In Belgium euthanasia has been legal since 2002.
The official Catholic Church opposes that.
Here are the details from Francis X. Rocca in The Wall Street Journal.
The Catholic Church is not alone in positioning and packaging the act of self-deliverance as not-right. In fact, in many jurisdictions in the U.S., those attempting suicide and not succeeding or even having suicidal ideation are swept off to a mandatory stay at a mental facility. After that event, stigma could attach to their lives.
In addition, those without expert knowledge of how the human body operates or just not lucky, often botch the suicide. Not only is there stigma. They might suffer life-long injuries. One Yale business school graduate, who is bipolar, jumped off a cliff. Instead of dying, he now lacks the mental capacity to re-engineer another suicide try.
What the members of the Brothers of Charity are doing is rebranding suicide as a reasonable choice.
Suicidal Not "Crazy"
The myth about the suicidal is that they are "crazy." The reality is that they may have carefully assessed their quality of life. They have concluded that, despite so many modes of treatment, their suffering has not abated. Consequently they have made the decision they had been through enough.
When British novelist Virginia Woolf knew she was headed for another psychotic breakdown she made the decision to take her own life. She wasn't willing to endure a total loss of dignity yet again. Over the decades, many of her fans assessed her choice as hers to make - and enlightened.
Family Suicide Gene
The families of Ernest Hemingway and Sylvia Plath seem to carry a "suicide gene." Members of my own family have also ended their own lives. Often the method was passive. There were one, even though with nurse's training, who ignored a breast growth the size of a golf ball. An uncle walked home drunk through a bad neighborhood in Jersey City, New Jersey. My mother stopped taking her blood pressure medication.
Such deaths can generate a traumatic experience for those left behind. But not always. I understood the kind of pain some in my family had struggled with - without relief. As a young child, I bore witness to my mother's rolling around on the floor, as if she were battling demons. The question might be: Why didn't she plan her exit sooner?
Science doesn't know enough about mental illness. Treatments available to ordinary people are often ineffective - and have humiliating side effects.
Global Conversation Needed
The media focus on the Belgium psychiatric hospital program opens a global conversation about how society's institutions, including the legal system, views suicide. That mindset might be as anachronistic as corporate ghostwriters composing drafts of articles for executive bylines on yellow legal pads.
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