Sunday, November 23, 2008

Assisted Suicide: What Should Be Done

In light of the recent case in Quebec of Stephan Dufour being accused of assisting his uncle Chantal Maltaise commit suicide, a greater focus whether legal or social, should be on the decision to commit suicide and to have others assist, in particular the factor of whether that person who wished to commit suicide pursued any type of counseling.

I propose that besides questioning the illegality of assisted suicide, it should be necessary before anyone is to help another in commiting suicide that they ensure that person has sought counseling. I am not advocating that the counselor they meet with attempt to persuade them not to commit suicide, as there are multiple reasons for why someone should be able to make that final act. And of course there would be extenuating circumstances such if the person in question was limited in capacity to react with a counselor and in those situations there would have to some alternative.

In the majority of cases however counseling should offer the individual the opportunity for discussion and clarification of the issues and motivations behind their decision. And in this, in making that ultimate decision, different perspectives would be garnered and the right choice, the most informed choice would be made, whether to commit suicide and perhaps have help, or not to.

Currently in Canada assisting someone in committing suicide is illegal. Since the 1990s our courts have been more than lenient in punishing those that helped, but whether you agree or not with assisted suicide, there should not be any disagreement with the idea that there is some responsibility among the individuals to ensure some avenue of counseling is first pursued before suicide is committed.

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