Should People with “Intractable” Mental Illness be Able to End Their Own Life?

I’m not one for Twitter wars. However, mental health columnist Andre Picard tweeted an article about assisted suicide for people with “intractable” mental illnesses. You can read the article for yourself, but I had a few things I wanted to say about this.

First, I think advocating for assisted suicide in general, including for people with mental illness, entirely gives up on finding proper cures and treatments. One of the goals, we might think, of medical research is to find treatments and cures. The goal is not to give up because something is currently deemed “intractable.”

Second, I can think of very few cases in which a person meets the competency requirements, has an intractable mental illness, and chooses to die. In other words, most people, when competent and sane, want to live. It would be exceedingly rare to find people in reality who meet all the requirements. Why make it an issue, then? If a minuscule number of people meet the requirements and want to die, why give the issue much traction at all? Why write Op-Eds about it?

There are many people with mental illness who struggle with suicidal ideation as it is. Why feed that? The goal is to get these people better, not end their lives.

In the end, I do not support assisted suicide for people with intractable mental illness. I support finding treatments and cures.

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