Even three years later, Nicholas had not recovered from this experience. He was still riddled with extreme sadness and ignored grief, guilt and feelings of abandonment. It was extremely painful to see him still in the grips of such agony. Eventually, Nicholas told me that while he cared for me a tremendous amount (which I believed); he couldn't handle a romantic relationship at that time, which was true. I realized Nicholas was making the right decision, but I was tremendously heartbroken and missed him terribly. The entire experience clearly demonstrated for me how suicide truly can wage further collateral damage on a wide range of lives. Just as a given individual in life is not aware of how many lives they touch, in death, particularly suicide -- an action which is so destructive, unfathomable and hurtful to so many people -- a person who commits suicide can touch the lives of people he never even met before. In my case, I felt I was being hurt by the selfish actions of a man I had never even met before. The most heartbreaking aspect of this story is that if Nicholas's friend had gotten the help he needed, it might have had a completely different ending. As Nuland says, "I have more than once seen a suicidal old person emerge from depression, and rediscovered thereby a vibrant friend. When such men or women return to a less despondent vision of reality, their loneliness seems to them less stark and their pain more bearable because life has become more interesting again and they realize there are people who need them" (152).
While suicide of a beloved friend or family member is one of the saddest tragedies another human being may have to live through, euthanasia is still something that I feel strongly that all human beings have a right to. For example, the film "The Sea Inside" shows very aptly the callousness of denying an individual this absolute right, and how forcing someone to prolong their life, in spite of their tremendous suffering and hardship, is simply wrong and a violation of ethical and moral codes. Just as a human being has the right to live as he or she sees fit, each human being absolutely has the right to die. As one doctor in favor of euthanasia posits, "The important question is how that person's life ends. If someone can choose euthanasia, they don't have to think about the worry and the suffering only. They can also focus on the things they really want to do, like a taking a last trip, or making up a fight with someone in the family, or saying goodbye. The pressure on that person becomes lighter when they know they won't have to go on suffering. Often, people who have chosen euthanasia have such peace of mind that they die naturally anyway"(Kimsma). People should be able to embrace self-empowerment as much as humanly possible. At the end of one's life, one should not be victimized by a disease or feel held captive by their bodies. Being able to choose when to end one's life allows one a greater amount of autonomy during a time when one needs it most. Just as Nuland elucidates, so few people will die with dignity that it makes it all the more important to live with dignity -- even if it means choosing euthanasia during the end of one's life, to take one out of the equation of unfathomable suffering.
Kimsma, G. A doctor who SUPPORTS euthanasia. April 1997. http://www.newint.org/easier-english/right_to_die/favormd.html. 28 June 2012.
Nuland, Sherwin B. How We Die: Reflections on Life's Final Chapter. New York: Vintage Books, 1993.
The Sea Inside. Dir. Alejandro Amenabar. Perf. Javier Bardem. 2004. Film.