I have to rush out to go to a wedding reception so apologies for this post being short and rubbish but quickly, here’s a story on the Daily Mail website about a twenty six year old woman who swallowed anti-freeze and arrived at hospital with a note requesting her wish to die. Which was honoured.
It has the usual hysterical Daily Mail title of,
What kind of country have we become if doctors and lawyers allow a disturbed young woman to die?
She requested pain-killing treatment and explained she had called an ambulance because she didn’t want to die at home alone.
The problem here is that she was young and physically healthy and her illness was a mental one. There is a prevailing attitude that anybody with a mental illness who is suicidal isn’t in their right mind. In fact, having a mental illness at all- which invariably clouds your judgment (as does pain in the case of terminal illness, but that’s different because death is imminent)- means that their wish to die shouldn’t be respected. That people are always treated, always eventually saved, will always look back and say, “I’m so glad I didn’t end my life then”.
But that isn’t always the case and sometimes, ending your life is the rational decision you take, not the irrational one. And as far as someone can demonstrate that they know what they’re doing, then their wishes should be respected.
The Hippocratic Oath is the tenet of practice in modern medicine but medical intervention can just be a sticking plaster prolonging the process of life without any consideration as to which quality of life the person has. It’s the whole, “sanctity of life” idea, that, “Hey, at least you’re alive!”, without thinking if that life is worth living to that person. Not everyone would choose life over death. If they had intervened in this case, Kerrie might have just been on dialysis for the rest of her life, and possibly would have made another suicide attempt.
I know it’s all well and good saying, “might have been”, by the way. Likewise, you could argue she might have been okay, might have been happy. But she wanted to die, the doctors honoured her wishes and they shouldn’t be attacked for it as harbingers of moral doom. It is far more respectful to actually give a thought to the individual person’s desires than to just treat them with the vague, hypothetical, “first do no harm”. And I think it’s everyone’s right to end their own life if they want. It is their life, after all.
Anyway, excuse the lack of proper intelligent commentary here but I mostly just wanted to bring this story to your attention- what do you think? Should the doctors have intervened and tried to save her life? Should suicidal people be allowed to die if you can’t prove that they’re in their “right mind”?
Filed under: Bipolar Disorder