Dying with dignity laws give us even more freedom

When 16-year-old Palo Alto High School student died last October after being fatally struck by Caltrain commuter train, authorities ruled it an apparent suicide. After hearing the news, I stopped and wondered what circumstances arose for this young man to have killed himself.

Perhaps he was clinically depressed or was bullied in school and didn’t have support from family or friends. Therapy can only go so far so some people feel like they have to take matters into their own hands.

So if someone is in a lot of pain and cognitively aware to make logical decisions, is it illogical for the government to provide options that allow us to kill ourselves?

I believe in America. I believe in owning a gun, gay marriage, driving giant pick-up trucks and eating enough Big Macs to fall into a deadly diabetic coma. If we’re free to harm ourselves by eating unhealthy foods and smoking enough cigarettes to kill us, then I believe we should also have the freedom to kill ourselves, under varying circumstances, with dignity.

Brittany Maynard made headlines Nov. 1, when she died in Oregon under their Death with Dignity Act, an initiative enacted in 1997 that allows terminally ill Oregonians to end their lives voluntarily through self-administered lethal medication. Maynard, 29, suffered from terminal brain cancer. She chose to die early and use her time left to part with her husband and her family.

“Because the rest of my body is young and healthy, I am likely to physically hang on for a long time even though cancer is eating my mind. I probably would have suffered in hospice care for weeks or even months. And my family would have had to watch that.,” said Maynard in an opinion article she wrote for CNN.

Her death was a final act of empowerment in which she defeated the cancer by killing it first.

Anyone suffering from an illness should be given options including the right to legally end their pain.

People need help and support under times of depression, and I support suicide prevention programs. However, if the reasons for wanting death can be beneficial for the person, then I don’t see why assisted suicide is such a polarizing issue in America.

Catholic Bishops reaffirmed the church’s opposition of assisted suicide, “a society that devalues some people’s lives by hastening and facilitating their deaths will ultimately lose respect for their other rights and freedoms,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

I hope the U.S. government sanctions methods that allow me to have an awesome way to die without question. When I’m older and my quality of life has diminished, go ahead and strap me on a rocket with fireworks and launch me over New York City, an explosion followed by a neon colored light show would blanket the night sky with the message “Smell Ya Later.”

My family has a history of combatting Alzheimers. My last few memories of my great aunt were of her on her deathbed riddled with the disease, often spouting curse words and acting violently toward loving family members that she no longer recognized. If that were to happen to me, I would prefer my last moments on Earth to be pleasant for myself and those around me.

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