The right to die a dignified death and escape suffering

People commit suicide when they want to stop the pain more than exist another minute in their world of shit.  It is, therefore, a very sensible thing to do.  After all, when our pets are in pain, we sometimes “put them to sleep” to save them from a long suffering.  Humans are often not granted the same right for ourselves.

Our system, which is quick to produce great amounts of suffering, including homelessness, hunger, and god-awful poverty as a result of laissez-faire capitalism enriching the super-rich at any cost to the public interest, encourages citizens to stay alive for more suffering.

Officers of the Federal Reserve Bank actually can’t stand to see people getting jobs when unemployment drops to a level at which workers may ask for just compensation for their labor.  The system is rigged to keep unemployment artificially high so that workers may not be in a position to ask for a raise.  There are always millions of people desperate for a job, who will work for peanuts.  The Fed currently is raising interest rates in order to increase unemployment, which destroys the ability of millions of families to meet basic needs—a primary cause of suicide.

The USA has among the highest suicide rates for wealthy nations.  This, in spite of the fact that the system makes it very difficult to get information about how to commit suicide.

Go online and try to find out how to commit suicide.  An internet which will show you in a heartbeat how to gamble away your last dime, or the hopelessness of gaining health care for so many, won’t let you find out which pills put you to sleep so that you never again awaken.  Do an online search for how to commit suicide and you will be given advice on preventing suicide instead.

When someone famous commits suicide, it is often difficult to find out how that person died.  We do not know if they jumped off a cliff, blew their head off with a shotgun, or slit their wrists. The information is largely hidden from us by major media, including the internet.  This is to prevent people from finding out how to end their suffering.

And “The Land of the Free” has a great deal of suffering.  The USA’s dirty little secret is that, with a mere 5% of the world’s population, we consume 50% of the illegal drugs.  This despite the fact that more than 100,000 Americans die from drug overdoses annually.

This is how millions of Americans relieve their suffering.  Officially there is a “war on drugs,” but the system never does much to eliminate the problem, which probably keeps those most likely to revolt in a dazed condition from which they don’t give a damn, benefiting the establishment’s survival.

One reasons that a just system would allow suffering people an opportunity to die with dignity.  There would be a place to go, a nice room where one gets into a comfortable bed, with one’s favorite music playing as one watches a beautiful video.  A doctor walks in (no, not one of those who takes the Hippocratic oath) and smiles.  The doctor puts a bottle of pills and a glass of water (or a favorite beverage?) near you and suggests “Take just one for sleep, but don’t swallow the entire contents of the bottle or you will never again awaken.”

There would be a number of scenarios, in which one may wish to be alone, or with family or friends.

Holding people back from this is often the quasi-religion of most of the states, which allows no possibility of help arriving for those who have had enough of suffering.  The most hospital workers are allowed by law to do in most of the United States, is manage pain with pain killers, often making a zombie of one who may soon die anyhow, but may live for days, weeks, or even months in that state as a vegetable.

During this time the patient may be required to have diapers changed and be fed intravenously as their powerful sedatives deny them any semblance of normal consciousness.  This is hardly death with dignity, but they are given no other choice (except to deny the pain killers and suffer in agony for as long as it takes to die).

Things have changed a lot since Socrates was actually encouraged by the state to drink poison.  Socrates had been found guilty of refusing to recognize the gods recognized by the state.  Serious stuff (thankfully our theocratic Supreme Court has not likely read the historical account, which would probably give them ideas to wit, “worship the god the court worships, or die”).

Today, 27 of the 50 states insist on their right to kill people convicted of certain crimes, but none of these legally allows an individual to attempt to kill themselves, or for someone to help a person end their suffering forever.

I live, for example, in Virginia, which doesn’t allow me to attempt to kill myself nor allow anyone to help me kill myself, despite keeping the option to kill me should the state determine by its laws that I should die, after having been convicted of certain criminal offenses.  The hypocrisy is unfathomable.

If we are truly “The Land of the Free,” we don’t need complex laws that make it difficult for one to choose to end their lives as a way to end their suffering, as exist even in those few states which allow euthanasia.

People have a right to object to this as part of their religious beliefs, but they shouldn’t have the right to deny others the freedom to end their suffering, particularly with expert help to make it as painless as possible.

Jack Balkwill has been published from the little read Rectangle, magazine of the English Honor Society, to the (then) millions of readers USA Today and many progressive publications/web sites such as Z Magazine, In These Times, Counterpunch, This Can’t Be Happening, Intrepid Report, and Dissident Voice. He is author of “An Attack on the National Security State,” about peace activists in prison.

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