There’s a discussion going on over at Mental Nurse. I’m posting here, rather than on the Mental Nurse site, because I don’t currently have the willingness or ability to get involved in a protracted bun-fight. As part of the discussion, beakie said this:
Human beings do not exist in a vacuum. No man is an island, as someone once said (now who WAS that?) In saving someone, we also save them “for the family”. Maybe at the point they are unable to see beyond their severe depression, we are saving them primarily “for the family”. I have absolutely no problem with this as I would hope, were I in the same state, that someone would also save me “for the family”.
Well, I’m sure beakie is a nice enough person in real life, but this opinion is simply monstrous. What this means is that, in beakie’s book, it’s ok to force someone to live on and on and on in the most intense misery and suffering imaginable, simply on the grounds that if they died, their families would be upset. No, no, no, no, no.
It is immoral to justify the suffering of one individual on the grounds that it will prevent or reduce the suffering of someone else. The idea that, simply because they were conceived by the same parents (or they once underwent a quasi-legal ceremony together, or whatever the connection is), individual A has the right to insist that individual B leads a life of unrelenting misery and pain is just wrong.
Think about what this means.
It means that person A is being valued more highly than person B. The enforced continuation of person B’s suffering prevents the suffering of person A, therefore person B should be forced to suffer. Person B’s suffering is deemed to be of less concern than person A’s. Person B is deemed to matter less than person A. Person B isn’t even really a person anymore – what happens to them doesn’t matter the way what happens to person A does.
This way of thinking is – I’ll say it again – immoral.
The basic immorality is made worse by the fact that, when person B is locked up and drugged into immobility for the sake of person A, person A won’t even be around. A couple of hours every few Sundays, maybe, but other than that it’s ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Or maybe person A will say “I can’t bear to see him like this”, and will never show up again. But either way person B will continue to suffer in the interests of person A. This isn’t just immoral, it’s sick.
Beakie does try to finesse the point, when he argues that the pain and misery of person B is only temporary (‘at the point …’), but the fact of the matter is that no-one (not me, not beakie, not person A) knows whether the suffering is temporary or not. Neither do they know how intense the suffering is. Only person B knows that. Only person B can make the decision as to whether the suffering is bad enough, or permanent enough, to justify suicide, even with all the grief and upset to others that suicide will cause.
Attitudes like those of beakie terrify me. I am scared half witless by the thought that I may at some point find myself in the enforced care of someone like him. Someone who is convinced, in the absence of any knowledge of what I am going though, that it is necessary for me to keep going through it. That they – automatically, unquestionably – know what is best for me better than I do, even to the point of denying me the most basic, the most fundamental right there is.
This is why I will never be honest with any MH professional. Even under great pressure, I’m a good liar, and I’ll lie through my teeth, if I have to, to preserve my right to self-determination. It’s also why, if I ever do take the decision to kill myself – and, rest assured, it won’t be a decision I take lightly – I’ll pick a method that I know will work, and I’ll pick a place where I know I won’t be disturbed, and I’ll go off and do it, with no fuss, and no fond farewells, and no ‘crying for help’.
The right to live and the right to die are mine, and I will not surrender them to anyone. Not even a well-intentioned tinpot little god of a MH professional who thinks a few letters after their name, and the authority of an Act of Parliament on their side, means that they have the ‘duty’ to confiscate them whenever they choose.