Archive for the ‘Suicide’ Category

-By Vidya Attaluri

About nine years ago I was introduced to and learned more about the concept of euthanasia after seeing it portrayed on a television show I was watching. As a young teen I had what may be an unexpected reaction in full support of the concept of euthanasia for those who are terminally ill and have full understanding of what their decision to participate in euthanasia means for both them and their loved ones. But how do you determine who is mature enough to make this decision? Should there be an age limit on who can participate or what illnesses can be considered to require euthanasia? Who gets to decide these things?

In a groundbreaking decision on February 13th, 2014 Belgium became the first country in the world to allow euthanasia for incurably ill children. I learned about the impactful new law through an article in the New York Times, “Belgium Close to Allowing Euthanasia for Ill Minors” by Dan Bilefsky. This article discussed the new law as well as the criticisms and reactions that followed its adoption. The law states that euthanasia would be allowed for terminally ill children that are close to death, experiencing “constant and unbearable suffering” and show a “capacity of discernment,” which would mean they understand the consequences of the decision to participate in euthanasia, as well as written consent from a legal guardian (Bilefsky, Year). In Europe, as compared to the United States, euthanasia has been a more widely accepted idea. Currently in the United States, as of January of 2014, euthanasia is banned nationwide but assisted dying, doctors prescribing a lethal dose of medication to terminally ill patients, is legal in Oregon, Washington, Montana, New Mexico, and Vermont. In Europe euthanasia is legal in The Netherlands, Luxembourg and in Switzerland assisted dying is legal. (more…)

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-By Nicole Rapkin

Should terminally ill children have the right to end their own lives? On Thursday, February 13, 2014, Belgium voted ‘yes’ when its lower house of parliament passed the new “right-to-die” legislation by a significant majority. Belgium, which legalized adult euthanasia in 2002, is the first country to allow euthanasia for terminally ill children of any age (Bartunek 2014). (more…)

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By Lauren Fisher

According to the Washington Post, “prescription painkillers grease a slippery slope toward a relapse for former heroin addicts.” The death of Philip Seymour Hoffman is perhaps one of the most viral news stories of 2014 thus far, and indeed appears to be a case in point. I will be the first to admit that I initially had no remorse for the late actor, known for his former heroin use and found dead with a needle still in his arm. Despite inconclusive toxicology results, I assumed that like many other celebrities, Hoffman simply partied much too hard, leaving disheveled and mourning loved ones behind to deal with the aftermath of his actions.

As investigations ensued, more and more information regarding Hoffman’s incessant drug use surfaced. It was revealed that the actor, 46, had been taking prescription opioids, which include the addictive drugs OxyCotin, Vicoden, and Percocet. Hoffman then again turned to heroin – much cheaper than a pharmaceutical – typically $10 a packet for heroin compared with nearly $80 on the street for an 80-milligram of OxyCotin. These behaviors reflect those of a true addict, and so my initial callousness to the case morphed into sympathy. Though others tend to disagree, I believe addiction is a disease. Those individuals suffering must be provided help – medical, legal, and emotional – in order to live a healthy, normal life. If not tended to adequately, disease often results in death, yet common mental health diseases such as addiction are often stigmatized and overlooked. (more…)

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Japan, one of the most industrialized countries in the world, is also known for its high suicide rates.  Yahoo! News recently confirmed that Japan’s number of suicides reached above 30,000 for the 13th straight year.  Compared to the United States (11 per 100,000 people) and the United Kingdom (9 per 100,000 people), Japan has double the figures as the statistics show about 25 suicides per 100,000 people.  Some of the main causes of the country’s high suicide rate involve unemployment, failure to get into a university, depression, and stress.  The current popular methods to perform suicide involve jumping in front of railroad trains, leaping off high places, overdosing on medication, hanging, and the inhalation of hydrogen sulfide.  In the modern era, some popular places for suicide are railroad tracks, high-storied buildings, households and the famous Aokigahara, a forested area at the base of Mount Fuji (where nearly 30-100 suicides occur per year). (more…)

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An astonishing and very tragic form of death has been taking place in parts of India over the last few decades.  Family suicide, in which the dominant member of the family murders the rest of the family before killing themselves, accounted for 38 individual deaths in 13 families in Kerala in 2009 alone.  Even higher than the number of family suicides is the rate of individual suicides in this area – approximately 25% of all deaths in 2009 in Kerala were suicides.  Even more disturbing is the fact that suicide accounts for about 40% of all deaths Sikkim, India.  This means that nearly half of all deaths in this area of India were related to suicide – a striking amount compared to the 1.3% of U.S. deaths resulting from suicide.  These statistics are striking and suggest that something needs to be done to intervene in these families before they decide that killing themselves is the only solution to their problems.  Although levels of suicide in India have dropped significantly in recent years, these drops are still not very uplifting because the suicide rate is still so high.  (more…)

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It seems that the construct of mental health in the World Health Organization (WHO) definition of health: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity,” may not be receiving the proper attention after reading “Suicide Over the Screen.”  According to WHO, the suicide rates internationally have increased 60 percent in the past 45 years.  In the past the population at the highest risk was thought to be elderly men, but now the risk shifts downward to the main cause of death in 15-35 year olds in a third of countries.  These countries include both developed and developing countries.  The most significant data on suicide states that 3,000 deaths by suicide occur daily in the world.


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