Offers of help and gestures of love should be at the centre of our relationships rather than assisted suicide, a commentator has warned.
Tim Stanley made the remarks ahead of an upcoming debate on the issue in the House of Commons.
Stanley, writing for The Telegraph online, gave scenarios where people could face pressure to kill themselves if assisted suicide were legalised.
He noted that “people do not make choices in isolation”, and said friends of vulnerable people need to step in with care and compassion.
Stanley also countered the idea that assisted suicide is a “rational and humane reform”, highlighting a recent letter from doctors who heavily cautioned against legalisation.
The commentator warned that assisted suicide could become fashionable – viewed “as a solution to the problem of pain, although pain is a tragic reality of life”.
He imagined an example of a man who lives alone and has been told he has cancer which has spread throughout his body.
The man becomes confused and depressed and would rather die than face difficulty. “What”, Stanley added, “if he had been told by someone who loves him that there’s always hope?”
“What if he’d been made to understand that the pain isn’t always unbearable, that it can be lived with and that he could even be given some relative comfort?
“Is he really committing assisted suicide because of his physical illness or because of his mental condition?”
Stanley gave the example of a friend’s mother who recently died.
Despite doctors saying it was time to ‘let nature run its course’, the woman recovered enough to “enjoy many more weeks with her family”.
Stanley’s friend told him he was so glad to have that extra time.
Noting that some in society do not encourage us to “leave ourselves open to hope and love”, the columnist asked whether it is better to make space for “such wonderful possibilities” than to choose death.
MPs are expected to debate and vote on Rob Marris’ assisted suicide Bill on 11 September.