Assisted suicide: explorable for some, deplorable to others

We live in a society that capitalizes on the notion of the continuation of life, but is there a certain point where dying is the answer? This is the breaking point 14-year-old Jerika Bolen hit on Sept. 20 when she made the choice to halt her medical treatment, disconnected her ventilator, and die.
Bolen suffered from a condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 2 and was diagnosed at approximately eight months old. In her 14 years of life she endured more than 30 surgeries, was limited to a power wheelchair, and was in near- constant pain.
According to Jerika’s mother, the tortured teen welcomed the idea of death, and could not be convinced to continue living in such a pained state. This brings forth a long debated controversy, should doctors be allowed to facilitate death when the patient in question consents to it?
While I would love to be the voice of positivity, ensuring that there is always a degree of life to be enjoyed and that the handicap in question could be overcome, I can’t say for certain that if I were in the same position as she I would not make the same decision.
I, similar to many others, have a fear of becoming a burden on my loved ones, or being reduced to a state of vegetation. After having indulged in the wonders life has given me thus far I am not sure that I would be able to endure being slammed into a wheelchair and having to depend on others for my constant care.
On the other end of the spectrum, how do we regulate and enforce the prospect of consented suicide? Does it only apply to those with illnesses like Jerika’s? Introducing the idea of assisted suicide deteriorates the value of life; any such precedent, once established, has the propensity to have drastic repercussions.
And so, I pose the question to you: If you were in the position of having an incurable physical illness, or if you slipped into a coma from which you may never wake, would you want the option of death to be available to you? Or is the invitation of death admonished on any and all circumstances?

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1 Response

  1. Greg Sealey says:

    Hi SYERRA. I just read your post. I have been following the Jerika Bolen story since July. I also have SMA like Jerika had. I understand pain but have not had the excruciating pain Jerika had. I saw an wrote about a 2008 survey that asks a similar question to the one you ask above. Here’s a link to that article (It was written before Jerika’s death).

    I am a firm believer that all life is precious, regardless of the form it takes. We as individuals should live life with purpose regardless of how limited it may be. A society also has a responsibility o how it takes care of its citizens in need. Specifically, Jerika needed relief from her pain, not death. As a society we should have done all we could to help her find that relief. Sadly, we chose to applaud her to the grave.

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