10/3/12

Cardinal O'Malley on Physician Assisted Suicide


Cardinal Sean O'Malley, the Archbishop of Boston, posts every Friday night on his blog.

Anticipating a question that will appear on the ballot in Massachusetts on November 6, Cardinal Sean posted a statement last week on this critical issue.

Though the matter of physician assisted suicide may not be appearing on the ballot where you live, the moral question involved and our response to it is very much alive in contemporary culture and certainly deserving of our attention.

Here's the beginning Cardinal Sean's post, followed by a link to the complete statement.
Suicide is always a tragedy
Most people I know have lost a friend, a family member or loved one to suicide. Sometimes the depression and anxiety had been apparent for a long time; other times people are taken completely off guard, not even suspecting the deep torment that a loved one endured secretly.

We have come to appreciate how dangerous depression can be. It is like quicksand that devours a person in the unstoppable urge to self-destruction. Sometimes we experience a rash of suicides in a community, as one depressed person — upon hearing of a friend, acquaintance or even a stranger, who takes his own life — repeats that action. The copycat syndrome is a very real danger. The suffering of a suicide reverberates in the psyche of friends, relatives and co-workers and also in people who have attempted or considered suicide in the past. Suicide always affects other people; it is never an act that only affects the individual involved. Family members, friends and neighbors often are filled with lingering sadness, guilt and confusion. Sometimes those who are closest to the deceased never completely recover, never forgive themselves and are haunted for the rest of their lives by the loss.

There are dedicated suicide prevention organizations like the Samaritans that stand ready to help people in the throes of depression and suicidal thoughts. Many volunteers stand ready on their hotlines, always prepared to try to bring solace and help to those suffering from suicidal impulses. There are also heroic first responders who often risk their lives to help stop someone from taking one’s own life. All of us are called upon to be Good Samaritans and to work to prevent suicides in our community.

The World Health Organization (WHO) studies suicides throughout the world. One of their pleas to governments is to avoid presenting suicide as a solution to peoples’ problems. In a way, that is what physician-assisted suicide is doing for one group of people — those with terminal diagnoses of six months or less. Oregon, the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide, has one of the highest rates of suicide (not including deaths from PAS) of any state in the nation. It begs a logical question: how can a state effectively both try to minimize suicide in some situations and promote it as a legal alternative in other situations? There is no doubt that efforts to prevent suicides will be undermined by legalizing suicide for those with terminal diagnoses and presenting it as normal and acceptable. Suicide, in any form, is always a tragedy — a tragedy that all people of good will should work to prevent...
(Read Cardinal Sean's complete statement here)
You'll find previous posts on this topic (with video) herehere, here and here.

Linked Assisted Suicide Posts

 

     
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