Introduction

8. These suicide requests do not arise from mental illness. These are fully informed, competent people who are not under anyone’s control or influence. They are making a rational choice to avoid tortuous pain and suffering. Shouldn’t we treat them differently from those with “mental illness?”

8. These suicide requests do not arise from mental illness. These are fully informed, competent people who are not under anyone’s control or influence. They are making a rational choice to avoid tortuous pain and suffering. Shouldn’t we treat them differently from those with “mental illness?”

  • The concept of “rational suicide” has been promoted by a very small but vocal group of researchers, but has not been accepted by any of the major mental health associations.  Of 27 scholarly articles found on the topic of “rational suicide and the American Psychological Association,” 12 were written by either James Werth or James Rogers in support of “rational suicide.”  Surveys that show support for “Rational Suicide” may, in fact, reveal more about disability bias among mental health professionals.
    (Source: Gill, C. J. (2000). Health professionals, disability, and assisted suicide: An examination of relevant empirical evidence and reply to Batavia (2000). Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 6(2), 526-545. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/1076-8971.6.2.526)
  • In the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM V) released by the American Psychiatric Association in 2012, assessments for suicidality factor in whether a person has a disabling condition as a potential cause.  In other words, the presence of a disability is a reason to offer suicide prevention services. (Source: Oquendo, M. A., & Baca-Garcia, E. (2014). Suicidal behavior disorder as a diagnostic entity in the DSM-5 classification system: advantages outweigh limitations. World Psychiatry, 13(2), 128-130. doi:10.1002/wps.20116)
  • A variety of social factors can cause suicidal feelings: isolation, bullying, violence, devaluation by society, institutionalization, identity issues, culture and language deprivation, substance abuse, and more.  These are all associated with the discrimination of people with disabilities, as well as other groups such as First Nations people, LGBT people, and veterans.  In addition, people with disabilities and elders are subject to high rates of abuse and domestic violence, another factor that contributes to suicide.
  • Finally, studies done of requests for assisted suicide found that the reasons given by people requesting assisted suicide are the same as those given by other suicidal people.  As well, people asking for assisted suicide are likely to be influenced by the same suicide prevention measures which are effective for non-disabled suicidal people.