Cynthia Stead is a columnist for The Cape Cod Times, which, on October 25, published her article urging Massachusetts to reject Question 2, the ballot initiative for the legalization of assisted suicide (http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20121025/OPINION/210250344/-1/OPINION0306).
It turns out that Cynthia Stead is also a survivor of multiple suicide attempts, using drugs similar to those that would be prescribed if assisted suicide were legalized. Those who have died under the Oregon and Washington laws cannot tell us how it felt, but Cynthia Stead can and does. Here, in italics, is what she has to say about how suicide by prescription barbiturates feels:
I can speak from experience on this issue, as I abused my own barbiturate medication — more than once — attempting to end my life almost 40 years ago. My decision wasn’t irrational at the time. I had been classified as unemployable, suffered constant seizures and injuries because of my medical condition, and my life was desperate. I succumbed to seeking a permanent solution to what proved to be a temporary problem, as changes to the law and medicine completely changed my situation later. I persevered to swallow the dozens of pills needed and experienced the pain and sensations connected with “death with dignity.” It is not the quiet passage advertised…maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll pass out before you drown in your own aspirated vomit.
Note that this woman is living and writing now because of medical advances. She would be dead if her suicide attempts had succeeded. Suicide is irrevocable. No one knows whether a cure or life-prolonging treatment for an illness will be discovered tomorrow.
Cynthia Stead’s experience-driven conclusion:
This is a bad law, rife with unintended consequences to society and individuals. Please vote no on Question 2.