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According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), 6,122 people committed suicide in England in 2014. Male suicide was three times higher than that of female suicide. The highest suicide rate in 2014 was among males aged between 45 – 59. Fast forward nearly nine years later? 5,219 suicides were registered in England in 2021 (307 more than the previous year however). Whilst the suicide rate has fluctuated over nearly ten years, by comparison there has been a decrease of suicide, of 903 between 2014 – 2021. Men still account for the highest suicide rate, between the ages of 50 – 54. In Wales, 347 suicides were registered in 2021.

Life is for living

The phenomenon of suicide is not ‘new’. What has changed however, is the way with which it is framed. Among history’s first recording of suicide was that of Pyramus and Thisbe in Persia, they were lovers who died around 2000BC. Pyramus thought his love (Thisbe) had been killed by a lion so stabbed himself. Thisbe returned to her love (Pyramus), found he had committed suicide and so committed suicide by stabbing.

Social, political, economic, religious, cultural, and psychological factors remain the main recorded reasoning behind why people commit suicide. Yet, instinctively, life itself persists on survival. It is not natural then, for people to seek death. People have overcome the most inhumane atrocities inflicted upon them, have begged to have their lives saved despite loss of limbs and disfigurement, and have crawled to safety under the deadliest of circumstances to survive. Life wants to live.

Suicide and legislation

Suicide in England and Wales was a crime up until 1961- before the Suicide Act 1961. Those that tried and failed to commit suicide faced (and some served) prison sentences. Those that succeeded; their families faced prosecution. Is the criminalisation of suicide an effective deterrent of suicide? According to the British Medical Journal citing a study to assess whether laws and penalising suicide had suicide deterrent effects “Criminalisation of suicide and suicide rates: an ecological study of 171 countries in the world”, found that in fact, suicide rates in regions where it was criminalised had a higher rate of suicide. Criminalisation of suicide is not the answer. Whilst suicide has been decriminalized, assisted suicide, however, is illegal in the UK.

The current trend

People suffering emotional and/or psychological disturbance are at their most vulnerable. Unfortunately, whilst variations in efforts to help people overcome their belief that they are “not okay” – such as therapy and counselling, what is not widely available are the facts about emotional and psychological disturbance. The trend setting statement “It’s okay not to be okay” reinforces the idea that people are experiencing emotional or psychological disturbance and that in so experiencing these disturbances, they are “Not okay

Suffering emotional and/or psychological disturbance is HUMAN. It is unavoidable in tragic circumstances such as individuals having suffered abuse, and those people who have suffered conditions not fit for human ‘consumption’. Every single human being at many stages in their lives will experience emotional and psychological disturbance. This does not mean they are “not okay”. It means they are perfectly imperfect beings. We absolutely do have the power to disengage from the noise in our heads; with some training and understanding about the nature of the mind. You are not your mind. Thoughts and feelings ebb and flow. They are, like everything else, IMPERMANENT.

Society spends great effort on physical wellbeing, fine-cut physiques, beauty treatments and trinkets but how many ‘training establishments/retreats’ do you know of – that focuses on training the mind? How many times as a child (and many as adults) can one gets lost in their own unreality/fantasy? We have all heard about mindfulness, (Eastern and Asian techniques aimed at managing the mind) this article is not going to delve in the beauty of the mind or techniques about how people can take control of their minds. Nevertheless, there are several self-help forums and books I will impart knowledge of at the end of this article.

If one reads about exercise techniques, is this enough to sculpt the ‘perfect’ body? Similarly, if one acquires knowledge about how to manage the mind, will this simply be enough – without action? The mind, like the body, experiences atrophy. It is possible to learn and apply your knowledge to build a healthy, strong, and resilient mindset.

Human Rights violation

In September of 2021, the BMA members disappointingly voted to adopt a neutral stance on assisted dying. 49% of members were in favour. The ethical argument on assisted suicide/euthanasia rages on and the argument for or against is largely dressed around two flavours. 1: Trend. 2: Exploitation. In Europe, Euthanasia is legal in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, and Spain. Assisted suicide where someone is given the means to end their own life is legal in Switzerland. In New Zealand, terminally ill adults will be able to ‘benefit’ from legally assisted dying. Other countries supporting suicide in some form include Columbia and Canada.

In October, we heard of the tragic decision a young lady had taken – to end her life by euthanasia in Belgium. Shanti De Corte survived the Brussels Airport Bombing attack by ISIS in 2016. She was 17 years old at the time. She had since struggled with depression, panic attacks and PTSD, and had twice attempted suicide. She made the decision in May this year, aged just a tender 23 years old – to be euthanized. Shanti was at her most vulnerable. She was assessed by two psychiatrists who agreed with her request for euthanasia. A serious violation of human rights by doctors who are trained to save lives – not take them away. Shanti was not fully informed. She did not get the chance to make a fully informed decision based on therapies she had not heard of – that were not offered to her.

The dark side of social media meant Shanti could indulge in her spiralling wish for death and so had reached out to ‘Dignity with/and Dying’. There is no ‘trend’ in death. According to Dignity In Dying, one in every eight British persons travel to Dignitas in Switzerland for physician-assisted dying.

The Sarco Suicide Pod

Dr Philip Nitschke capitalises on the new ‘death trend’. He invents the Pod of Death. The 3-D printed pod is ‘showcased’ at museums and exhibitions, and at funerals. Exploitation of human emotion under the disguise of ‘helping’ people. If people were in their right frame of mind, they would certainly not seek death. How then are they able to provide an informed ‘choice’? Therefore, by accepting a person suffering an emotional/psychological episode to be euthanised is nothing short of murder.

The pod of death can be taken anywhere and is equipped with two buttons. One to release nitrogen into the pod, suffocating its occupant, and a panic button should the occupant change their mind.

It is marketed like a Botox treatment “coming soon to an assisted-suicide clinic near you”. The pod, according to some media outlets, has been accepted as an additional suicide tool in Switzerland. The pod can be styled to double up as a coffin. Whilst Sarco states the pods are not for sale, who is funding their construction – costing seventeen thousand euros in its basic form to produce? Will they charge for the doubling up of death machine and coffin? If it were not about the exploitation of vulnerable individuals, why ‘customise’ the unit beyond that which it was intended for?

Assisted suicide is a serious violation of human rights. It is the exploitation of the vulnerable, a money spinner in disguise, and an insult to those people who are terminally ill/dying who would give anything at a chance of survival.

Help

Papyrus – The prevention of young suicide

Grass Roots – Suicide prevention

Mindfulness – Simple NHS explanation

Books – Eckhart Tolle

Books – Mindfulness

Book – Inner Engineering – Sadhguru

Book – Limitless – Jim Kwick

Kooth – Mental Health and Wellbeing Online Community

NHS – Mental Health Services

Euthanasia: A Serious Human Rights Violation