Dying with dignity?

The Palaver Hut

It was interesting to see the YouGov poll conducted about the BBC television documentary programme, which found that 70% of people including myself thought it was ‘right to show the film’ on ‘Assisted dying’ regarding people ‘Choosing To Die’ presented by Sir Terry Pratchett last June.

It has subsequently been reported that the BBC has received a number of complaints about the documentary from the likes of ‘Care, Not Killing’, and ‘Care’ – two organisations opposed to a change in the law on assisted dying.

I think the idea of the documentary is to demonstrate why a system like Dignitas, which is successfully in practice in Switzerland to legally help people to end their own lives, should be available in this country. Showing a man going through the process, including his death, gave viewers a chance to see what was actually involved. Some people expressed on many occasions their desire to die with dignity, but in the long run were not able to achieve that goal, at least not without the help of others, of course.

If, like me, you’ve spent the best part of a decade of your life having your world rocked by uncertainty, hate and skanky misdemeanours of a certain entity against you, then coming across issues like this do weird things to your head. It is like a riot fighting an Armageddon battle within me, honestly.

The argument is, did Peter Smedley, who was terminally ill with Motor Neurone Disease die with dignity through the help of Dignitas in that BBC programme?
Well, I don’t know for sure whether or not that poor man did die with dignity with the help of Dignitas in Switzerland.

I personally haven’t experienced death, not yet. But what I could tell is that ‘death with dignity’ has multiple meanings; and because of that, conversations about dignity among patients, families, and health-care professionals often result in misunderstandings, and may enhance distress, rather than decrease it.

For many years, common medical practice meant that physicians made decisions for their patients to die or not to die. It was like the lottery really. If you think about it in those days. Consequently, doctor-patient relationships are very different now than they were just a few decades ago. It has now somewhat turned into a ‘Deal or No Deal’ kind of situation. You either make a ‘Deal’ to die and put an end to your condition or ‘Not Deal’ to die and continue to live with life’s hard-knocks, which brings about the conflicts between the medical community and those it serves, with both struggling to define their respective roles.

But as a Christian, I morally believe any form of death that is not natural is a grievous sin in the eye of God because “only God giveth and taketh life”, according to the Bible.

But what fascinates me is that there is nowhere exactly in the Bible that says killing yourself is a sin. I know killing others is a sin, but I can’t find where it says killing yourself is. At least the Bible tells us that after Judas betrayed Jesus in return for 30 pieces of silver, he hanged himself. Unfortunately, we do not know what happened to Judas afterwards, only people who have gone through that route could, if they could, come back to life to tell us if killing oneself is a sin or not.

The Holy Koran strongly condemns suicide, but the Holy Bible doesn’t clearly say that it is sinful.

The Christian church, however, has traditionally considered suicide a great moral sin. Some denominations have even refused to bury people who have committed suicide in consecrated land. But the real question remains for our politicians in this Christian nation of Great Britain, if choosing to ‘Die with Dignity’, as we now call it is morally wrong or not?

By Joseph Spencer