By Liz Cowen Furman:
Does a terminal illness have you considering assisted suicide?
If you have a terminal illness, feelings of hopelessness may lead you to depression. You may even think ending it all would be better for everyone. But research proves otherwise. Also, you will see in the video at the end of this article, God can make your final days precious and powerful.
The dying process is just as valuable as the time spent actively alive, according to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. She had worked with thousands of dying patients for over twenty years when she said:
“Lots of my dying patients say they grow in bounds and leaps, and finish all the unfinished business. But assisting a suicide is cheating them of these lessons, like taking a student out of school before final exams. That’s not love, it’s projecting your own unfinished business.”
Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross outlined the five stages of the dying process — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Since that time, Dr. Kubler-Ross has worked with thousands of dying patients and their families to help them deal with the dying process. In a recent interview, she indicated that her experience tells her that suicide is wrong for patients with terminal illness, as quoted in the article Why We Shouldn’t Legalize Assisting Suicide (Balch and O’Bannon).
A study of terminally ill patients published in The American Journal of Psychiatry in 1986 confirmed that most terminal patients seek suicide not because they are ill, but because they are depressed. (See: Why assisted suicide should not be legalized. )
If research shows that a terminally ill person wants to commit suicide because they are depressed, it seems the logical course of action would be to treat the depression rather than assist them in killing themselves.
Suicidologist Dr. David C. Clark emphasized that depressive episodes in the seriously ill “are no less responsive to medication” than depression in others. Additionally, psychologist Joseph Richman, former President of the American Association of Suicidology, confirmed, “[E]ffective psychotherapeutic treatment is possible with the terminally ill. Indeed, the suicide rate in persons with terminal illness is only between 2% and 4%.”
Competent and compassionate counseling, coupled with appropriate medical and psychological care, are the caring and appropriate responses to people with terminal illness expressing a wish to die.
The fact that so few, once rescued and treated, ever actually go on to commit suicide lends credence to the theory that most individuals attempting suicide are ambivalent, temporarily depressed, and suffering from treatable disorders. In one American study, less than 4% of 886 suicide attempters actually went on to kill themselves in the 5 years following their initial attempt, according to Balch and O’Bannon.
The depression is real, and the feelings of wanting to end it feel real, but what it will do to those left behind?
Statistics show that the incidences of suicide among family members of those who commit suicide are much higher, especially in their children.
Even if they do not commit suicide, they will forever wonder if they could have done something to help, if it is their fault. So the plan of committing suicide to not be a burden on someone will make you into a burden forever.
There is One who has promised to see us through the tough times. He promised to never leave or forsake us. He has the power to keep His promises. Jesus Christ loves us so fiercely that He died so we could spend eternity with Him. If you have never met Jesus let me introduce you to Him. He is the only one who can help carry the burden of a terminal diagnosis.
Jesus promised to never leave or forsake us. See Joshua 1:5. Even in times of terminal illness, He will be there to see us through if we will ask Him. This side of heaven there will be troubles, I am clinging to the One who can give me the strength to finish well and hoping you will too.
If you would like to know more about the love He has for you click here: GodTest.com.
I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord. Psalm 40:1-3
If you are in a suicide crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
See this video with a beautiful song, Until I See You Face to Face, from Dennis Jernigan, which reveals how God can use you and bless you, no matter how much time you have left on this earth. (©2009 Shepherds Heart Music/Dennis Jernigan) You can find Dennis on Twitter as @dennisjernigan.