Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Suicide by Duress

A stroke recoverer friend in his 60s recently visited a new GP for the first time.

‘Have you ever considered suicide?’ she asked as she went through his notes.

‘No’, he replied.

‘Why not?’ she asked.

He was so thrown by her question (and having lost his ability to react spontaneously anyway through stroke damage) that he did not reply.

I suggested to him that he should complain to the surgery and get to the bottom of whether this was professional misconduct or she simply didn’t explain herself properly.

However he has so many battles to fight on a daily basis, he has to choose them carefully and is thinking of just requesting a different doctor in future.

It set me thinking about how not so long ago suicide was considered ‘a sin’ to the point that a suicide could not be buried in consecrated ground, yet somehow suicide has now become socially acceptable and even touted as ‘a human right’.

I particularly find it disturbing that this is bound to affect and influence those who might have challenging lives or health issues but who don’t necessarily want to die – they just want proper compassionate care and to be able to trust their health professionals to provide it.

To read that NHS hospitals got a ‘bonus’ for each patient they put onto the ‘Liverpool Care Pathway’ to bring their lives to an end (even if their lives were nowhere near their natural end) is frankly chilling. Some patients on the LCP have not even been old but cancer sufferers in their 40s and 50s and many it now transpires were being placed on the LCP without their consent or their next of kin’s consent.

Moreover, since when did food and fluids come to be termed ‘treatment’ to be withdrawn, rather than basic sustenance required as an essential human right?

What next? A posthumous award to Dr Harold Shipman for his humanitarian works? It seems to me there is little difference between what he was doing and what the Liverpool Care Pathway has been doing.

If we have an over-population problem, there must surely be better ways of solving it than manslaughter at worst and societal coercion for those who've served their economic purpose at best.


Steve said...

If our own doctors think we are all better off dead then we are all fucked. Another victory for the Big Society.

The Sagittarian said...

As Steve said...

broken biro said...

I knew it would come to this. Ever since watching 'Logan's Run'.

Marginalia said...

At the very least his doctor should have to explain her questioning.

Hearing about the payment by results approach gives an insight into how it was possible ordinary Germans were able to horrible things to their fellows.

Wisewebwoman said...

This is such a complex issue Laura as I've known a few that didn't achieve their desire to die with dignity but wound up in a true land of horrors.

Nota Bene said...

Wow. How did I miss this? That's a truly shocking question for the doctor to ask...surely that breaches the Hippocratic Oath?

I would like to 'die with dignity' when the time comes...and the important thing is 'when the time comes' not because someone's going to make a few bucks out of it

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Thanks for all your comments folks. Yes, it can be a complicated issue WWW, particularly if dementia is involved for example, but there are codes of good practice out there for pretty well every eventuality which work if followed and why should any of us be forced to dread the onset of old age or feel it is somehow unnatural and makes us a burden?