Dr. Kervorkian, or the “suicide doctor,” is an interesting man. There was recently a movie about him on HBO. In the movie he was played by Al Pacino, who did an excellent job. He even looked a lot like the character he was playing. The movie was based on the true story of the doctor’s struggle to stay out of prison and assist the terminally ill in taking their own life. He feels that they have every right to do this, but society denies them that right.
I’ve had two people who were close to me, one relative and a close friend, take their own lives. The relative lost his mother to cancer and although he was healthy at the time, he had just learned that he had the same type of cancer. The friend hung himself because he was having problems with drugs and his wife.
Both of these cases were tragic because I believe they took their lives unnecessarily. Cliff could have gotten help with his drug addiction and marriage counseling for him and his wife. Mike was distraught about losing his mother but he probably could have lived a few more years before the cancer got to him. He might even had gotten a cure.
On the other hand, another friend of mine, who recently died of cancer, faced the end with courage and dignity. He died peacefully at home with his friends and family present.
Most suicides are a cry for help and can be helped. But unfortunately if they take their own life, it becomes too late. For the terminally ill, however, it’s not a cry for help. Most of them have reached the point of no return and have little time left anyway. And most of them want to end their lives not out of self-pity, but rather because they can no longer stand the pain
Except for Dr. Kervorkian, assisted suicide cases are rare. According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch: “When Judge Steven H. Goldman consulted state judicial manuals for sample jury instructions in an assisted-suicide case, he found there weren’t any. It may not be surprising, since the last known case to go to trial in Missouri was 101 years ago. The defendant won – In this particular case the defendant won again.
The case involved two men who had entered into a suicide pact. One young man shot himself in the head and died, but the other man was unable to carry out his part of the bargain. He decided that he wanted to live. He was charged with involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action. He faced a possible life in prison. The jury, who acquitted the man, declined to comment.