1 Feb 2010

Establishing Assited Suicide Arguments

I have listened to the discussions on assisted suicide on the radio today in earnest.

When the discussions began many years ago, I think I would have immediately answered that Assisted Suicide should be at the very least decriminalised.

However, the recent court cases have made me think about the proposals in a more detailed way.

Panorama this evening is covering the case of Bridget Gilderdale and the judgement clearing her of attempted murder of her daughter Lynn after Lynn asked her to help her commit suicide as Lynn no longer wished to live with ME.

With the high profile discussion by author Terry Prachet on Radio 4's Today Programme on legislating on Assisted Suicide, the usual floodgates of discussion have opened once again.

However, the soundbite the BBC have announced on their news programme has been publicised as a proposal on legislating for Assisted Suicide for those with incurable diseases.

And my immediate response is there is a significant difference between "incurable" and "terminal".

Diabetes is an incurable disease. Ecsma is an incurable condition. But I consider someone's inability to live with such conditions indicative of failings in our health service, not a reason to commit suicide.

To suffer from a terminal disease means you will eventually succumb to the disease within a period of time. This could be Multiple Sclerosis, aggressive cancer or another debilitating illness.

The ultimate issue here is that a terminal disease has a term or length. An incurable disease can be maintained, managed, and will not result in death in spite of medical attention.

As the House of Lords have stated, the potential danger of opening up legislation to allow Assisted Suicide will result in abuse of the system. The current recommendations are to observe the level of public interest in prosecuting those who assist suicide.

When you start examining cases of mental health, the situation becomes even more contentious. Once the issue of depression or related disorders enter the mainframe, it is impossible to determine whether the patient with an "incurable" disease is acting as a result of the suffering from the pain or through the suffering of the depression.

Principally, ME sufferers generally suffer from depression. Therefore, to assist them in Suicide may be infact to assist in a mental health suicide and have little or nothing to do with ME.

This creates such a moral dilemma, I feel I must disagree with legislating on Assisted Suicide.

I cannot justify suicide for sufferers from mental health, especially as studies indicate the correct amount of psychological and medicine therapies can help the condition become manageable.

I am quite open to discussion on this, feel free to convince me otherwise. I think the current guidelines are satisfactory as they review public interest in prosecution, something we use far too little in the UK. But that's another discursive.

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