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  1. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    Assisted Suicide?

    Discussion in 'Debate Room' started by Lewdog, Nov 10, 2013.

    It's been awhile since Dr. Jack Kevorkian was in the news, but I still wonder about this subject quite often. What are people's views of assisted suicide? What would be the cases that you think it should be legal, if at all?

    I think there are some good things that could come from it, if society could get by the idea that we are mortal, we aren't going to live forever, so it should be about the quality of life and not the quantity. If people were allowed to do it under supervised boundaries think what that could open the medical world and others up to! Do you think the transplant lists would still be so long? All of those people that are sick and going to die, would be able to donate their organs instead of them going to waste when the person wants to die anyway.

    Thoughts?
     
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  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    People at the end of life should have a right to end their suffering. Defining "at the end of life" is not an easy thing to do. I've seen more than a few people taken off a ventilator to die and the usual protocol is morphine sulphate IV, 'for comfort' but we (as in the nursing and medical staff) know it also suppresses residual breathing.

    When my father was dying, he asked me, "is this what it's like". I was taken aback when I answered, no, he didn't appear to be at death's door, and he unexpectedly expressed his frustration. I didn't know until then that he was asking for it to be over with. I told my mom to give him all the pain meds he wanted, and a few other things. He died within the week. I never asked her how many pain pills she gave him. It wasn't a question anyone needed an answer to.

    Public TV had an excellent POV or Independent Lens (don't recall which) program on people with terminal cancer going to another country to have control over that end of life decision. Shame on those who would deny people their own choices when they are dying.

    Kevorkian, on the other hand, helped people die who were not terminally ill. I don't think he considered mental illness is treatable, so he lost my support when he went too far.
     
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  3. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    Mental illness can be a touchy subject. It's not really 'treatable' in my opinion, but in some instances it can be 'managed.' The thing is, once again, if it is about the quality of life, mental illness can torture people for years, and to some, eventually to a point where they commit suicide...alone...painfully. Why put people through that, but yet make it easy for a person with cancer?
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    'Managed' is 'treatment' in lots of cases. Not sure why you think it isn't. A diabetic, for example, is managed. HIV and most breast cancer is 'managed' these days rather than being fatal.

    If someone has intractable depression that's unusual.
     
  5. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    Why? Because the people with the mental illness has a likely chance of going off their medication and missing treatment unless they have someone helping them, and that isn't always available. Have you looked at the percentages of people in prison with mental illness? There are more illnesses than just depression. Why is it that when you ask experts if there is a cure for sex offenders they say no, but you think that management is treatment? Sex offenders have a mental illness. The largest problem with mental illness and its perception today by society, is that people so often fake it. What that does is make it harder on those that actually suffer from the problem.
     
  6. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    Being one of those 'mentally ill' people, for my own safety, I'm not going to hang around here too long. It's not good for my health.

    But, before I go, and since this is a writers' site, I thought the words of one of the world's most popular authors who has a personal stake in assisted suicide might be worth considering.

    This is Terry's speech from the 34th Richard Dimbleby Lecture from the Royal College of Physicians in London. Or more correctly, Tony Robinson reads his words on his behalf.

     
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  7. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    I'm 'mentally ill' as well, but I can't see how it is okay for those to speak for the terminally ill people that have a physical ailment to say they should be able to choose their own fate, but those with mental illnesses should be told they they HAVE to live and keep suffering.
     
  8. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    I understand entirely where you are coming from, it's just something I choose not to dwell on. One snowball can start an avalanche.
     
  9. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Having worked in palliative care before, in countries that haven't legalised euthanasia, and seeing people sit and wait for death, sometimes in incredible pain that not even complete sedation could relieve, I believe it is cruelty of highest order to deny people in terminal stages the right to end their suffering with dignity. However, even though 'hastening death' is not allowed, treating pain and patient comfort take utmost priority and if the pain relief results in death, that is acceptable as long as it's clinically appropriate, dosage wise (ie. not giving a person a massive dose of opiates unless that dose was built up over time and shown to be the smallest dose that resulted in symptom control). I visited a children's hospice several times, and that is the most incredible and tragic place, words cannot describe the emotions that go through you. Those kids are suffering too, but are the last ones to be awarded the right to die on their own terms. As you can imagine, child euthanasia is even more sensitive topic then adult euthanasia.

    Having worked in psychiatry, I have to say in all honesty I never had a patient who was suffering from their mental illness so much that they wanted to die when their symptoms were medicated adequately. To an outsider, a life of a chronic bipolar or schizophrenic person might seem like hell, but patient experience is far from it, and they do enjoy life when they are well, even the most resistant cases. When they are unwell, suicide can and does occur, but it is always due to relapse and symptoms which aren't adequately treated. What does torture people are circumstances, incredible poverty, loss of a loved one either through breakup or death, losing their children to the system, inadequate access to medical care and other mostly preventable things which society should really address more adequately. Medicine can't cure society's ills and at least in psychiatry, that's half the problem. However, logic dictates that there must be cases of people really suffering so much that they can't get relief even with best medical care. The key is ensuring that they had the benefit of best treatments we have and if there really is nothing anyone can do to help them, they shouldn't be denied the right to end intractable suffering on their own terms just because of the nature of their illness.

    However, there are these unique cases around you hear about, and it's difficult deciding how to feel about them. Just last year, twins who were deaf from birth, in their 40, were granted the right to euthanasia. They were going progressively blind, and soon they'd be facing a life without hearing or sight. They made their case to courts and won. Who am to judge? But it doesn't feel right. People who make such decisions, both patients as well as medical and legal professionals, have incredibly difficult task in front of them, but I do believe world with euthanasia (which needs to be strictly regulated, of course) is a more humane place then the world without.
     
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  10. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    It is a good idea, but we need to tighten the yoke on the doctors who prescribe it. There are so many doctors who just prescribe medicine to make a quick buck, and this will be no exception if no-one puts regulations on it.
     
  11. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    I'm in the personal rights category. It is their lives, if they want to end it, they are entitled. However, that doesn't mean we should not speak with them and see if there is a problem that is really not a problem, but in the end, it should be their right to end their lives.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2013
  12. chicagoliz
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    I don't think that people who have terminal illnesses can donate their organs, but maybe there are exceptions that I don't know about. Generally, I think anyone who wants to die should be allowed to.
     
  13. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    Might I add that IMO, it should only be limited to physical and mental illnesses? I know some crazy people, and I know that if their gf/bf broke up with them, they would be first in line for this.
     
  14. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I support it 100%. If a person wants to die, it's his or her choice. This goes for perfectly healthy people as well. If a healthy adult, for whatever reason, wants to kill himself/herself, I think he/she should have the right to do so.

    The mental illness part is tough to take into account. A person with a mental illness may not understand what this all means, and I think it's very important that the person wanting to die should be able to fully understand all the implications of assisted suicide.
     
  15. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    And here's where things get complicated. What about a healthy 16-year-old? What about a healthy 13-year-old? What about a healthy 9-year-old?
     
  16. Robert_S
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    He did state "healthy adult."
     
  17. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    Oh, I know. I'm just stating too, this is a complicated matter, and the reasons people want to kill themselves delve beyond "being an adult" anyway....
     
  18. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    Has anyone watched the movie with Will Smith called, Seven Pounds? It really fits this discussion well.

     
  19. jazzabel
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    @Duchess-Yukine-Suoh: Several countries have legalised euthanasia and assisted suicide (the terms are subtly different but the outcome is the same) and the procedures needed to keep it safe and regulated are fairly straightforward. There's no evidence that either are any more likely to be abused than any other medical procedure.

    @thirdwind: Healthy adults already have the right to kill themselves. Suicide is not a crime. As a doctor, I am not happy to be helping healthy people kill themselves. I took an oath and committed to 'first, do no harm'. Relieving of incurable suffering however, is helping, and this is where euthanasia and assisted suicide come in.

    Assessing someones competence is what doctors do all the time. Brief asessement can take as little as five minutes, more detailed one, for legal purposes, about half an hour. It's not a difficult thing to do at all, even on people who have difficulties communicating due to sensory impairment or cognitive issues (such as can be found in mental illness and dementia).
     
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  20. Robert_S
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    We are already seeing personal choices being taken away in the area of abortion, even when it is to save a life. In Ireland, a woman died because of a miscarriage because the doctors refused to render an abortion. In the US, Texas is trying to institute one of the most hardline approaches to abortion (no after 20 weeks), despite statistical proof that people who abort for contraceptives reasons do so well before 20 weeks and abortions occurring after 20 weeks is due to health reasons (fetus is malformed, etc).

    I'm very much in the personal rights category because we are losing them every year.
     
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  21. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    And this is why I am pro-choice.

    But don't you think that the underlying cause of the person committing suicide is more important than the suicide itself?
     
  22. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    My main points are that if a person really wants to die, they will find a way, so why not let them die with dignity and support?

    I wonder though how a person's insurance works in countries where euthanasia is legel. Do their family still get their life insurance? Does insurance actually help pay for the procedure?
     
  23. GingerCoffee
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    Suicide is a crime in many countries, including in the US, though some states now have exceptions. If you try and fail you can be committed and prevented from carrying it out. If you help someone, like Kevorkian, you can be convicted of a crime, like Kevorkian.

    One still has to distinguish between someone with valid reasons to end their life and someone who impulsively tries and/or succeeds in killing themselves. Surely people are not saying the nineteen year old whose girlfriend just left him should be allowed to kill himself if no one can talk him out of it?

    I've not looked up the stats but if I recall correctly most people who attempt suicide and fail are later glad they were prevented from dying. Granted that sample would be skewed by those who used non-lethal methods and may not have seriously wanted to die in the first place, but some of those people did use lethal means and clearly intended to die.

    I am not opposed to right to die laws. It seems mostly people with certain religious views who would impose them on others are adamantly against letting someone end their suffering. But it is useful to prevent suicide in people who are not otherwise in the end stage of dying or don't have some other compelling reason. Which reasons are compelling and which aren't fall on a continuum and I don't claim to hold any kind of moral authority where that line is except I know where I would draw the line.
     
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  24. Simpson17866
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    In my opinion, the people opposed to euthanasia do not understand 1) triage, 2) probability, or 3) suffering.

    1) Medical resources, be it in doses of drugs or in hours of manpower, are increasing in efficiency and availability but are still fundamentally finite. As such, the more reasonable doctors in the world have established that people who would die without treatment but would survive with treatment should get treatment before people who's life or death would not change with or without treatment.

    If my options were to live for a day without treatment vs. die for a month with treatment, and somebody else's options were to die for a month without treatment vs. live for years with treatment, then I don't think that I should be the one getting the superior treatment.

    2) Everybody always hears about the guy who won millions in the lottery; it's just so much more powerful a mental image than the millions of people who didn't. Humans didn't evolve as probabilistic mathematicians, mathematicians developed probability less than 1000 years ago compared to the multiple 1000s of years that humans had evolved with no more complicated mathematical ability than "bear = run."

    That's why casinos always have the bells, whistles, and light shows when somebody wins, because they understand that people think about the biggest possibilities, not the most common, and they want to make the least likely option seem as big as possible. People lose millions of dollars that they could've used to feed their children, but at least they get to hear the story about the guy who "beat" the odds, not truly understanding that there have to be odds for him to have beaten in the first place.

    In addition to the terminally ill patients whose deaths would be extended with "treatments," there are also critically ill patients who's lives could be saved if the same treatments were not being given to the terminal patient "just in case" the terminal patient can be one of the flashy stories of someone who "beat the odds" and turned out not to be as terminal as the trained medical professionals thought.

    3) What could the most terminal patients have possibly done that was so horrible that people feel they deserve to be sentenced to months of torture that can be prevented so easily?
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2013
  25. mammamaia
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    ...mine is that it should be a universally allowed human right, to avail oneself of same... the only reason it isn't, is due to religion being allowed to trump human rights in the US and too many other parts of the world...

    ...in any case where a legally sane person wants to take that step to end his/her own life, for their own reasons... which is why i chose oregon to settle in, when i had to return to living in the states [though i'd have rather remained an ex-pat, for the rest of my life]...

    ...when i can no longer be useful to others, regardless of the cause, it'll be time for me to cut out... thankfully, this enlightened state's law will allow me to do so in a dignified and comfortable manner...
     
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