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People Suffer, but Suicide Is Bad Medicine

By: Letter to the Editor - Feb 9, 2015, 9:26 am
Charlotte Groarke: "Pain can cloud people's minds, so they do not have the competency required to make serious decisions." (102 The Avenue)
Charlotte Groarke: “pain can cloud people’s minds, so they do not have the competency required to make serious decisions.” (102 The Avenue)

EspañolThe ban on assisted suicide in Canada ought to remain.

It is true that most of us do not have any idea of the uncontrollable pain and agony that some sick people suffer. However, this pain can cloud people’s minds, so they do not have the competency required to make serious decisions.

I am afraid that others may make this decision for them, and that power might be abused.

Further, for those of us who believe life is a gift from God, ending that life deliberately is an arrogant act (remember the Fifth Commandment). That holds for those of us who believe in an afterlife, for whom the end of our life ought not be the cause of huge anxiety; we ought to look forward to it happily.

I believe this is the aim of those who advocate assisted suicide. They want to hurry up the process. But therein lies the dilemma: to live the life we know or to hurry into the life we do not know.

For me the answer is to let nature take its course; disease and death are part of our natural process. With modern medical knowledge, we should be able to help people die comfortably and calmly, alleviating their pain and anxiety through the administration of pain-relieving drugs and sedation, and by being with them and treating them with respect and love. This is the mission of palliative care.

That is not to say we have an obligation to prolong life officiously or aggressively. This too is acting as God in much the same way as assisted suicide does.

In terms of the law, we may not be able to force people to do what we believe is right. But at the same time, we ought not make laws that represent wrong against others as right.

While I believe all the above, I remain torn by compassion for those people who see nothing but agonizing pain, immobility, and dependency in their future. They and their relatives seek a new law that will not find them guilty when they perform an act that they believe to be right.

But would that new law open the door to less respect for life? It seems inevitable. Ultimately, a well-informed and loving mind ought to be our guide in all our actions.

Charlotte Groarke
Homemaker, author of Letters from Doig
Calgary, Alberta