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Suicide Is Never the Solution

24 August 2018

 
The suicide of her daughter Lucy (left) has left the whole family in "absolutely incredible mental anguish" says mum Liz de Oliveira. Image: Worcester News.

Choosing to end your own life is never the right solution. The alternative of proper care should be the hallmark of decent society.

Yesterday, Worcester News reported on a local man who says he will go to Switzerland for assisted suicide. Anthony Hayes, who has Borderline Personality Disorder and says he was abused as a child, told the website that he has contacted notorious euthanasia clinic Dignitas to see if they will accept him. 

He argues that euthanasia should be legal in the UK, arguing that his alternative is to "throw myself in front of a train, which...would be more trauma for my family."

Toll on those left behind

However, someone who has experienced it has no doubt of the anguish that suicide by any route has on family members. Liz de Oliveira, whose daughter Lucy took her own life in February last year, took to the comments section to beg Mr Hayes to reconsider.

"I am [in] unrelenting mental anguish after my 22 year old daughter killed herself last year," she wrote. "Mr Hayes may think that his life isn't worth living but he will be missed and people will suffer wondering whether they should have done more to stop him.

"The reality of suicide is that all it does is transfer the pain to someone else," she continued. "My daughter is out of her pain - which was probably temporary but myself, her brother and her nan are now all in absolutely incredible mental anguish that will last until the day we die."

And Lucy's death didn't just affect her immediate family. "Having seen the impact my daughter’s death has had on literally hundreds of people – and believe me, Mr Hayes, yours will too – there is absolutely no way I could ever put others through the hell I go through every single minute of my day," Mrs Oliveria said.

Are suicide and assisted suicide linked?

Suicide and assisted suicide or euthanasia are generally talked about as if they were completely separate, but as Mrs Oliveria's testimony shows, someone taking their own life by any means has a devastating effect on family and wider society. In addition, contrary to what some people claim, legalising assisted suicide actually increases the overall suicide rate.

As this article on elderly suicides in Singapore explains, a 2015 British study of US states that have legalised assisted suicide found that "far from reducing suicides, legalising assisted suicide is associated with a 6.3 per cent increase in the total suicide rate – including both assisted and non-assisted suicides. For the over-65 age group, the increase is 14.5 per cent."

Puts pressure on the vulnerable

Legislating for assisted suicide is also dangerous for other reasons. In an article for the Economist, which is currently publishing a range of viewpoints on assisted suicide, Dr Peter Saunders of Care not Killing says that "legalising assisted suicide and/or euthanasia is particularly dangerous because any law allowing either or both will place pressure on vulnerable people to end their lives out of fear of being a burden upon relatives, carers or a state that is short of resources." He points out: "especially vulnerable are those who are elderly, disabled, sick or mentally ill" - people like Mr Hayes, who clearly has very serious mental health problems.

Suicide is not the answer

Those who know the reality of the heartache of deliberate killing of any human being give an insight we should not overlook. As Mrs de Oliveria says, what is really needed is more discussion of mental health, so that people like Mr Hayes can get the help they need. She concludes: "I really hope that Mr Hayes changes his mind- he could do much good about speaking out about his mental health and trying to encourage others to do likewise. Really truly killing yourself is not the answer no matter how much you may convince yourself that it is."

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