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What Do I Say To That?

What Do I Say To That?As I walked through my backyard yesterday, I threw a pebble into the birdbath. The ripple effect from the splash was beautiful. The water was still before I disrupted it. It took a while before it returned to calm. Not all pebbles in our lives create a beautiful ripple effect, some create sadness and chaos. There are none so emotionally traumatizing as a friend or loved one committing suicide. The news of a person's suicide penetrates to the core of our being. It stops us cold for a moment or more. Especially if we had seen the deceased with a few days before their demise, having no knowledge about the profound emotional disturbance that imprisoned them.There are millions of religious people that believe that suicide is wrong. But in this context, the word wrong is the wrong word to use. Why? Because the word could denote an action that did not produce a desired or predicted outcome or it could indicate an action that violated some life code or larger world view that society or its Deity as adopted and put into place. Morals change from time to time and from place to place. Society by and large or its members fabricate the rules based on their collective wisdom. Morality is always extremely subjective. Mistakes made in a religious society or context are most often considered moral failure rather than a simple operational failure. This makes the mistake sinful. In some religious world views, it can be considered an action taken against God which will result in a severe punishment or agonizing suffering. In the case of suicide, some people believe that the Soul of the person who commits the act of suicide will be sent to Hell. I do not believe that happens. Most often, the person who ends their own life was living in hell on earth.Most of the people I know believe it is not okay to end one's life, regardless of their circumstance. And most of the same people believe it is not okay to assist in another person ending their life. I am not sure where I stand on this issue. There is no absoluteness to this issue. Suicide is usually a relatively quick and final action. I see people every day who are killing themselves slowly by eating sugar when they are diabetic or smoking cigarettes or drinking polluted water or breathing harmful fumes in the air. If a person commits suicide, their Soul is banished to Hell and their life insurance policy may not pay out a benefit to their survivors. But if someone develops lung cancer from smoking, that's seems to be an acceptable suicide because it took a long time for it to develop. So the slower the death process, the more moral it becomes. If we look at the issue of suicide, it reduces to a small significant issue that makes it right or wrong: the length of time it takes to die.In this case, this woman was disturbed. She was addicted to alcohol. Not just a little bit addicted, profoundly addicted. She had a recent DUI which was yet to go through the judicial process which may have resulted in the suspension of her driver's license. She was a needy person. She was single and extremely lonely. And over the years of her alcohol abuse, it was clear that she was developing memory loss and probable dementia. She had numerous incidents where the police were called to her home to help her while she was naked in the yard doing something. She was not aging gracefully, she was getting old and out of control. Some blamed the alcohol, some blamed her lifelong psychological and emotional disturbances and some believed both were the reason for her decrepitude. All are major factors that contributed to her rapid decline and ultimate death. She just decided to drink a big bottle of Vodka and maybe some Tequila to end her misery. She may have had no idea she would end up dead, maybe she just needed to quiet the voices in her mind. We will never know, we can only wonder. The ripple effects of her untimely and instant death will be deep. Her ninety-three year-old mother will be impacted the most, followed by her brother and two sisters, their wives and husbands, her nieces and nephews, cousins, friends, acquaintances and neighbors.Look around you and recognize those people who you love who are doing something to injure themselves each and every day. Some people over eat at every meal, some do not eat and starve themselves to look pretty, some drink to excess each and every night trying to drown the voices of their personal demons, some stay in toxic personal relationships that slowly kill them emotionally and physically, some use illicit drugs to self medicate and find peace in a world gone crazy, some refuse to stop polluting our air, some put chemical additives in our foods that affect the function of our immune system and some prescribe drugs to treat various diseases in which the treatment is far worse than the disease, some even give drugs to patients when they do not have a treatable disease but do it just because they can. I my world, I see people killing themselves each and every day, they are just doing it much, much slower but doing it none - the - less. None of us lead perfectly healthy lives, including myself. So why would I judge those who kill themselves harshly? If I did, I would have no friends. And the personal God people worship so devotedly would have no children to love and care for.In closing, I wish to tell you about a woman who came to our office fourteen years ago or so. She was profoundly disabled and was imprisoned in a motorized wheel chair. She had no control of her bodily functions. She had advanced MS. Her only girlfriend had just committed suicide two days prior and she was emotionally a wreck. She cried and cried. Then stopped abruptly. Gathered herself. And said she wasn't upset that her friend had died. Her girlfriend was very sick too. She was ashamed that she didn't posses the courage that her girlfriend had so that she (my patient) by herself could end her own life. After she revealed why she was crying, I sat silent in my chair wondering, "What do I say to that?"  Doc
Posted by Amanda Sanders at 9:05 AM
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