Tuesday 23 August 2011

Shocking 90%

A report published today by the think tank Demos (look here) makes much of its discovery that about 10% of suicides are of people who have terminal or serious, chronic physical illnesses.

We should have great concern for people who contemplate taking their lives when in that sort of physical condition. Their reasons for taking their lives will vary from a rational conclusion that their physical difficulties mean that life doesn't feel worth living through to less rational impulses arising from depression and despair.

The law should not prevent a rational person from taking their own life but it should not in my view permit others to assist them because, for all that we can all think of a few examples where this causes hardship, there would be much greater risk to many more people if we compromised the principle of protecting life. The great majority of doctors agree even though they of course see and understand the suffering of people with serious physical problems.

But the real story of these statistics is that a shocking 90% of people who take their own lives don't have a terminal or serious, chronic physical illness. Surely in a better world it would be just a small proportion?