Death in Switzerland

There are nuts, and there are nuts. If you have a bipolar disorder or a schizophrenia diagnosis, you are miserable and you think your life is not worthwhile, you can now receive assistance overdosing on barbiturates in Switzerland. There is a news story on a documentary on this practice on the, Mental illness tests assisted suicide norms.

The documentary, “Tod nach Plan” (Death by Plan), which aired on Swiss-German television in early February, was echoed by the almost simultaneous screening of a documentary on Swiss-French television depicting a French writer with a non-mortal illness who travelled from France to Zurich to end her life.

Did you happen to get that part about non-mortal illness?

While there is little question that mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder (formerly known as manic depression) and schizophrenia can be debilitating in the extreme and lead to great suffering, the obvious difference between such illnesses and terminal diseases like cancer is that they do not carry with them the certainty of death.

Right. This leads us to the strange case of Andre Rieder. Mr. Rieder, given a bipolar label, had an organization in Switzerland assist him in offing himself.

[President of Lausanne-based assisted suicide organisation Exit, Jerome] Sobel defended the handling by sister organisation Swiss-German Exit of Rieder’s case as just and humane. He pointed to the patient’s 25-year illness during which he had been hospitalised almost 20 times, including periods spent in a closed psychiatric ward.

If mental health treatment wasn’t Hell, maybe Mr. Rieder wouldn’t have taken this, to my way of thinking, extreme way out, but we can only speculate on the matter.

“These situations [involving mental illness] are extremely rare. They had verified that the society had given him all the treatment and support it should give to someone, but in the end life is not a prison,” said Sobel.

Life is not a prison, a prison is a prison, and since we’re on the subject of the meaning of words, let me continue in this vein. I’ve got news for you folks in Switzerland, we have a word for assisted suicide, and that word is homicide. If someone decides to commit suicide, you don’t have to assist them.