When society advocates painful death

Lord Falconer's Commission on Assisted Dying - moving forward or blowing in the wind?

Looking at the current news stories, three salient events highlight the talk around euthanasia: and their basic message is, society doesn’t care. It would prefer you to die badly.

Lord Falconer’s long-awaited Commission on Assisted Dying report was released a few days ago. The usual flurry of controversy. The shoring up of opinion by strident anti-euthanasia talking heads, the usual warm glow of supporters claiming it was a move in the right direction. A move in the right direction for whom?

Not the people needing assistance in dying now. Not the people for whom life has become unbearable and their illness unrelievable. Not the people who might have chosen a peaceful death with a ‘Gladd Bag’ produced by an elderly lady, since hounded by the FBI. Not for people like Lauren Gill and Jamie Chianese, who desperately ended their lives last month with horribly toxic chemicals in the back of a car. Not for those who might have received expert support and counselling if archaic attitudes didn’t prevent them from coming forward. Not those who must die alone rather than have a loved one present. Not for this organisation – which would like to become redundant if the state would look after the needs of persons rationally and reasonably wanting to draw their life to a peaceful close.

The end result is, society puts peaceful means of dying as far out of people’s reach as it can. North Sea gas, barbiturates, Gladd bags. UK law prevents loving support being given in person to some dying people at the time they most really need it. It says, “Don’t use helium, don’t use pills, and by law have a catalytic converter fitted to your car in case you were thinking of exhaust fumes . . . instead, use noxious and corrosive household chemical, dangle from the end of a rope, or throw yourself into traffic.” Because determinedly suicidal people, whether rational and terminally ill or not, will find a way to die by suicide. Society merely mandates the most accessible means. In this respect, our British society has the mentality of a torturer.

Nice try, Lord Falconer. Better luck next time.

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3 Responses to When society advocates painful death

  1. Celia says:

    I couldn’t agree more….”man’s inhumanity to man”. Thank you for your continued striving to right this wrong. You and your work are valued by so many with no voice.

  2. maureen says:

    I do agree that society is largely uncaring, or that individuals are at least quite indifferent to the suffering of others who they do not know, (although I do accept that remarkable acts of altruism do occasionally occur).
    Lauren was only 23, and Jamie 31. I do not know how they met, (neither do their families), nor why they wanted to die, nor even if their respective reasons would appear ‘rational’, although they apparently thought so. Would you or I have tried to reason with either of them prior to this action? Jonathan Glover would have, on the basis that such a young person could have had time to reconsider, (even if this did lead to a successful subsequent suicide).
    The use of toxic household chemicals for inhalation is, I wholeheartedly agree, a horrific way to go. Why did neither of them try to open the unlocked car doors to escape the noxious gas? Why did each need the other to be there? Can it be possibly too hard to say ‘I want out’ due to the psychological strength of the pact? Or, is the inner pain so bad that the noxious gas is less so? If so, somebody should do something to ease the pain, if at all possible.
    I think that all such questions have to be asked, if there is ever going to be a rational discussion within society on such matters. Another question concerns the Gladd bags. Was the elderly lady, unfairly hounded by the FBI, the only person possessed with the wherewithal, skill and knowledge to be able to make these? If so, I can see why the FBI took an ‘interest’. If not, such an ‘interest’ did not destroy the bags.

  3. Marlene George says:

    One of the most marvellous, exactly on TOPIC articles I have ever read.
    I am one of those desperate people who at one time had planned with my husband to merely enter the garage and on with the engine and that would be the end of it. However, with the installation of converters that was no longer possible and we were told by a mechanic that it could not be removed. So here I remain, alone, in a sea of sadness without my life’s companion waiting for the alternative – subway or 12 storey high building.

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