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New Jersey’s Suicide Confusion

Wesley J. Smith

New Jersey recently became one of the seven states (plus the District of Columbia) to legalize assisted suicide by statute. In effect, New Jersey sanctions suicide for some residents through its public policy.

Now, with COVID-19, New Jersey officials are worried about a spike in suicide caused by the shutdown, so for them, suicide is bad. From the NJ.Com story: 

On top of the more than 78,000 Americans who have already died from the fast-spreading virus, a new study from the Well Being Trust found conditions from the pandemic — including lost jobs, isolation, and fear over the future — could lead to 75,000 deaths in the nation from drug or alcohol abuse and suicide over the next decade.

This comes as a number of critics say they’re worried lockdowns designed to save lives from COVID-19 could have an even greater toll due to economic and mental despair.

[NJ Governor] Murphy was asked Saturday during his daily coronavirus briefing in Trenton if the state will track suicides and consider this when determining how to reopen the state. “I don’t know specifics in terms of tracking suicides, but we have said this: The combination of isolation and now other factors like job losses are having big impacts on folks, there’s no question about it,” the governor said.

So, let me get this straight. If someone is in despair because he lost everything when his business collapsed or had a loved one die from COVID-19, he shouldn’t be able to commit facilitated suicide.

But if he is in despair because he has been diagnosed as terminally ill with COVID-19, he should not only be able to self-terminate, but also, have his suicide facilitated by a doctor, under the law.

Let’s Prevent All Suicides

No! That’s nonsensical. We should be concerned about preventing all suicides, not just some.

Suicidal ideation is suicidal ideation — regardless of the reason for wanting to die. Everyone who becomes suicidal because of a COVID-19 impact — or for any other reason — should receive prevention services. Everyone. It is illogical and destructive to the value of human life for New Jersey (and other pro–assisted suicide states) to have such a lethally dichotomous public policy.

Photo: New Jersey State House, Trenton, NJ, by Lowlova / CC BY-SA.

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 suicidecoronavirusCOVID-19despairDistrict of ColumbiadoctorsNew JerseyPhil Murphypublic policysuicide preventionWell Being Trust