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Ask An Evangelical: Assisted Suicide

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What do you want to know about Evangelicalism? Submit your question here.

By Scott McIntyre

 What is Your View on Assisted Suicide?

I’ve been treated for depression and have considered suicide in the past so this question strikes closer to me than it may to others.  Based solely on factual data, I think assisted suicide is a better option to end someone’s life than non-assisted suicide.  I also have very strong reservations against the taking of a human life under almost any circumstances but I’ll explain that after unpacking the case for allowing assisted suicide.

According to Death with Dignity, seven states (California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, Washington) and the District of Columbia, have death with dignity laws, also known as physician-assisted dying.  These laws all deal with individuals who are terminally ill and require confirmation, by two physicians, of the patient’s “residency, diagnosis, prognosis, mental competence, and voluntariness of the request.”   

In a study, posted on ProCon.org, of five of the states, 4,249 prescriptions were written for PAS (physician assisted suicide) drugs between 1998 & 2017 and 66.3% of the patients used the medication to end their lives.

In my research for this article, I was surprised that more states don’t allow assisted suicide, and in light of the facts I uncovered, even more surprised that assisted suicide has not become the ‘go to’ solution for a person who was not terminally ill, especially after reading some facts about suicide in our country.

In 2017, 47,173 people took their own life in the United States.  That same year, there were an estimated 1.4 million suicide attempts and of the successful tries, 50.5% were accomplished by hand guns.  This huge number of suicidal ‘failures’ in the country must come at a huge cost.  And, in fact, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reported that the cost for suicide and self-injury in the US, was $69 billion in 2015.

I’m not a mathematician, but it seems likely we could drastically reduce the financial burden of failed suicide attempts simply by allowing people, who no long want to live, the ability to get their PAS drugs as part of their regular medical benefits.  I would hate to see that happen, but it won’t surprise me if it does, and that brings me back to my thoughts on suicide.

As an Evangelical, I believe that God has the power to make adjustments in our day to day existence as He sees fit.  In other words, nothing that happens is outside of his control.  Why He allows some things to occur is another question (want to ask an  Evangelical that one?) but if He doesn’t have the ability to dictate the results of everyday life, I don’t see how He can meet the definition of an all-powerful Being.

Based on that belief, every birth, even those caused by rape, incest, or out-of-wedlock sex, has occurred because God allowed it.  Following that line of reasoning, depression, anxiety, fear, suicidal tendencies, and all other emotional states are within His power to modify or change.  As a Christian, I believe my living is supposed to serve Him and that pretty much rules out any ‘right’ I have to decide when or how I die.  Obviously, that same rationale doesn’t apply to someone who doesn’t believe in God, but there’s a  reason to avoid suicide for them too.

There are very few ‘universal’ statements and this is not one of the rare ones, but it’s important.  Taking our life can be an act of unlove toward others.

People push back suicidal thoughts successfully, so our condition, though it may be serious, is not necessarily hopeless.  And, while exiting this life stops the pain we’re experiencing, it can multiply the ache in the loved ones we leave behind.

A daughter, whose father has killed himself, might wonder if dad didn’t like her anymore.  Mom might question where she had failed her son.  A wife could, in addition to having more responsibility thrust on her, miss helping the man she pledged to love in sickness and in health.  If you noticed the multiple female references in this paragraph it’s because, according to a report I read, white males accounted for 69.67% of suicide deaths in 2017. 

Suicide is probably not going away.  Assisted suicide will probably become more common.  Avoiding suicide and returning to a good life is possible…seek help!

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Scott McIntyre

About Scott McIntyre

Scott McIntyre is glad his parents didn’t name him Vladimir or he’d be listed last on this page. While a long time California resident, he was the Oakland Spirituality Examiner for Examiner.com from 2011-12 and about the same time began blogging on several topics. The first, teaching Christians how to lovingly share their spiritual beliefs, emphasized skills that can benefit all forms of one-to-one interaction. He also writes on marriage, travel, downsizing, humor, and the motive behind people’s words and actions. After retiring in 2016, Scott embarked on some major ‘R & R’; Relocating and Rebranding. Following in his sister’s footsteps from the early 80’s, and later in the decade, his parent’s, Scott left the Golden State to become a Washingtonian in a small town just west of Spokane County.

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