Thursday, April 11, 2024

Young people need suicide prevention not promotion.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Mary Fahey
Mary Fahey has written a powerful op-ed that was published in the Manchester Union Leader on April 10, 2024 in response to New Hampshire assisted suicide legalization bill HB 1283.

Fahey opposes assisted suicide based on her personal experience. She writes:

At 23 years old, I have more chronic, incurable, and life-altering diseases than I can count on one hand. I am also a survivor of a suicide attempt and have dealt with strong suicidal ideation as I’ve faced daily suffering and the loss of my health as I knew it. While I have gotten the help I need to learn to live happily with my near constant illness, it has been one of the hardest tasks of my life, a task further burdened by the countless doctors I saw who knew little to nothing of my conditions or how to treat them.
Fahey states that she has found happiness, in her struggles from her friends and family in her life. Fahey continues:
This legislation fails to reinforce the value of New Hampshire citizens. Rather, assisted suicide, by its nature, creates a cruel scale of value on human lives, deeming some more worthy than others simply based on their circumstances. With assisted suicide, we are no longer stating that we should protect all lives from suicide, instead, we are saying that some lives should be exempt from that protection, that some lives are simply not worth living.
Fahey, who has survived a suicide attempt continues:

As a society, we work diligently to prevent suicide in healthy individuals, because of the knowledge that their lives have inherent and immeasurable value, and we know their death would be a tragedy. Is it our place to remove that value and promote suicide simply because someone is challenged by suffering? Doing so has devastating and far-reaching consequences, especially for New Hampshire’s young people, for whom suicide rates are already on the rise.

The supporters of this bill assert that medical aid in dying (MAID) is not actually suicide, because those who utilize it do not wish to die, and those who end their lives by suicide do wish to die, and therefore it puts no one at risk. I find this claim incredibly false. When I attempted suicide, I did not wish to die, rather, I desperately wished to live. I simply saw no alternative to the mental and physical suffering I was experiencing.
Fahey has also lost several friends to suicide. She writes:
Recently, I lost a childhood friend to suicide. He was young, with a young family. Another young woman I know of took her life last month; her obituary reads “she made a heart-breaking decision in an effort to pursue peace.” Passing HB 1283 will clearly send the message to vulnerable young people that intentionally and unnaturally ending one’s life in the face of suffering is a legitimate solution to their pain.
Fahey lives with suffering but normalizing suicide and death are not the answer. Fahey writes:
One of the greatest burdens in my personal health journey has not been the illness itself, but reconciling the unavoidable pain, discomfort, and fear with the goodness of life. I believe many young people in a similar position would say the same. I still struggle to accept this, but while I can hardly remember a day without bodily suffering, I also cannot remember a day where I have not been able to find great meaning and joy.

When the proponents of this bill state that it is not only permissible, but dignified, to take one’s life when confronting great adversity, it undermines the efforts of all of those, like myself, who have fought so hard to live in the face of grave, and often silent, suffering. It puts countless New Hampshire young people at risk by normalizing suicide as an acceptable solution to their burdens.
Fahey ends her article by urging people to contact their state Senator to oppose assisted suicide.
Contrary to the message of this bill, our suffering doesn’t define us. Our lives, however difficult, however limited, are worth living and celebrating. The Granite State needs to protect lives, not legislate ways to end them. I urge those who value every life to reach out to their state senator and ask them to vote against HB 1283.
People with disabilities need help to live not to die (Link).

No comments: