Assisted Suicide

The irony and the agony.

See More

Comments (21)

(18) Elia, May 22, 2011 2:59 AM

In all due respect, neither science nor doctors have full control over the physical state of the alleviation of pain, which in exreme and unbearable pain cases, causes the person to wish to die. I disagree that suicide may be wished as a result of loneliness, poverty, etc. My dad had terminal cancer; professional/medical treatment made him deathly sick for very many months to where the cancer turned a very happy and optimistic man into skin and bones, begging to be assisted in dying. No, doctors could not alleviate his pain, therefore his terrible suffering. The suffering was not related to his spiritual or emotional aspect. He was surrounded 24/7 by loving family who took turns looking after him after he went home to die, and always with family when in hospital. The whole family suffered his pain, as we are a close-knit family who look after each other. My nurse sister had her hands tied by law, therefore couldn't help him in his transition. I used to be against assisted suicide, now I am not. And, even if we legalize such, how are we to know that a doctor will approve it if it is against his religious beliefs. Is it right for us to hand over that important decision to others - just because they are doctors? In life we have made all other decisions for ourselves, so why relinquish this one? I think that in terminal or unbearably physical cases, such as that of my father, the person himself or herself should be the only one to make that decision. If I had been in my dad's unbearable position, I would have wanted someone to be humane and loving enough to help be ease the pain. I hope I will never be in that position, as my only son is more religious and disapproves of assisted suicide even in cases such as my dad's. I still think that God wouldn't want us to suffer miserably at the end of life. May God give us all wisdom to do the right thing.

(17) peter kraynik, May 20, 2011 3:49 PM

Were you there ?

Job 38. Can the created reason with THE CREATOR ? Question oneself as to why one questions all that is. There is nothing that is; without G-ds will. Follow the examples given in the holy writtings; our instruction manual.

(16) SusanE, May 8, 2011 2:41 PM

Assisted Suicide and Assisted Life (neither is ideal)

Many healthcare facilities support a dying patients’ life with breathing and feeding apparatus and then physicians drug the dying patient for the pain and the agony until the drugs stop the heart. My strong opinion is... there is everything wrong with that way of treating a human. -- That is insanity. It is also assisted suicide. --------------------- We can prolong most life indefinitely with machines. Heart, lung, kidney, feeding etc. That is assisted living. Stopping the machines is assisted suicide. We should be allowed to die when our bodies can no longer support life. Each ill person should be able to make those decisions themselves. Buying a suicide kit is no different than purposely overdosing on drugs or buying a gun. I don’t believe that is assisted suicide. The person does it on his own. although, it is a premeditated, planned act of suicide. --------------------------------- A film named "the Sea Inside" is a sensitive detailed look at assisted suicide. It is based on a true story. Javier Bardem starred as the victim of an accident and his life in the years that followed. I don't agree with the decision the man made, but I understand why he made the decision, and I understand why those others helped him. I would not judge to say any commited a sin.

(15) Feigele, May 3, 2011 11:42 PM

Yes, you can draw a line!

And it should be determined by professionals for each case as each case is so unique Depression can be helped if not physically or mentally sick. Being physically sick cannot. My mother spent one year in hospital with no intestins no stomach everything had been removed because of cancer and notwithstanding this fact, the doctors kept her going in spite of her will. She tried to kill herself several times but each time they kept her alive. We know now that they were conducting experiments on her but at the time couldn’t not even think about it, just hoping she would survive. Maybe it was G-d’s will, but she suffered for so long. When I think of her that way I feel guilty not having been able to help her. She was in France I was in New York with a baby, who I brought to her to see before she passed away. Now, in this instance, I support the assisted suicide, it is inhuman to see and prolong suffering of any being, human or animal. P.S.- those kits should be controlled by professionals and not sold to just anyone especially online where so many young people go

(14) Ruth Wagner, May 3, 2011 5:43 AM

assisted suicide

The question I ask myself about this is what would drive a person to make the choice to end their life? My answer in one word...suffering. Regardless of mental status, either sound or not, that person is still suffering. Is it fitting for anyone to try to stop this, or judge this? I don't know. What I do know is that regardless of how one may feel about this issue, the key here is not the suicide...it's the suffering...the cause...the catalyst of it all. We all know that medical professionals, as well as mental health programs and professionals all too often allow suffering people to slip through the cracks. We can kevetch about assisted suicide all we want, but I still contend that is a "by product" of loneliness, illness, poverty, catastrophic disease. Why not make "suffering" our concern, and not the suicide. We must find a way to relieve loneliness, painful debilitating disease. Attacking assisted suicide in any way is simply going through the horses bottom to get to his teeth. When people are secure, when they are loved, when their pain is lessened, they want to live. Please Hashem, give us the wisdom to focus on what is important, and the strength to move ahead, tackling the real problems; not missing the forest for the trees.

(13) Anonymous, May 3, 2011 5:25 AM

So much more than what is on the surface.

For the past few years I have been an emergency responder in Oregon. In the past three years I was a part of a team that responded to 15 suicides in a town with fewer than 2000 people. Not a single one of these people was in extreme physical pain. And none took advantage of Oregon's physician assisted suicide law. They all killed themselves (or tried to) the old fashioned way, poison, knife, or gun. The total number of physician assisted suicides in Oregon is very small, last year only about 60 people chose to take their own lives under this evil law. But it helps to build the climate which causes the social pathology that we experienced. It is there because of a climate of disregard for the divine and His dictates for our lives. If you will, the law is the outward expression of a sickness of spirit. The comments posted here indicating support for allowing those in "pain" to be euthanized speaks volumes about the extent this idea has permeated our culture. Our suicides or attempts? Many were people who were crying for emotional help. Several others had medical diagnosis of a severe illness, and rather than wait for a treatment plan they reacted in fear. We saved a couple of those. And they discovered that they can lead a good life with proper medical care. We saved a couple of the folks who were crying out for help as well. But we lost some as well. In the cases where we did not save the person, the devastation that suicide left behind is incredible; on the family and on the whole community. The ripples go out from the center and touch many people. Modern medicine can do wonders to relieve pain. And many of the diseases which formerly led to debilitation can be treated very effectively. But how do you treat a spirit which has lost the ability to wake each morning and Bless the creator for the wonder of life? What can I say? Read! Learn about the issue. And be ready to get involved if someone you know talks about killing themselves.

Anonymous, May 4, 2011 3:38 AM

Love your neighbor like yourself

The bottom line is being their for those in need and not allowing them to isolate themselves. Reach out, Hug, encourage.!

Anonymous, May 5, 2011 5:15 AM

Reach out--don't run away!

As an individual who was once contemplating suicide, I strongly agree that having people who care and will be at your side is strong medicine. Unfortunately, Most people run from the negativity and pain of a person in that state of mind. Many people end up isolated because others find them to unpleasant to be around.

Iris B, May 4, 2011 11:51 PM

not enough it done to relieve pain

About 25 years ago, my brother-in-law was dying from brain and lung cancer. The last few days of his life were filled with pain. Horrible pain. He cried for us to help him end his life and pain. The family begged and pleaded with the doctor to give him more pain killer. The doctor said he couldn't because it would depress his breathing too much and he would die. I ask how soon it would take for him to die if he was given additional morphine. He said about 1 day. Then I asked how much longer he expected my brother-in-law to live he did not get more pain killer. He replied 2 or 3 days. The next 2 days were just awful, for my brother-in-law, his wife, his children (young adults) his parents. It was not important that he lived another 2 days. What was important was that he final hours were pain free. The kicker of it all? He was in hospice!

(12) James, May 3, 2011 3:55 AM

Wonderful. Thank you.

(11) Anonymous, May 3, 2011 12:46 AM

We know so much more about the mind now and must respect and love those that are in such pain

The answer isn't all that easy - unfortunately whether you believe or don't believe, to-day we know so much more with regards mental illness - society has let these people down and especuially our very religious who have no understanding of the pain of schizophrenia or other psychotic illnesses - we need to learn to be non-judgemental and embrace and understand and love those that are in distress - when it gets too tough to live, we need to continue our love and respect for that person and not judge - Torah or not.

(10) Anonymous, May 2, 2011 10:37 PM

This is going to be a big collision in the next decade's battle of values

Though I take Rabbi Salomon's criteria as a given, (that life is sacred and taking life is plain wrong), getting everyone to agree with him won't bring any society to the conclusion that euthanasia is wrong. Taking his position only makes Rabbis look naive. For example, it is well-documented that over 60% of dementia caregivers for spouses die prior to the patient. The high rate is attributed to difficulties of caregiving. So patients are starting to argue that it is wrong to hurry the death of their caregiver. It is not about one's own pain nor one's own life. It is about the sacredness and preciousness of the life of a spouse they love. On another level, there are millions (billions?) who can't afford good healthcare. They die early. This includes kollel families and Orthodox Jews living on low income. People are waking up to statistics such as half of Medicare going to the last six months of life. If Medicare goes bust as predicted, then ethical, compassionate people are going to ask whether those with 6 months to live can choose their own exit to free up resources to save the young & poor. We are going to see a lot of soul-searching and value-conflict. The issues are deeply profound. As we live longer due to progress, dementia grows. A doctor can treat one dementia patient or 10 poor, healthy ones. We are headed into a world where people are going to ask if sacredness of life means a $10,000/month nursing home bed for an unconscious cancer patient or giving life to the young person in the next bed who can't afford the operation. I have many doctor friends. They admit there are never enough doctors, never were. I bet doctors with dying patients often let go, not because they don't care - they just must help others. If Rabbis lose sight of these complex issues, secular ethicists will win the next generation's hearts, not based on survival-of-the-fittest, but based on appeals to the Torah sensibilities of true compassion, sensibility and real care.

(9) David Waldman, May 2, 2011 9:03 PM

A typically shallow comment from a theologue.

My father had a stroke, and we waited to see if he would recover. After a while, while he lay in bed paralyzed, in pain, and unable to speak, the doctor and various nurses told us there had been no recovery, and there wouldn't be. They wanted my brothers and I to agree to pull out his fluid and feeding tubes. My father had always told us that he didn't want to end his life in a bed like helpless and dependent like this, so we agreed. Because he had a strong heart, he suffered and died by inches for two and one-half weeks! We suffered along with him to see a man who we loved and had once been so vital and intelligent suffer this unspeakable torture. We begged the doctor to increase the amount of morphine to end his suffering, but the doctor told us that he wouldn't, and if we touched the morphine feeder, he would have us charged with murder. We tried to relieve his suffering by begging the nurses into increasing the morphine dosage to stay ahead of the pain, but they also didn't want to be charged with murder. I asked the doctor why he couldn't be allowed to peacefully pass: Do you think he will go to a higher level of heaven to compensate him for his suffering? He argued it was illegal. Your argument reminded me of the stupidity of that terrible event. I am not religious but I am "praying" that if I am ever in that position that or am suffering from a terminal disease or from progressive Alzheimers, I will be able to end my life, and fools like you who blindly follow the teaching of other rabbis will be overridden. I would appreciate your response to my comments explaining why I should not be able to do so, but please don't give some theological answer. Since you believe in God, please also explain to me why He writes on Yom Kippur that 28,000 innocent children shall die every day of preventable causes (over a million each year) based in malnutrition.

(8) Sandra R. Heimlich, May 2, 2011 6:18 PM

I respectfully disagree.

I strongly believe that, in certain cases, suicide should be an option, but not without careful screening. For example, in the case of an extremely painful and horrific disease, I see no point in "life' if the patient has ad enough and feels there is no quality of life left, only suffering.

(7) Iris B, May 2, 2011 5:41 PM

Assisted Suicide is a blessing

I congratulate this company that offers assisted suicide kits. It is the quality of life that matters, not the number of one's days. My mother had Parkinson's disease for over 30 years. I always knew that she would end up dying from pneumonia - her own saliva being the cause of the pneumonia. The last 7 years or so were horrible for her. Often she said she wanted to commit suicide, but was physically unable to do so. Many times she told my father she wanted to die already, but he would cry, beg and plead with her to live on. The week after my father died, my mother told me that she was going to die 5 days after Father's Day (6 months into the future). She would tell me this at least twice a week when I would visit her - for months. This gave her peace and eased her discomfort a bit. The day after Father's Day, I got a call from her doctor at the nursing home. He told me that my mother had pneumonia and would probably not last more than 4 or 5 days. I was surpised, but not shocked. I told him what she had been telling me for the last 5 months. He was stunned and said that she might get her wish. Mom rallied a week after the pneumonia began. Asked what was going on with her. I told her that she almost died. She cried that she didn't. We spoke for another hour, then she lapsed again and died a few days later. If there is a God, and if such God could be effective in anything, he would have never let her get Parkinsons Disease. But there is no God and certainly impotent, if such a God exists. People should not be forced to endure the terrible. Especially when their is no reason to hope that it can get better. Not all life is precious. Life belongs to the person who is living it, no one else. Dr. Kevorkian is a hero of mine. Too bad he has been forced to recant his position of offering relief to the suffering and their families.

(6) Jeannette Zipes, May 2, 2011 4:34 PM

Assisted suicide

Agree with you 100 %

(5) Susan, May 2, 2011 4:21 PM

my Mom had a stroke in Oregon

The doctor then spent a half an hour trying to convince me not to feed her so she'll die. She lived 10 more years and gave a lot of pleasure to a lot of people. The thought of killing sick people and denying health care to them permeates the whole society there.

(4) Avraham M., May 2, 2011 3:56 PM

suffering

I've been a brittle type1 diabetic since 1970(age 10) and I suffer much! Yet at this point in my life I say I have only 3 things I must do every day.1) open my eyes,2)take my 1st breath,and THANK HaShem for the 1st 2.. My disease took my childhood, adult life,and now I struggle on disbility,yet I worked as long as I could!! Yes I've thought about ending my suffering at times, but our L-rd doesn't allow that, and I want to be burried next to my father and grandfather, if I took my own life the cemetary won't burry me there!! Every breath is precious! I sometimes wake up 15 minuyes early to hear the birds sing before I take my 1st 2 insulin shots of the day!! Faith or fear, I choose Faith.. I've taught both my children " There are 2 words Faith or fear,never show fear in any situation, to any person, not even the devil himself,,but if you always have Faith, G-d can and will get you through anything!" My son's in Special Ops. in the US ARMY, and he's told me it's saved his life atleast twice, my daughter lives by that also!! Choose Faith and Life, and Thank G-d everyday you get!! G-d Bless Israel in these times!! And may He also Bless America!! Am Yisrael Chai !!

(3) Herbert Friedman, May 2, 2011 2:51 PM

Selection of individuals

Depression is reversible,there must be strict evidence that the individual is suffering from irreversible pain, and is most likely terminal.It requires an objective outside opinion and should not be available on the "market."

(2) Ruth Housman, May 2, 2011 2:03 PM

drawing the line

You posed a lot of issues here, that actually go beyond the selling of these "suicide kits". Certainly it feels unconscionable to make it this easy for anyone, for someone on the edge, to act on impulse, in the heat of that burden of hopelessness and sadness, especially anyone at all. This means young people, this means people with bipolar illness, and sure, there's an issue of ethics here. A BIG issue. On the other hand, NO, I have to disagree about the taking of life, when it is agonizing, when it is unsupportable, when the pain is such that a person cannot if they are humane, watch another suffer. I do so totally disagree, and then, I must be going against The BOOK. I can tell you this, and that is, the majority of ethical decisions, including life and death, involve a delicate balancing of pros and cons, and that balancing is what I do deeply believe G_d is asking of us all. I believe it's the GRAY area that uses our GRAY Matter, and that what is required is that anguish, in knowing, there is no total answer here. But I do totally not believe that God condones or wishes for people to suffer in waiting for death. IN fact, one could argue that the ability to assuage pain, to help someone in such terrible straits is provided by this same God. Maybe words about suffering, about what causes suffering, and all the lines we draw around this issue, are part of a story, God wrote. Because I see, that when and how a person dies, is subject to deep and ongoing ethical considerations, and thou must not kill, as we all know, has its codicils.

(1) Steven Fox, May 2, 2011 11:07 AM

should we do everything to save a life that is going to end?

If a person's has no brain activity, but his heart is still beating away, is that still life or is he or she between our world and the next....Today medical fields make that much more complex that in the "old times".... Sucide is wrong, only the one who gave life should be the one to take life, but the defination of life is some what more complex....

 

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.


  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment
stub

Receive the Aish.com Weekly Email

Sign up to our Aish Weekly Update Jewsletter.

Our privacy policy