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Suicide For The Disabled

Posted by Bill on January 25, 2015 at 6:35 PM

We are living in a turbulent era. At all stages of life, choosing death is becoming a viable solution to escape various types of pain one is suffering from. This goes beyond being a solution to physical pain.

These days, people are blurring the line between suicide for themselves and advocating for vulnerable people having the right to suicide. In other words, having the right to end their “miserable” lives. So who decides?

There are several groups vying for this right – e.g. the elderly, the terminally ill, the mentally ill, etc. The debates for these groups go on. Life is not valued if it doesn’t resemble the perfect mold of what society views as “normal”. If it’s not normal, it’s not healthy. So who’s the judge of this?

Even more alarming is when someone else has the right to choose death as a solution for another person. This is the new debate for the specific group of vulnerable people that are the focus of this blog post. I’m deeply concerned about those individuals with intellectual, mental and physical disabilities whom I have supported or continue to support. Who will stand up for their right to life in the years to come?

Recently, I discovered that some doctors are now encouraging advocates and agencies that support vulnerable people to endorse the following argument. When a disabled person’s health starts to fail, their doctors/agency workers should be allowed to sign a “do not resuscitate” document for them. This assumes that people with disabilities cannot make the proper decision for themselves. It implies that, somehow, medical professionals and support workers should have the right to make the choice for them. Where does this logic come from?

I have personally seen people with all types of disabilities overcome their challenges. When we invest the time to understand their attitudes and personalities we encounter people capable of leading vital lives. Maybe their life choices don’t make sense to most of us but they make perfect sense to them. Isn’t this kind of freedom what we all want?

Today, most people with disabilities are leading active and full lives with their families, friends, and communities. They are valued and loved by their social sphere. Notably, they have a lot to offer to a broken world. How long can we afford to remain too distracted to notice their true value?

Individuals with disabilities have their own unique way of expressing happiness and joy in their lives. Taking the time to get to know and understand them reveals this. In fact, those people connected with vulnerable people express how devastated they would be if they lost them from their lives. I have seen parents being strong advocates for their children in their communities. I have fought very hard to make people aware of the value of disabled individuals. I wonder how many of them take me seriously?

I find it alarming – sad really – that society might think or believe that suicide is a better solution for vulnerable people. More specifically, taking away the right for someone making the personal choice to live with his or her disability; even when the choice is to face physical pain or the failure of one’s health. Hypothetically, would we make this choice if it was our child? Our spouse? Our parent? Our friend?

The next time a doctor encourages you to sign a form to not resuscitate another person think long and hard. I would ask them, “Do you know how much this beautiful person loves life? How valued they are to the many people they are connected with?”

Here is a video to help you think on this topic. Tim Harris, a young man living with Down syndrome is the owner of Tim’s Place. Tim says something real powerful and incredible at the end of his YouTube video, “We are a gift to the world.”

I agree.



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