Just before I left last week I read over at Chris Byrne’s that blogger Rob Smith was going to kill himself. Chris quotes a fellow named Livey whom he disagrees with, but in my experience Livey’s approach is absolutely the correct one when dealing with someone who is talking about suicide:
What people are failing to realize is that Rob does not have a terminal illness. His only illness is depression and alcoholism. Those illnesses prevent him from being of “sound mind.”
If a person has a terminal medical condition, I’m all for the right to die. Hell I’ve been involved in more than a few. I do Home Health Care and Hospice.
If he was truly wishing to die, he would not have told everyone he was drinking himself to death. That is a cry for help. I understand that people don’t understand depression.
Even people who are not of sound mind can seem like it. Alcoholics are not of sound mind. Neither are people suffering from depression.
All I asked is for his friends and family to get him to a doctor, find out what is wrong with him and if he is dying, than so be it. But drinking yourself to death just because you don’t want to live anymore is just wrong.
That was the minority opinion, however. Most people at Chris’s thought you should respect suicidal people’s right to die, be they of sound mind or not. I found that very disturbing. It’s one thing for a person of sound mind to discontinue treatment of a terminal illness. It’s another for a guy who’s depressed and drunk to kill himself because he’s got a failed marriage under his belt and bills to pay. You can support the former and still think the latter is a tragically stupid waste of human life.
Because of the current high-minded attitude towards the right to die, it’s possible to imagine a world where we need reverse living wills to remind people we still want to live, so here’s mine: if I ever start talking about committing suicide, or if I start acting kooky and talking cryptically about death, I’d appreciate it if my friends extended a helping hand. Make sure everything’s OK. Talk to my wife. Maybe encourage me to see a doctor and get treated for depression. If my underlying problem is drug or alcohol abuse, stage an intervention to strong-arm me into drying out. Don’t worry about committing some high-minded violation of my right to die. I’ll get over any offense, but I won’t get over killing myself.
I see today that Rob changed his mind and is checking himself into a clinic to dry out. Glad to hear it. Most people who talk about dying don’t want to die. They just don’t know what else to do. If someone you know talks about suicide, you can probably talk them into getting help that will save their life.