Diane Coleman, founder of the disability rights organization Not Dead Yet, writes a compelling letter to the Calgary Herald in response to a previous letter titled “Trapped Alive.” “Trapped Alive” was written in support of assisted suicide by a man with two disabled loved ones who apparently believes that they should both be dead. “Trapped Alive” is a troubling letter that infers people have no worth once they become disabled, and fuels disability bigotry. His letter emphasizes the exact reasons why it is so dangerous to the disabled community to allow assisted suicide to become legalized.
Dianne Coleman addresses this issue well. http://www.calgaryherald.com/opinion/Suicide+prevention/5753866/story.html
Re: “Trapped alive,” Letter, Nov. 21.
James G. Swanson’s letter demonstrates the profound devaluation that too many feel toward those of us with severe physical disabilities. Swanson describes his father and a friend, disabled by an accident and ALS, respectively, as “trapped” and “condemned to a life in hell.” Social messages that one is “better off dead than disabled” permeate society, including our families.
Swanson’s solution to the so-called problem of disability is assisted suicide. Like most, he hasn’t noticed the difference between suicide and assisted suicide. Apparently, he doesn’t think it matters if someone’s family views their life as devoid of quality. There’s no sign of concern that we might feel that our existence is a burden to those closest to us. The Council of Canadians with Disabilities rightly opposes assisted suicide. A society that not only agrees with a disabled person’s suicide, but guarantees that our suicide attempt results in death, is not treating us as equals. We deserve the same suicide prevention as everybody else, not a streamlined path to death.
Diane Coleman, Rochester, N.Y. Diane Coleman is the founder of the disability rights organization Not Dead Yet.