Friday, 4 February 2011

Diaconal Studies

As I have mentioned previously on the Blog I am in a three year formation program which, DV, will lead to me being ordained as a Deacon. We have this topic to write about; I would welcome your views on this:
Your best friend has been living for years with an unrelenting painful affliction. There is no known cure and no effective pain control. Although the condition is not in itself life threatening, your friend is incontinent and bed-ridden. Your friend tells you that he or she can no longer stand the pain, embarrassment, and dependency and wants to end their life. He or she has given this  a great deal of thought and pleads with you to leave several blister packs of paracetamol by the bed. What would you do?
Give clearly argued reasons for your answer. You may put the answer in letter form addressed to your friend if you wish.

1 comment:

  1. Are we going to see your response, Barry?
    There are tons of embedded issues in this dilemma. One of these issues has to do with, IMO, "Who owns the life?". Many theists who subscribe to the idea that life is sacred might argue that even the person who is living the life does not own it, and therefore, cannot dispose of it any more than they can dispose of another's life. Presumably, it would be wrong for the 'friend' to aid and abet this suicide.
    As a psychologist, I have not infrequently worked with people who want to end their lives. Whether real or imagined, their pain is excruciating. My position has always been that a rational and clear thinking individual has the right to terminate his own life, and if he is in a position of absolutely 'no hope', then he should not be interfered with in his goal. However, most people who are in that much distress' real or imagined' are not 'clear thinking and rational' and his belief that there is 'no hope' is most likely not true. My job is to help him recognise that there are options, and when folks see the existence of other options, they do not choose suicide.
    The scenario you describe implies there is no hope for relief from the pain etc., and that the pain is intolerable. Speaking as a non-theist myself, I believe I would have to support him in his wish.