The normalization of suicide by the media — in the guise of celebrating assisted suicide as autonomy — continues. Now, as I predicted, the AP touts an assisted suicide party complete with pictures of the smiling guest of honor hours before she killed herself. From the story:
In early July, Betsy Davis emailed her closest friends and relatives to invite them to a two-day party, telling them: “These circumstances are unlike any party you have attended before, requiring emotional stamina, centeredness and openness.” And just one rule: No crying in front of her.
The 41-year-old artist with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, held the gathering to say goodbye before becoming one of the first Californians to take a lethal dose of drugs under the state’s new doctor-assisted suicide law for the terminally ill. “For me and everyone who was invited, it was very challenging to consider, but there was no question that we would be there for her,” said Niels Alpert, a cinematographer from New York City. “The idea to go and spend a beautiful weekend that culminates in their suicide — that is not a normal thing, not a normal, everyday occurrence. In the background of the lovely fun, smiles and laughter that we had that weekend was the knowledge of what was coming.”
The point is to make it normal, which is why someone alerted the media.
Would Davis have hesitated — delayed or changed her mind, perhaps — if enough of her friends and loved ones had said, “No, I won’t attend a party as prelude to your suicide, but I promise I will be with you until your natural end and do everything I can to make that a worthwhile time”? We’ll never know. But that is on them, not her. Every one of the guests who attended that party validated Davis’s suicide and are morally complicit in it.
But Wesley, she was terminally ill! She had ALS!
My friend Robert Salamanca, who died naturally and peacefully in his sleep from the disease, would have several choice words for that argument!
Besides, so what? Suicide is suicide. Autonomy is autonomy. Why should such deaths be reserved for the terminally ill?
Answer: It won’t be. Today, the media promote suicide chirpily as a good way of ending for the dying, as they also did in the Brittany Maynard PR blitz. Tomorrow, it will be the disabled who commit suicide cheered for “dying on their own terms.”
The day after that, perhaps, it will be a gushing story about an elderly couple who chose joint death rather than face prospective widowhood — as now occurs in Belgium.
When you think about it, there could be a whole new party industry created surrounding goodbye parties: Death cakes, “Goodbye forever” greeting cards. The possibilities are endless.
Cross-posted at The Corner.
Photo credit: © Jacob Lund — stock.adobe.com.