The study on which the article linked above reports found that there is a higher rate of suicide in richer neighborhoods, due to the human tendency to compare one’s own situation with that of one’s neighbors. People committing suicide in wealthy neighborhoods tend to be people at the lower end of the income scale there, who commit suicide after comparing their lives with their neighbors’ and finding them lacking.
It seems to us that this study’s conclusions that unfavorable comparisons of one’s own life to that of one’s neighbors lead to suicide might have some relevance to assisted suicide, which is more common among affluent people.
Can it be that affluence itself leads to comparisons which lead to an intolerance of anything less than the best? Are richer, better educated people more likely to demand perfection or nothing? Do they look around at their well neighbors and compare their lack of health with their neighbors’ health, then decide that the process of dying, with its attendant disabilities, as so unacceptable they’d rather not be alive at all, in the same way the study shows that affluent people, when well themselves, sometimes see a neighbor’s greater wealth as so unacceptable they’d rather not be alive? Are they committing suicide because they see themselves as poorer in health and independence than their neighbors? We don’t know, but it would seem that the general phenomenon of greater suicide risk in richer neighborhoods needs more study.
If we try to prevent suicides based on one kind of unfavorable comparison, we should surely try to prevent suicide based on another kind. To do otherwise seems irrational.
Surely legalizing assistance in suicide counters everything we know about how to prevent suicide. It’s ridiculous and dangerous.