July 12, 2010
A Time to Die
Matthew Donnelly was a young man who fully appreciated the beauty of being alive. He had several friends and a brilliant mind that helped him do priceless research in the field of X-rays. Everything about his life seemed to be normal. He was young, and his hopes for the future were full of excitement and dreams that appeared very likely to come true. However, a day that Matthew had never before anticipated was now reality before his eyes. Shockingly, at age 30, Matthew Donnelly was diagnosed with a brutal case of skin cancer. Suddenly, his mind was bombarded with unanswered questions that seemed to flourish and infuse every beat of his heart with fear. Instead of succumbing to this sea of endless questions, Matthew decided to accept his dreadful reality and fight against a future of pain and unbearable suffering.
Not very long after the grim diagnosis, Matthew’s health started to deteriorate exponentially. His body was severely scarred with the effects of an abnormality that so drastically took its toll on him. In a matter of months, Matthew lost his nose, one of his hands, two fingers on his other hand, and even part of his jaw. The sickness caused him to become completely blind, and it was amid utter darkness that he fought each day against constant pain—a kind almost unbearable for any human being. Doctors had told him that he would inevitably die, but this day that at one time seemed to bring in it the fear of a journey unknown was now the escape he so desperately longed for. Having been told that he still might have to wait about a year until he could be set free from his physical suffering, Matthew begged for assistance to die. It was his life, and instead of losing it in pain and excruciating agony, he dreamed of an opportunity to leave mortality peacefully and painlessly. Since assisted suicide was not legal where he lived in, Matthew’s brother handled the situation the “best” way he knew how. He decided to respond to his beloved brother’s last desperate wish and end his physical suffering by reluctantly, yet courageously, shooting him dead. Herald was criticized by many and later accused and tried for committing murder. Assisted suicide is still seen by many as an act of crime and strictly prohibited in all but one State of the Union. However, it should be a legal right of those under critical and terminal illnesses to decide, under medical supervision, on the best way to handle the last days of their own lives and, if desired, receive professional help necessary to have a more peaceful death. In order to better understand a rather controversial topic like this, it is important to comprehend what makes it a reasonable option, what specialists in the medical field have to say about it, why it is so controversial in so many parts of the world including the United States, and why making it legal sounds like a legitimate decision to be made. First off, to understand why and when it makes sense to consider assisted suicide as an option, it is important to understand what it really means. There is great confusion in the world, even among educated people, regarding the actual definition of assisted suicide, and how it differs from a rather similar, yet essentially different, practice widely known as euthanasia. In a study published by Drexel University, it was said: The main difference between [assisted suicide] and euthanasia is that in assisted suicide the patient is in complete control of the process that leads to death because he/she is the person who [decides and] performs the act of suicide [itself]. The other person simply helps (for example, providing the means for carrying out the action). Euthanasia, however, involves not providing or discontinuing treatments that would be reasonably effective in preventing the patient’s death because death is considered to be merciful to the patient by whoever makes the decision.