Easter and the healthy committing suicide

By Spencer D Gear

At Easter seasons, we are faced with a situation where the eternal consequences of death are ignored and the promotion of suicide is glorified. Those of us who have spent years trying to prevent suicide receive a lethal message from this Swiss lawyer.

Here’s the situation. There should be virtually no restrictions on helping people to commit suicide. These are the comments from human rights lawyer, Ludwig Minelli, from the Dignatas Swiss clinic that offers help to people to kill themselves. That is what Minelli told BBC radio in the UK on 2 April 2009. This article stated:

The founder of Swiss right-to-die organisation Dignitas has defended helping Britons, including some psychiatric patients, kill themselves.

Ludwig Minelli told the BBC suicide was a “marvellous possibility” and he wants the assisted suicide law clarified for the healthy partners of dying people.

Former Labour Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt said his comments showed the need for a change in UK laws.

More than 100 Britons, mostly terminally ill, have died at Dignitas.

In his first broadcast interview for five years, Mr Minelli told BBC Radio 4’s The Report that failed suicide attempts created problems and heavy costs for the UK’s National Health Service.

He said: “I have a totally different attitude to suicide. I say suicide is a marvellous marvellous possibility given to a human being.”

This controversial comment has come from the organisation that runs a clinic in Switzerland that has assisted almost 900 people to kill themselves, about 100 of them being British. Fortunately, Swiss psychiatrists are not recommending this clinic.

The British newspaper, The Guardian (4 April 2009), reported that Minelli saw assisted suicide as “a very good possibility to escape a situation you can’t alter.” But he went way beyond this recommendation to cold-heartedly suggest that attempted suicide makes good business sense because of its burden on the costs of health care.

“For 50 suicide attempts you have one suicide and the others are failing with heavy costs on the National Health Service,” he told the BBC. “They are terribly hurt afterwards. Sometimes you have to put them in institutions for 50 years, very costly.”

For those of us who have spent many years counselling those who are troubled by the issues of life and the family, Minelli’s kind of comment is like a kick in the guts. This lawyer is advocating that attempted suicide is such a financial burden on the health system that these people should be done away with.

Ultimately, what’s the difference in consequences between the ethics of Minelli and Hitler?

For my exposition on the deleterious consequences of euthanasia, see: “Voluntary Active Euthanasia – a compassionate solution to those in pain?”

Dignatas and the euthanasia advocates in Holland are demonstrating the slippery slope that happens when those who begin with the desire to assist suicide of the terminally ill, ends up advocating much more.

Herbert Hendin MD, Professor of Psychiatry at New York Medical College, and medical director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, stated in 1995: “Over the past two decades, the Netherlands has moved from assisted suicide to euthanasia, from euthanasia for the terminally ill to euthanasia for the chronically ill, from euthanasia for physical illness to euthanasia for psychological distress and from voluntary euthanasia to nonvoluntary and involuntary euthanasia.”[1]

See also Herbert Hendin MD, The Case Against Physician-Assisted Suicide: For the Right to End-of-Life Care (Psychiatric Times, February 01, 2004).

At this Easter season we need to consider another dimension. Among the advocates of assisted suicide and euthanasia, an important factor seems to be overlooked.

What happens one second after you die? Where will you be? Is death the very end and the body and soul are obliterated? Talk of heaven or hell seems to be missing from this lethal advocacy for assisted suicide.

Worldviews have consequences. Worldviews of death need to be opposed by those who believe in eternal life and eternal punishment. Death does not end it all and Christ’s resurrection demonstrated this: “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins” (First Corinthians chapter 15).


[1] “Argument: Euthanasia creates a slippery slope to legal murder,” Available at: http://wiki.idebate.org/en/index.php/Argument:_Euthanasia_creates_a_slippery_slope_to_legal_murder [Accessed 2 January 2010].


Copyright (c) 2010 Spencer D. Gear.  This document last updated at date: 9 October 2015.

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