Is rational suicide for real?

Judie Brown
June 28, 2019 © Judie Brown
Reproduced with Permission

Yes, it is. In fact, rational suicide has become a hot topic among seniors! That sounds pretty ominous to me, but according to at least one news article, rational suicide is a subject quite a few senior citizens take seriously. According to the story, many elderly people have been pondering this question: "When they feel they have lived long enough, how can they carry out their own swift and peaceful death?"

One medical journal defines rational suicide "as occurring when a person is able to reason, possess sufficient information, have a realistic worldview, and act (to end their own life) according to their own essential interests."

If this sounds totally illogical - if not bizarre - get ready for the kicker.

Among the advocates for this practice and for medically assisted suicide in general is Timothy Quill, MD. Quill has publicly admitted that "he gave a 45-year-old patient with leukemia sleeping pills so she could end her life." As recounted by the New York Times in 1991,

He [Quill] said Diane repeated her wish to die after the blood cancer began causing constant pain. He advised her to get information from the Hemlock Society, a group that advocates the right to die. "A week later she phoned me with a request for barbiturate for sleep," Dr. Quill wrote. "I knew this was an essential ingredient in a Hemlock Society suicide.

"I made sure that she knew how to use the barbiturates for sleep, and also that she knew the amount needed to commit suicide."

At the time, some medical ethics experts concurred with Quill's action. The argument was that Quill knew his patient, so his actions were understandable. Though this sounds eerily like a backhanded endorsement of euthanasia, few rushed to define it that way.

Quill also weighed in on the Terri Schiavo case. You will recall that Schiavo was starved to death in a hospice facility in 2005. Quill argued that because Schiavo was in a persistent vegetative state, the course of action that killed her was reasonable. Yet, the fact remained that a very long list of physicians signed a sworn affidavit stating that Terri was NOT in a persistent vegetative state!

But Quill, like so many in the medical, political, and educational community, is driven by the skewed idea that patients who ask for death - or who are dying or who are unable to speak in their own defense - are patients who would be better off dead. Such death-mongers cannot admit that the most vulnerable among us are the very people who need love, understanding, and compassionate affirmation that their lives have value, no matter what stage.

Supporters of euthanasia believe that imposed death is so much easier. Killing, not caring, is their prescription of choice.

Thankfully, not everyone is duped by Dr. Timothy Quill or those who purport his irrational thinking. In fact, Wesley J. Smith, Esq. sorts it out ethically, writing:

Quill is deemed a hero in assisted-suicide circles. He's apparently now expanding his advocacy to include people who are not terminally ill who want to commit "rational suicide." And why not? Once we accept assisted suicide for the terminally ill, why not others who want to escape current or feared future suffering? Shouldn't they also have the right to die in the "time and manner of their own choosing"?

If that is where we are in this nation today, then Smith's prediction should sober us up quickly: "We are becoming a pro-suicide culture. I predict that in five or ten years, stories about 'rational suicide' for the elderly won't present any opposition voices at all."

I would add that it is far more serious than that. Our culture is hell-bent on killing anyone who, if he lives, may require others to make an unselfish sacrifice for the good of another. Such deadly attitudes underpin the culture of death.

So, unless we press on in our quest to establish a culture of life that welcomes every human being from the very instant when God creates him until God calls him home, killing by any name will become the acceptable response.

There is nothing rational about suicide, but then again there is nothing rational about killing the vulnerable at all, whether self-imposed or carried out by someone else. Love life, not death.