Why Assisted Suicide is NOT Best for the Terminally Ill

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.

Stop the Pain: Doesn’t God Understand Physical Pain?

By Lisa Copen

God does understand how you feel when you want the pain to stop.

 

Physical pain is one of the most difficult things I believe any human being can cope with. Over seventy percent of suicides are said to have been because of physical pain.* And as far back as Biblical times, even the greatest burden God allowed Job to be given by Satan–the one that hurt the most– was boils on his skin (Job 2:7).

Many people have heard the story about how Jesus went up to the desert for forty days and fasted and prayed and Satan showed up for a bit with a few temptations (Luke 4:1-2). It is easy to start interpreting this time as some kind of endurance test; the challenge Jesus takes can sound more like someone we might see on a combined show of “The Biggest Loser” meets “The Amazing Race.”

When we cry out–literally–day after day, asking God to please stop the pain, it can be easy to question, does God really understand what long-term physical pain is like?

Look more closely at this scripture, “for forty days He was tempted by the devil.” Forty days! Satan was hanging around many hours–every day. Just a snippet of conversation is in the Bible between Satan and Jesus, but I would imagine their many words between each other could easily have filled an entire book on its own.

And yes, Jesus is God, but sitting on that mountain side He was also fully human. Verse 2 says, “He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.” Hungry, just like you or I would be.

He didn’t fast as a human being, but then make His stomach feel all full as God had the power to do. He was hungry for food, tired, I am sure His back hurt, perhaps he suffered from a sunburn, yet was freezing cold at night. His stomach was growling and He thirsty. I am sure He dealt with great physical pain and kept His eyes out for scorpions. It was likely the weakest He had ever been in His lifetime, and this is when Satan kept appearing and trying to entice Him to make Himself more comfortable.

And when the forty days was up, Satan gave up, right? Nope. “When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.” (Luke 4:13)

Physical pain is weakening. It weakens our body, our ability to process information in our brain, and it is can tarnish the sparkle in our relationship with Christ. Jesus has walked in your shoes. I know some days it doesn’t feel like it, but don’t base your reality on your feelings. Believe God truly does understand.

It can be easy to become bitter when it feels like no one understands your pain, but there is no situation, no feeling, that we will encounter that someone in the Bible has not already experienced. And God always understands.

I hope the video below, song by Phil Wickham, reminds you of just how much God does hear your pleas for relief and cares about you. Many who are suicidal have shared that this song came on the radio just when they need reminded that God still had a plan for their life.

Lisa Copen has lived with rheumatoid arthritis for nineteen years, and has found purpose in her pain by reaching out to others with chronic illness. Her organization, Rest Ministries, serves those with chronic illness or pain through daily devotionals and other programs.

* Mackenzie TB, Popkin MK: “Suicide in the medical patient.”. Intl J Psych in Med 17:3-22, 1987