The Right to die?

You who keep one eye close upon British news will be familiar with the story of Daniel James, a 23 year old Rugby player paralysed from the chest down who ended his life this week at a Swiss clinic. For the rest of you

I agree with euthanasia. If I ever develop a terminal illness or meet with something so destructive I should be required to spend the rest of my life hooked up to a machine, I wish to be switched off at the earliest opportunity and my organs handed to the needy. I do not, however, agree with this.

Still. It’s easy for me, isn’t it? I am very clever and good looking. I’ve not had my spine crushed in a rugby accident. I have a full set of limbs and a pulse. It’s easy for me to sit in judgement on this boy, isn’t it? I am not in constant pain. I do not require almost everything to be done for me by other people. I do not have to bear the guilt of being a millwheel around my parents’ necks for the rest of their natural lives. My career is not over. My hopes for the future are not dead. I can give love to those I care about. I can help others along my way. I am lucky because I am alive in this small moment and I am lucky because I believe I know what that means, although I could be wrong.

Does anybody have the right to suicide? These are, after all, our own lives. One’s own life is the only thing that we can be said to own completely. If we wish to end it for any reason, can it be said that it is our own business and our business alone? We can do as we please in our free time, what concern is it of anybody else? If it is what one wants, why not?

Doesn’t it seem simple when laid out like this? Doesn’t it seem logical? My life, my choice? It isn’t. It really isn’t.
Maybe you think to yourself, as Daniel James no doubt did, that you are doing other people a favour by taking yourself away from them. Maybe you envision yourself slumped Chatterton-like upon a couch. Maybe you have some Romantic notion that it is a good and noble thing. Maybe you just have so much noise in your head that you are thinking no further than how to make it stop.
Whatever you are thinking, please, don’t think that it is a good idea.

In this particular case, I have to wonder where the doctors were when he decided this was what he wanted and when his family decided to assist him. Anybody in that situation should be getting some kind of psychological support, as should his family. Anybody in that situation with two previous suicide attempts should have big red letters and alarms all over their medical files.
What happened when he became a danger to himself? Did they look at him with pity and think to themselves how glad they were it wasn’t them? Did they decide to let him have that last bit of dignity? Were they there at all?

It is the hardest thing in the world to ask for help. It is harder still to get it. The psychiatric services in the UK are hopelessly overstretched. The ones in Ireland are worse. Ireland has one of highest suicide rates in Europe and Wexford has the highest rate in Ireland. Most weeks the local rag will carry the story of somebody who died “suddenly”, as they put it.

If you are in a bad situation, please, don’t go there. Sometimes things happen. Eventually everything becomes a long time ago.

Keep yourselves safe and, if you need to talk, my inbox is always open.