Minette Marrin—the Taboo against suicide or assisted suicide seems incomprehensible

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For many old people — long before they become mortally ill — that prolonged dwindling is a worsening nightmare: a time of maltreatment in geriatric wards, lying on their bedsores in urine and excrement, of dependence on indifferent foreign minders in expensive care homes, a period of painful confusion, feeling ignored, unwanted and lonely. In a less rich society, such things will become more common.

Given all this, the taboo against suicide or assisted suicide seems incomprehensible. Religious people may think it wrong, although I have never quite understood why. It seems odd to me that they are not eager to meet their maker as soon as possible, if heaven is so devoutly to be desired. Perhaps it is different if one’s religion teaches that one might after death come back as a toad.

But, believers apart, for everyone else there is no philosophical reason against suicide that I can see. The usual slippery slope argument is purely emotional: we are all already on the slippery slope as far as any moral decisions go and constantly have to choose between two evils.

Read it all from the Sunday [London] Times (subscription required).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLife EthicsPsychologySuicideReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

11 Comments
Posted April 17, 2011 at 6:04 pm

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The URL for this article is http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/article/36018/



1. deaconjohn25 wrote:

I don’t know who this person is nor do I intend to be seduced into signing up for the Times. So I will comment on the words available on this site.
  Most of the reasons giving here for promoting suicide for the elderly are a damning indictment of our society’s care of sick elderly.
And now we will solve that problem—and save oodles of tax money—and get our hands on granny’s bank accounts and home quicker—by pressuring the elderly to hurry up and get out of this life. Granny you’re a bother!  You’re a responsibility we want to be liberated from. You’re keeping us from enjoying the good life with the good health we have been blessed with. You’ve reached the level of road kill so kindly drag yourself off the road and stop being a roadblock that interferes with our fun and games.
  And there is a reason why it is truly religious people who are against policies that promote death and for policies that protect life
Love of life is a continuum—from this life to the next. It is not surprising that most promoters of various forms of suicide (and abortion) are usually, at heart, atheist.
  They won’t admit it but they do not hope for a life after death because they hate this life and want other people to join them in
hating life.
  Hating life to the point of loving death as the solution to all difficult issues such as unwanted pregnancies or full beadpans.
That so many in our post-Christian age do not see this is merely an indictment of the coming age where human beings will considered as just so much materialist garbage fit only for the garbage removers as soon as possible..

April 17, 7:57 pm | [comment link]
2. driver8 wrote:

Ridiculous, thoughtless, ignorant, imaginatively impoverished…but apart from that it was all good stuff.

April 17, 9:04 pm | [comment link]
3. Archer_of_the_Forest wrote:

But, believers apart, for everyone else there is no philosophical reason against suicide that I can see.

The sound you are hearing is Cicero’s facepalm.

April 17, 9:47 pm | [comment link]
4. pilgrim kate wrote:

“Religious people may think it wrong, although I have never quite understood why.”

Perhaps it shouldn’t surpise me, but it always does that commentators are happy to weigh in on things they are too lazy to study to find out why the position they oppose is supported by others.

And that goes for lazy editors, too.  Why publish something that proclaims its ignorance?  Of course, in our society, there is no stigma attached to being ignorantly critical of Christianity.

pilgrim kate

April 18, 12:25 am | [comment link]
5. Fradgan wrote:

Who will need suicide when we finally have Death Panels?  Soylent Green, anyone?

April 18, 1:33 am | [comment link]
6. kmh1 wrote:

Anyone with a soupcon of knowledge is aware that suicide was often a duty in pagan Rome. The wheel turns.

April 18, 2:09 am | [comment link]
7. Larry Morse wrote:

As it used to be for the Innuit and sometimes was in Japan.
When youj became a burden to the community, you simply walked off into the cold. Question: For a christian, is there a difference between commiting suicide for your own relief and committing suicide to benefit others?  Larry

April 18, 1:15 pm | [comment link]
8. Billy wrote:

Is not the obvious point that our lives nor the life of anyone else is ours to take - they all belong to the one who gave it to us - God.  So, if one doesn’t believe in God, then why not urging suicide for those with large medical costs for the overall economic good of society and to relieve their own suffering?  Without God, we have those who can’t keep up being left behind to die for the overall good of the community.

April 18, 1:36 pm | [comment link]
9. deaconjohn25 wrote:

The great tragedy and danger is the very concept that suicide can somehow produce an overall good for the community instead of leading us into a house of horrors that only a Freddy Krueger could love.

April 18, 6:29 pm | [comment link]
10. Larry Morse wrote:

But that’s not true Deaconjohn. For those with incurable diseases who do not have the money to pay for their constant care, and who cannot bear to have a wife who has no life of her own because she is a 24 hour caregiver, suicide makes perfect sense. Why leave one’s wife bankrupt when it is not necessary?For the Inuit, to walk into the cold is to remove a mouth that must be fed but which cannot contribute to the community good. Here suicide makes perfect sense - even an absolute responsibility. For a Christian, this avenue is closed. For others, it is sometimes logical, sometimes imperative.
Larry

April 18, 10:37 pm | [comment link]
11. deaconjohn25 wrote:

You can put all the frosting on the cake you want, but promoting death or encouraging death, or rationalizing death as a solution to problems is fetid evil. And when it becomes the answer to ANY social problem it spreads, it pollutes, it degrades, it corrupts society and culture.
  The Nazis had a phrase they used to salve their butcheries: “Life unworthy of life.” I know looking at what happened in Germany in the 1930’s and 1940’s has become almost a joke to the death merchants of abortion and suicide if you make any comparisons with today. However, it is true—-Those who refuse to learn from history will repeat it.

April 19, 4:46 pm | [comment link]


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