Youth-anasia? Robin Kim

"I'm going to Switzerland." Said Gill Pharoah, a retired nurse and wife.

Most people would be in awe over her glorious statement: An excursion to a beautiful European country? Don't mind if I do! However, within her own country of Britain, the four, seemingly harmless words, have turned into a chilling euphemism for suicide.

After 75 years of healthy living, Gill sought out to take advantage of Switzerland's ambiguous euthanasia laws, instead of its snow capped mountains and vacation areas.

Despite Gill's disturbed intentions for travel, one could classify her as a tourist; more specifically, a suicide tourist, someone who travels solely based on seeking physician-assisted suicide (PAC).

(The Telegraph) Gill Pharoah, 75, before receiving euthanasia

Switzerland's euthanasia clinics have been an ideal distributor of lethal injection, due to it's low amounts of government involvement in controversies such as these. Government regulations (or the lack of) have opened up a new and frightening question to the moral integrity of euthanasia: Should healthy and able bodied individuals be able to cut their life short with professional guidance?

The answer can be found in the rising number of suicide tourism, an indication of people exploiting countries where euthanasia is legalized.

Foreign presences, with the intention of receiving euthanasia, have nearly doubled in the last four years, and the number continues to rise. Around the globe, a shocking 1/3 of all euthanized patients are suicide tourists, seeking to end their life in an enabling country. Within this 1/3 (keep in mind, 47% of euthanasia cases go unreported), the number of people treated for mental illness, such as depression, has grown by a rate of 126%. The statistics are clear; vulnerable people have fallen victim to severely flawed laws, and have found a way to take advantage of the initial purpose of PAS, to end irrepressible pain and suffering.

Let it be known: the complexity of this practice boils down to individual interpretations of morality. My argument is not against euthanasia, for I have witnessed the physical and psychological suffering of a terminal breast cancer patient, my aunt. Before her inevitable death, I recall her psychotic pleads to "finish the fate she was given". Because nothing could have been done to reduce her pain (besides sedation), she would have been a potential euthanasia patient, even if she would have been labeled a "suicide tourist".

My argument, as well as the deep problem within society, is solely against physical-assisted suicide for patients, capable of becoming better.

For example, Laura, a 24 year old Belgian women, suffering from depression, who was killed with lethal injection in the summer of 2015. An argument in opposition could argue that psychological pain is equivalent, or worse than physical pain. However, 98-99% of people who have received treatment for depression have little to no thoughts of dying. In this specific case, Laura would not have been euthanized; she would have committed state sanctioned suicide; her valuable life could have been saved.

( Photograph of Laura, presented in her YouTube documentary, "24 and Ready to Die"

The trend of PAS cases increasing at a rapid rate, can be explained by a silent poison, seeping into the minds of already vulnerable and sick patients. "The right to die can easily become the duty to die." said Dr. Peter Saunders, general surgeon and the director of Care Not Kill. Impressionable patients are exposed to feeling like a "waste of time" or financial burden, heightening their desire to pass.

Stop the social discourse.

Hospitals should advert their attention from how patients will die, to what could potentially save their lives. Shouldn't euthanasia be a rare and outdated practice, due to rising medical technology and palliative care, anyway?

When the medical practice of euthanasia was first publicized in the late 1800's, terminal patients were intended to be relieved of extensive physical pain. Only a decade later, those who suffered from mental illness were subjected to receive PAS. Fast forwarding to our modern day society, many countries horrifically offer euthanasia to healthy individuals, tired of living.

If euthanasia is not controlled and heavily monitored, who knows what groups of people might be affected in the future? Who's next, children?

Apparently, yes. Belgium, possessing similar PAS laws as Switzerland, has reported the first euthanized child in 2016.

Be frustrated; people will continue to die, unless we end suicide tourism and tighten the ambiguous laws of euthanasia.


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