On the heels of seemingly relentless media hype over a propaganda piece circulating from the pro-assisted-suicide group Compassion and Choices (formerly the Hemlock Society), USA Today has published a story about the rise in suicides in the United States and the appalling lack of a unified effort to stop it.
We objected strongly to the exploitation by Compassion and Choices of Brittany Maynard, a young woman with a tragic diagnosis, whose plan to use Oregon’s assisted suicide law to end her own life has been featured in a slick video that promotes a romanticized version of suicide. Brittany’s tragic situation will only be compounded if her highly publicized plans contribute to a suicide contagion among young, depressed and impressionable teenagers and young adults. While Maynard says what she plans to do under Oregon Law is not “suicide,” many others who suffer from mental or other serious illnesses may not make the same distinctions she does. There has been a steady increase in the non-assisted suicide rate in Oregon since 2000 that we believe correlates to the acceptance of doctor-assisted suicide there. One might wonder why States like Oregon and Vermont have wasted so much energy embracing something that is widely viewed as a public health crisis everywhere else.
In a hopeful note, the USA Today article highlights another situation that contrasts starkly with Brittany Maynard’s. Army Capt. Justin Fitch, 32, has been working tirelessly for the past several years to help prevent others from committing suicide, after he himself nearly succumbed to depression while serving in Afghanistan seven years ago. Fitch received a terminal diagnosis of colon cancer just 2 years ago, and is said to be in his last months of life. Despite this, “Fitch consulted his wife, Samantha Wolk, and reflected on the 22 veteran suicides occurring each day. He chose to devote his remaining time to prevent others from committing suicide. ‘I’ve always wanted to focus on trying to leave the world a better place,’ he says.”
Read the entire article here: http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/longform/news/nation/2014/10/09/suicide-mental-health-prevention-research/15276353/