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“Zero Suicide” Project Forgets about Assisted Suicide

Wesley J. Smith

It rarely fails. I see a news story lauding a suicide-prevention program. But when I check it out, the prevention strategies described are usually incomplete, making no mention of — or opposition to — assisted suicide, even though some see legalization as a contributing cause of our nation’s suicide crisis.

Recently, when I read about a commendable program called the “Zero Suicide” project, I hoped it would be different. You see, it focuses explicitly on preventing suicide in the health-care context. From the website:

The foundational belief of Zero Suicide is that suicide deaths for individuals under care within health and behavioral health systems are preventable. It presents both a bold goal and an aspirational challenge.

Great. But how can you have “zero” suicides in health care if assisted suicide is legal and doctors facilitate those deaths? I searched the website, and alas, as far as I could discern, the issue is never mentioned.

What a disappointment. The Zero Suicide website even features a video of Michael Hogan, PhD, discussing how to “make healthcare suicide safe,” but he fails to mention the question of doctor-prescribed death.

Indeed, the well-meaning gentleman assiduously avoids the controversy! He describes preventing suicide in the ER. He describes preventing suicide in primary-care departments and in mental-health wards. But he never mentions preventing suicide in hospice, oncology, or other health-care specialties that deal with terminally ill and disabled people who are identified as proper candidates for suicide-facilitation by the euthanasia movement.

I am certainly not criticizing the goal of this program. It’s important work. But Zero Suicide will only to be true to its name and purpose when it incorporates opposing physician-assisted suicide as part of its overall prevention strategy. Zero suicides in the health-care context either means all, or it really means only some.

Image credit: Maklay62, via Pixabay.

Cross-posted at The Corner.

Wesley J. Smith

Chair and Senior Fellow, Center on Human Exceptionalism
Wesley J. Smith is Chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to National Review and is the author of 14 books, in recent years focusing on human dignity, liberty, and equality. Wesley has been recognized as one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics by National Journal and has been honored by the Human Life Foundation as a “Great Defender of Life” for his work against suicide and euthanasia. Wesley’s most recent book is Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, a warning about the dangers to patients of the modern bioethics movement.

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assisted suicidedoctorsemergency roomhealth carehospicemedicinemental healthMichael Hoganoncologypatientspreventionsuicide crisisterminal illnessZero Suicide