By Ann Farmer
According to statistics from the Office for National Statistics, ‘[s]uicide rates are much higher among disabled people’, with nearly ‘50 men with disabilities out of every 100,000’ taking ‘their own lives’, while the figures for disabled women are 19 out of every 100,000; against this, ‘almost 16’ of every 100,000 able-bodied men and 4.5 of every 100,000 able-bodied women take their own lives. This picture emerged since for the ‘first time rates of suicide can be estimated across groups, after the ONS linked information from the 2011 census with death registration data’ (‘Suicide rates much higher among disabled people, new estimates show’, Express and Star March 6, 2023).
These are indeed shocking statistics, revealing a problem which needs to be urgently addressed, and the ONS ‘said the figures would “support suicide prevention strategies” by identifying the groups most at risk.’
And yet this ‘risk’ has already been ‘identified’ – not to help the suicidally-minded, but to help them commit suicide. While the Samaritans, a suicide prevention organisation, considers that ‘Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy’ but appears to have no policy on the issue of legalising assisted suicide, the ‘right to die’ campaign avoids the s-word, preferring the misleading euphemism ‘assisted dying’. The same campaign (Link) avoids mentioning what is happening in the US, Belgium and Holland, and most notoriously Canada, where the disabled, the sick, the poor and the old and lonely are offered not assisted living but assisted killing (Link).
Now, ‘assisted dying’ in Canada is also being extended to ‘mature minors’, aka children, and the mentally ill, although in Canada people can wait a whole year to see a psychiatrist but need only wait 90 days to be euthanised. Canada thought they could legalise ‘assisted dying’ with ‘strict safeguards’, but with over 10,000 euthanasia deaths in 2021, they have merely stepped on the same slippery slope as every jurisdiction that has gone before them - where euthanasia has gone from the unthinkable to the desirable, to the doable to can’t-do-withoutable.
Here, some of us still worry about people committing suicide, especially the most vulnerable, while others worry about them not committing suicide. We should be helping the suicidal to live, not helping them to commit suicide.
Woodford Green, Essex, UK
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