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91-Year-Old Woman Selling Suicide Kits Online Claims First Official Fictim

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From the Daily Beast:

A shadowy online company selling suicide kits recently claimed its first confirmed victim. Winston Ross talks exclusively with the entrepreneur behind it: a grieving 91-year-old woman.

People who wish to kill themselves and who order a kit THROUGH THE FREAKIN’ MAIL to enact those wishes are not “victims.”

People who die in an automobile collision caused by a man attempting suicide, who was unable to commit suicide by other means, are victims.

People who are forced to remain alive when they want to die, often in horrible circumstances like akinetic mutism (can’t move or speak) after an unsuccessful suicide attempt, are victims. (That goes double when they have medical experiments performed on them without their consent, as happened in the case linked above. There was no ethical outcry; the study was widely touted as a breakthrough. It makes me want to vomit.)

People who want to die and commit suicide are just lucky.

I envy the fictim in this case, Nick Klonoski, a 29-year-old man with chronic pain and depression. However, his bereaved brother Zach sees things differently. He testified at a hearing:

“In a society where so many people suffer from depression and other mental-health disorders,” Zach said, “this company has found their niche in the market by peddling death. This is analogous to putting a gun-vending machine next to a depression clinic. The Gladd company, so named as to avoid suspicion in case family members happen to sign for or come across the package, made $60 off my brother’s death.”

What about the people making money off our misery – like the medical industry, which makes billions every year forcibly “treating” would-be suicides in an often horrific manner? What is wrong, exactly, with “peddling death” when death is heartily desired? None of us asked to be here.

The fact is that while people’s willingness to pay to improve people’s lives is extremely limited, their willingness to demand regulation to prevent people from taking their own lives is nearly infinite. In essence, this is an involuntary, uncompensated transfer of wealth from suicidal, miserable people, the worst off of society, to their nonsuicidal friends and relatives. It is all done under the flag of the medical model of suicide, which is treated as a religious fact rather than examined as a scientific proposition (since examined as such it is clearly erroneous).

One important piece of information here: the helium thing apparently works (here’s a video, even). I wonder how long it will take for forced life advocates to make helium illegal. Oh wait – it’s already happening.

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Written by Sister Y

April 28, 2011 at 6:27 pm

Why Don’t You Just Kill Yourself?

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On 3QuarksDaily (cool article by Tauriq Moosa btw), commenter Louise Gordon asks the question that’s on everybody’s mind: why don’t philanthropic antinatalists just kill themselves? She asks:

If you are an anti-natalist and think being alive is hell and suffering and an overwhelming bummer, why are you still alive? Is there some life instinct that’s driving you to stick around or you’re just not ready to check out yet?

I explain:

Let me explain by analogy. Two birthdays ago, my friends had a surprise party for me. I was in a very antisocial mood at the time, and it was a very unpleasant experience – but I suffered through it because I didn’t want to hurt my friends’ feelings. I didn’t just walk out and leave the party (though I feel I morally could have done, if it were bad enough for me). But mostly I wish they hadn’t had a party for me in the first place – I would have been better off if they hadn’t.

Ditto my mom giving birth to me. I wish she hadn’t, but my family and friends would be very sad if I peaced out of the party (though I still have a moral right to commit suicide).

Another problem is that killing oneself is hard. Barbiturates are tightly controlled these days. You’d be amazed how easy it is to survive a gunshot wound to the head. And then they keep you alive and do medical experiments on you without your consent. Not a pretty picture.

In more general terms, the question may be phrased as: If you have been the victim of injustice and a solution to your subjective suffering exists, why not take it? And the answer is: because the proffered solution (a) through no fault of mine, harms others whose interests I care about, and (b) through no fault of mine, will very likely put me in a situation that is worse than my current situation.

Written by Sister Y

March 16, 2011 at 7:47 pm

The Source of All My Nightmares

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Is suicide difficult? Since there is a prohibition, in our society, on the drugs that provide the only reliable, painless method for suicide, suicide is, in practice, very difficult. Suicides are left with a choice among unsatisfactory methods – to say the least. The suicide must shoot himself in the head, cut his arteries, hang himself, or worse, if he genuinely wishes to die. Failure to appreciate the difficulty of suicide has led many otherwise intelligent people to think that there is no need for “assisted suicide” (provision of drugs). The reality is that suicide is unfairly difficult, the methods available unfairly cruel.

But it gets worse. The terrifying reality is that, even if one shoots oneself in the head or hangs oneself, it is no guarantee of death. Advance directives refusing care after one’s suicide are not respected. Plenty of people attempt suicide by one of these methods and survive, with consequences in some cases more horrible than continuing to live would have been. Lying in a state of akinetic mutism while doctors perform medical experiments on one is no one’s desire, and is not an acceptable “consequence” to inflict on a suicide.

A poignantly brief article in the Baltimore Sun, “Woman wounded in apparent suicide try,” crystallizes the horror of the above dilemma:

A woman was found shot in the head in West Baltimore yesterday afternoon in an apparent suicide attempt, said police spokeswoman Nicole Monroe. The woman was found at Edgemont and Parkwood avenues about 12:51 p.m., Monroe said. The woman, whose name was not released, survived the shooting, Monroe said last night, but her condition was unavailable. [Emphasis mine.]

Written by Sister Y

March 27, 2009 at 12:09 am

She Let The Tumors Eat Her Face

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Note: Steven Ertelt respectfully commented that the original version of this piece misstated his position, and upon reflection, I agree, and have re-written this piece to hopefully come closer to his position and make my objections clearer.

Chantal Sébire committed suicide by taking black market Nembutal in March of 2008. Before that, she had achieved notoriety by (unsuccessfully) petitioning the French president to allow her physician-assisted suicide. She suffered from the disease esthesioneuroblastoma, a disease that caused tumors to deform and destroy her face.

Pro-forced-life blogger Jill Stanek includes a post by Steven Ertelt about Madame Sébire. Back in April of 2008, Ertelt said that Mme. Sébire was properly denied PAS, and that we should limit our sympathy for her, because she refused treatment and voluntarily allowed the tumors to eat her face:

Well, now come to find out she a) refused medical treatment, b) refused offers of surgery to correct the problem and lead a normal life, and c) refused both drugs and palliative care to help her deal with the pain.

Sadly, this woman appeared to have a death wish and appeared more interested in promoting the pro-euthanasia political agenda than genuinely seeking legitimate medical care. . . .

Sebire’s situation was certainly heart-wrenching and she originally deserved all the support in the world, but these new revelations make it tough to consider her anything but a political opportunist. [Emphasis mine.]

A majority of people support a right to suicide for those with an incurable illness. Those with ideologies that favor forcing people to stay alive, no matter what their state, see their position threatened by this trend; indeed, Washington and Montana have recently joined Oregon in allowing so-called assisted suicide for the terminally ill. A great deal of the support for suicide rights for the incurably ill must come from people’s sympathy for the ill and dying – the empathetic response that if one were dying, or in Mme. Sébire’s condition, one would want the right to die, too. Support for a blanket right to suicide is much less common.

Ertelt wishes to challenge the empathetic response to Mme. Sébire, on the grounds that she was not really incurably ill. But I think Mme. Sébire’s case can increase ordinary, non-suicidal people’s empathetic understanding of the plight of healthy people who nonetheless suffer so severely that they wish to die. She wanted to die more than she wanted to live a normal life. Is that not enough to allow her to die?

How much would a person have to be suffering to willingly allow tumors to destroy her face, in the hopes that she could thereby achieve a peaceful death? How many people are there, right now, in this condition – healthy, but suffering so greatly that death is overpoweringly desired? Do we really want to force such people to stay alive?

Let’s say Madame Sébire really did refuse treatment for her tumors with death in mind. I have considered this horrible possibility myself, though with trepidation: if only one were to get a horrible disease, then they would have to give one Nembutal. Or one could refuse treatment and opt for palliative care, for the haze of morphine, ordinarily denied to a “healthy” person. But what if one were to get cancer and then develop a love for life and a fear of death? It is the most terrible thing.

But Madame Sébire retained her courage through Hell, showing us that it is possible, that the commitment to death is not necessarily a caprice.

No one should have to die this way. No one should have to let tumors eat her face in order to achieve a peaceful death. Peaceful death should be available to all those who are in such pain as to seriously desire it, whether that pain is physical or emotional.

Written by Sister Y

December 12, 2008 at 7:27 am

Victims of the Suicide Prohibition: Debbie Purdy

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There are certain situations where a right to effective, comfortable assisted suicide might actually be pro-life. Such is the case of Debbie Purdy, the British woman with multiple sclerosis who recently won the right to a hearing to clarify the law on whether her husband would be prosecuted for assisting her suicide should she need his help.

Stories on Debbie Purdy’s struggle over the years reveal that her reason for wanting a guarantee of assisted suicide is that, while she loves life and wishes to continue living until her pain becomes unbearable, by then she will no longer be capable of ending her life without assistance. She is concerned that, if she waits and requires assistance to die, her husband will be prosecuted for attempted suicide. From The Guardian in 2004:

Assisting suicides carries a maximum 14-year sentence in Britain, one of the few European countries where it is still a crime. Purdy, like her 55,000 fellow members of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, believes this is wrong. ‘The only thing that will improve the quality of my life now is a change in the law, so I don’t have to be thinking about what I’m going to have to do by myself. If that no longer becomes the biggest question in my life, then I can start thinking about overcoming the symptoms I cope with.’

[Purdy] considered going to Holland, where euthanasia for the terminally ill has been legalised. But patients need to have been registered with a Dutch doctor for two years before they qualify for medical assistance that would bring their lives to an end.

Purdy’s hopes for a law change look slim, at least for now. ‘People want to bury their heads in the sand on this issue. The other day I heard Linford Christie say “oh they could find a cure”. That’s just grabbing at straws. That’s denial.’

The prosecutor characterized Purdy’s case as “unarguable” because Britain lacks a specific policy on assisted suicide and has no obligation to produce one. Purdy has said that she is pleased to get a hearing, and is hopeful that assisted suicide will one day be legal in the UK.

A British forced life group, Care Not Killing, responds that assisted suicide should remain a criminal act:

The key issue here remains whether the law should be changed for the very small number of people who press for assisted suicide. Our view is that in order to protect others from exploitation it should not be.

In other words, sorry Debbie Purdy, but you must suffer for our values that you do not share.

Written by Sister Y

June 12, 2008 at 11:17 pm

Is Suicide Illegal?

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Aside from the question, “should a government be able to force people who wish to die to remain alive?” – that is, “should suicide be illegal?” – there is the question as to whether suicide really is illegal, in a meaningful sense. Many people who haven’t devoted much thought to the question don’t understand how a suicide prohibition might work (all charming quotations from All Philosophy):

how the hell do you plan to punish the people if they did it right they’d be FUCKEN dead!!! You can’tr do anything; even if it was illegal people, like me, would think about it and many do it anyway. It would be a waste of time and paper!

How could someone possibly be charged for killing themselves. I almost laugh seing the scenero of a trial. Whats gonna happen, they give someone who attempted suicide the death peanelty?

I don’t think it really matters, I mean if you are really serious about killing yourself, you’ll make sure you get the job done thus making the legality of it moot.

And my personal favorite, which sums the position up most beautifully:

how can they prosecute you when you’re dead?

It’s true – it’s impossible to really criminalize suicide, in the sense that if a person manages to successfully commit suicide, he or she is beyond the reach of the criminal justice system. But there are several ways, beyond a criminal penalty imposed on a successful suicide, that a genuine suicide prohibition is enforced.

First, the most reliable, painless methods for committing suicide are widely criminalized or at least restricted. These restrictions certainly function as prohibitions on suicide. If a would-be suicide cannot obtain a gun or appropriate medication, he or she is stuck either using a much more painful, much less reliable method, or, if he or she is not willing to do so (cut arteries or hang oneself, for instance), he or she is effectively prohibited from committing suicide.

Second, the act of assisting someone to commit suicide – even a competent adult who desperately wants to die – is widely criminalized. Those assisting terminally ill relatives in killing themselves are even routinely prosecuted for murder. This especially includes those with access to the best suicide methods, namely doctors.

Third, if a person attempts suicide but is discovered before he or she dies, he or she will be rushed to the hospital and treated, even against his or her will as stated in a medical advanced directive. The failure to respect the wishes of a suicide to refuse medical treatment functions as a legal prohibition. Some patients survive suicide attempts, only to live with severe brain damage or disfiguring physical injuries for the rest of their lives, especially if they suffer such severe injury that they are no longer practically capable of committing suicide. This is a risk of committing suicide under our current system.

Finally, there are penalties for committing suicide, such as the fact that life insurance policies may exclude suicide as a cause of death for which they must pay the decedent’s family a benefit. This focus on suicide as a decedent’s rational choice, which may respond to penalties, fails to square with the legal position underlying the forced resuscitation of suicide victims. Mandatory resuscitators (and those who support forced hospitalization for failed suicides) must hold the position that a suicide’s refusal of medical treatment is invalid, because he or she was necessarily mentally incompetent, and therefore unable to make rational decisions. However, the refusal of life insurance payouts to families of suicides relies on the assumption that the suicide is in rational control of his or her death, so that either it is unfair to expect the insurance company to pay, or the potential suicide will respond to the disincentive of no insurance payout in deciding whether to commit suicide. The positions are inconsistent. If suicide were really the result of mental incompetence, and the end of a sort of disease process, it would not be fair to exclude the families of suicides from life insurance benefits, any more than the families of cancer victims.

Victims of the Suicide Prohibition

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A 2007 single-patient study in the Annals of Neurology focused on a 48-year-old woman who has been kept alive for over two years in a state of akinetic mutism – she cannot move or speak. She experienced severe brain damage from a suicide attempt and has been kept alive ever since, apparently against her expressed wishes, while scientists perform experiments on her. From Medscape:

March 13, 2007 — A new study reports that the insomnia drug zolpidem (Ambien, Sanofi Aventis) temporarily improved brain function in an adult patient with akinetic mutism caused by anoxia.

The 48-year-old woman suffered akinetic mutism related to a postanoxic encephalopathy a few days after a suicide attempt by hanging.

Two years later, she was prescribed zolpidem to treat a bout of insomnia. Within 20 minutes of receiving a 10-mg dose of the drug, the subject, who had been unable to speak or walk and was fed by a gastrostomy, was able to communicate, walk, and eat without assistance. These effects lasted for up to 3 hours.

Written by Sister Y

April 29, 2008 at 4:40 am