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Is Assisted Suicide the Answer to Suffering?

Updated: May 7, 2023

Written by Evi Idoghor


Euthanasia has been a recurring theme in my mind recently. And as you may know, when thoughts begin to dominate your mind your senses become alert to anything related to it. Such as when you become interested in a particular type of car and begin to see that car everywhere you go - you wonder, wasn't that car there before you became aware of it?

The first time I was introduced to the concept of Euthanasia was in the romantic movie – Me before you, where a young man had a horrific accident that left him a quadriplegic. He was at constant odds with his new normal. For someone who was the life of the party, extremely good looking, had built a successful business, one of the most eligible bachelors, it was totally understandable the turmoil that he faced.
Is Assisted Suicide the Answer to Suffering?

The first time I was introduced to the concept of Euthanasia was in the romantic movie – Me before you, where a young man had a horrific accident that left him a quadriplegic. He was at constant odds with his new normal. For someone who was the life of the party, extremely good looking, had built a successful business, one of the most eligible bachelors, it was totally understandable the turmoil that he faced.


Thus, he became difficult to live with, interact with, or communicate with. His parents had done everything that they could to help him, but eventually resorted to one last option - hiring a happy-go-lucky-girl to take care of him at home.


They believed she could be the savior he needed to break free from the mental prison he was hiding in. However, she quickly demonstrated that she was unfit for the role, as he pursued his original plan to end his life via assisted suicide which left his mother devastated.


I don't recall having any strong feelings about euthanasia or assisted suicide after seeing the film (even multiple times since its 2016 release) until two years ago when the topic began making headlines in conservative media in the United States, since Canada relaxed some of its laws regarding the practice.


What is Euthanasia?


According to a University of Missouri School of Medicine website article, the term "euthanasia" is derived from two Greek words: Eu, which means "good," and Thanatos, which means "death." “The idea is that instead of condemning someone to a slow, painful, or undignified death, euthanasia would allow the patient to experience a relatively “good death.””


Physician-assisted suicide, voluntary and involuntary euthanasia, active euthanasia, passive euthanasia, mercy killing, and other variations exist. Some countries permit both euthanasia and assisted suicide, while others such as Switzerland only permit assisted suicide.


In the film Me Before You, the young man named Will travels to Switzerland to obtain assisted suicide services that he could not obtain in his home country of the United Kingdom. It is common for people to leave their country of citizenship or residence and travel to a European country that provides Euthanasia/assisted suicide, as their laws appear to be less stringent on the subject.


Most places require the patient to be terminally ill, to be in anguish, and also to be coherent enough to request this type of service in writing. As a result, people are more likely to make the trip before their condition worsens. In some countries such as Australia, it is illegal for a medical practitioner to suggest euthanasia or assisted suicide to a patient or individual who believes they are suffering; the patient must bring it up themselves.


According to an article on theweek.co.uk, there is no requirement to be terminally ill or a voluntary waiting period in the Netherlands. In fact, it is legal to euthanize terminally ill children aged one to twelve, but their parents must consent. So, my question is: how can a physician who has sworn to protect life and bring about healing, also advocate for the option of death?


A young girl in Australia once described her grandmother's decision to die as beautiful. Even though she had no illness, her grandmother chose to end her life at the age of 90. But for fear of becoming so old that she would lose her independence, she decided there was nothing left to live for.


Euthanasia and Christianity


The problem with euthanasia like any other issue that has risen in society, stems from the constant fight for the autonomy of our lives. We want to make our own decisions; to live as we please, to make our own rules and stick to them for as long as we are permitted. Time, however has shown that we are ineffective in our endeavors from the varied chaos we see as a result of human rebellion to God.


We are not in control over when or how our lives will end because we did not create it. Job 34:14-15 says about God, “If it were his intention and he withdrew his spirit and breath, all humanity would perish together and mankind would return to the dust.” This faux resolution which euthanasia and its derivatives provide, is a perverted attempt to replace the hope God’s word offers us when we face life’s difficulties. The enemy through his ploy convinces people that if they experience any kind of suffering, then there is nothing left to live for.


While our Christian faith is not predicated on suffering, it also does not dismiss it. Because, we do not have a high priest who cannot empathize with our weaknesses. Isaiah 53:3-5 says about Jesus, “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”


Consider people who doctors had concluded that there was no more hope for them to survive their ailment. Their families however, turned to their faith in Jesus by continually asking him to intervene. And by the mercy of God the sick person survived their ordeal. I had a front-row seat to one of those stories. My former pastor's young son was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia, and his health was rapidly deteriorating. Many would describe him as skin and bones. He had lost his ability to communicate effectively, and his prognosis was bleak.


There are people in similar situations, and euthanasia is most likely being offered to them to end their child's suffering. But there is always hope in Jesus. This is not to say that everyone's story will end up like that of my pastor's son who is now six years out from being terminally ill. However, what I want you to know is that the hope which Jesus offers us is not merely earthly.


When my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and given a short time to live, I clung to, and still do, this eternal hope. She lived for a short time and was taken from us when her body could no longer withstand the harsh conditions brought on by her terminal illness. My eternal hope is that if she died in the Lord, I will be reunited with her as long as my faith in Christ remains (1Thessalonians 4:13-18).


2 Corinthians 4:17-18 says, “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather we fix our gaze on the things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”


I am not dismissing the pain and suffering of those who are afflicted with a physical or mental illness. I can't even imagine the anguish of the patients and their families - it's a difficult place to be. What I don't want people to lose sight of is Jesus' ability to heal, save, comfort, and rescue.


I was recently thinking about a painful situation I had been through and doubts began to arise in my mind. Almost immediately, I was reminded of this scripture passage - “For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease. Though its root grow old in the earth, and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put out branches like a young plant.” Job 14:7-9.


Then I thought to myself, if there's hope for a tree, there's hope for me. According to Jesus' words in Matthew 6, I'm far more valuable than the birds of the air and grasses of the field. This hope is extended by Christ to everyone who comes to him.


Assisted Suicide and other forms of suffering


There have been times when I've faced difficult circumstances, either physically or emotionally and thoughts of suicide have entered my mind. "Since this isn't working out for you, just call it quits." Of course, I don't pay attention to it, nor do I give it a second thought; however, I am aware that there are people who are horribly tormented by suicidal thoughts and begin cutting themselves and doing all sorts of things to achieve relief.


In John 10 Jesus tells his disciples that the enemy comes only to kill, steal, and destroy. But he came to give us life and life more abundantly. I believe it is safe to say that any push to end life prematurely - whether through abortion, euthanasia, or assisted suicide is not from God, the giver of life. Rather, it is from the one whose sole purpose is to kill, steal, and destroy.


Euthanasia/assisted dying cannot be regulated


There are already medical practitioners who are facing or have faced prosecution because of this issue. It will never be a simple process. The spectrum of suffering in this world is broad and cannot be streamlined - who has the right to say my own suffering is tolerable compared to someone who might be bedridden?


Who is wise enough to decide who is eligible for this service and who is not? Before we know it, people who want the procedure but have been deemed "ineligible" will file lawsuits. In Australia, a mother suffocated her mentally ill child to death. Caring for the child had taken such a toll on her emotional and mental health that she thought the only way out was to murder the child. The child's father was devastated and enraged at the same time.

If I recall correctly, she was eventually charged with manslaughter and the case went to court.


Would it have been considered manslaughter if she had access to euthanasia and chose that option? What was the difference between what she did and going to a doctor to request euthanasia if it were legal in her country?


Who profits from Assisted Suicide?


The cost of this topic came to mind as I pondered it. It has been reported that it could cost between £6500 and £10,000 to have it done in Switzerland. People, particularly those in the United Kingdom where assisted suicide or euthanasia is currently illegal have expressed their dissatisfaction with their government for not legalizing the procedure. Possibly because they believe it will be much cheaper to obtain it in their home country (especially with logistics). A UK national is said to travel to Switzerland every 8 days for assisted suicide. With such exorbitant prices this service is making someone very happy.


Conclusion


Let God be God; we've been trying to play God for far too long, and it hasn't gotten us anywhere. It is my hope that people will continue to speak out about this issue while not ignoring those who are truly suffering. As Christ followers, we should remind those around us who may be experiencing unbearable pain of the hope that is found in the giver of life.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” – Mathew 11:28

If you are not a believer, I pray that your suffering will lead you to Christ. And even if your life is cut short due to your suffering, you will be assured that as long as you are with Christ, you will enter into paradise with him just as he promised the thief on the cross. The thief said, when you enter your kingdom, remember me. "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise," Jesus responded. While your pain and suffering or the pain of a loved one may be intense, euthanasia or assisted suicide are not the answer; Jesus is.


For Further Reading


Don’t stop here; click this link to explore more on our Wisdom Weekly page.


All images are courtesy of Unsplash


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