Don’t kill yourself! Not yet, anyway…

Fans of Walker Percy’s Love In The Ruins may remember the “Qualitarian Centers” that helped people ease themselves gently into that good night. As has been the case for the last couple of decades, we in the Northwest are blazing a trail towards dignity at any cost. Rita L. Marker explains:

Like most jurisdictions, Mount Vernon has a team of experienced commissioned law enforcement officers who are highly trained crisis/hostage negotiators. To continually enhance their life-saving skills, they have periodic training sessions. One routine training that took place in early August indicates how assisted-suicide promotion can permeate activities in unexpected ways.

As part of that recent training session, Amber Ford, a social worker from the hospital’s oncology department, presented a comprehensive two-hour discussion about the suicide risk among cancer patients. According to one of the attendees, her presentation was sensitive and informative. But, at the end, a jarring note was introduced. Prefacing her comments by explaining that she was aware of I-1000’s controversial nature, Ford explained that assisted suicide, like hospice care, was among the alternatives available to cancer patients. And, in keeping with providing all options now available in the state, she distributed a brochure from Compassion & Choices (C & C), the assisted-suicide advocacy group (formerly called the Hemlock Society).

The brochure explains: “C & C created the coalition that passed I-1000 into law and now stewards, protects and upholds Washington’s Death with Dignity Act. There is never a fee for any service provided by C & C, and confidentiality is strictly protected.” A toll-free number is provided to make access to assisted suicide only a phone call away. The brochure notes that a C & C volunteer can help patients “locate physicians who support a patient’s choice to use the law” – in other words, to find a doctor willing to prescribe a deadly overdose of drugs.

The irony was not lost on one experienced negotiator in attendance:

“I find it interesting that, as crisis negotiators, we are trying to talk people out of killing themselves. But by the end of the afternoon, we had a social worker from the oncology department of the hospital talking about being able to assist people in killing themselves.”

If, indeed, part of crisis management eventually includes offering suicide assistance, it could lead to a rather bizarre screening process. When a 911 call comes in, will there be an extra step in the screening process? If a person calls, asking for help for a suicidal family member, will the screener ask if the person is terminally ill? If not, crisis negotiators could be dispatched to the scene. But, if the suicidal person is terminally ill, will she be given C & C’s toll free number – so C & C could dispatch assisted-suicide facilitators?

There’s no hilarity quite so hilarious as matters-of-life-and-death hilarity.


  1. Jonathan Webb says

    Really shallow. Pathetic and ridiculous.

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