About Rambler

Jason John Horn is a writer and critic who recently completed his Master's in English Literature at the University of Windsor. He has composed a play, a novella and a number of short stories and satirical essays.

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