Portland is experiencing a suicide crisis. From the Oregonian story:

The number of suicides in Oregon — which has a suicide rate 35 percent higher than the national average — keeps climbing. According to the state’s violent death report, there were 566 suicides in 2008, 641 in 2009 and preliminary figures show 670 in 2010.  The number of calls to Oregon Partnership’s Suicide Lifeline has risen from 11,303 in 2008 to 19,016 in 2010.  “Oregon’s rate has been consistently higher than the rest of the country,” said Katrina Hedberg state epidemiologist. “We do not have adequate resources to address the problem.”

And they aren’t counting the 70 or so annual assisted suicides, which would add about 10% to the phony total, which the law pretends isn’t actually suicide.

So, why exactly is it a problem when some people commit suicide, but not a problem that other people commit suicide?  Indeed, Oregon goes even further, proclaiming in its public policy that some suicides are so right, doctors can facilitate them.  Then, when the rate of other categories who kill themselves increases, it is a crisis.  The paradox does not compute.

Every suicide should be prevented, if possible, not just some.  Mixed messages makes it difficult to maintain a robust anti suicide policy.  (Remember “Invisible Suicide Prevention Week?”)  You can’t say, in effect, “Don’t jump off a bridge,” and then when told, “But I have cancer,” say, “Oh, that’s different, here take these poison pills” and expect despairing people to pay attention.

Connect the dots, people!  Legalizing assisted suicide is pro suicide.  Perhaps one way to reverse the tide would be to revoke the state’s pro suicide for some people law so that the state can communicate a consistent anti suicide message.

Articles by Wesley J. Smith

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