Assisted suicide is dangerously disablist

by Phillippa Willitts, Global Comment, 22 September 2017

Philippa Willitts is a British freelance writer who specialises in writing about disability, women’s issues, social media and tech.

Perhaps the most worrying aspect of the current assisted suicide debate in the UK and around the world is the idea that suicide prevention is very, very important and to be prioritised, but only for non-disabled people. When a disabled person becomes suicidal, their urges can be legitimised by their family and friends and approved by a doctor where their non-disabled counterpart would have been offered mental health support (at least they would in the days we had functioning mental health services, prior to austerity).

Why is pain considered a problem that cannot be borne by anybody, but when someone survives an abusive relationship or deals with violent homophobia or faces great financial disadvantage, they are encouraged to live through it, and come out of it stronger? How can we pit one human problem against another and judge that some of them are worthy of death, while others are worthy of encouragement and support?

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