By Jonathon Van Maren
Suffering comes in innumerable forms. In our increasingly atomized society, we have fewer and fewer support systems and safety nets to alleviate our suffering. And so assisted suicide regimes have become the final – and predictable – consequence of radical personal autonomy. We are alone and we can do whatever we want – but because we are alone, many of us want to die.
Assisted suicide is becoming the default for our postmodern society’s many failures. If you attempt to change your sex – as the culture tells you that you can – and the surgery fails and the drugs don’t work, you can always opt for state-sanctioned suicide. If you are hopelessly lonely, you can ask to be euthanized. If you cannot break your addictions and are tired of trying, you can ask to be euthanized. Every one of those examples has happened in Western countries – and recently.
And so, it is not surprising that we are seeing the term “suffering” used as a catch-all category. A recent column in BioEdge noted several recent examples, including the death of 56-year-old Genevieve Lhermitte, who was killed by assisted suicide sixteen years to the day after she murdered her five children aged 15, 12, 10, 7, and 3 by stabbing them or slitting their throats – allegedly to traumatize her husband.
Sentenced to life in prison, she was released in 2019 into a psychiatric hospital. She asked for and was granted permission to commit assisted suicide for psychological suffering on February 28.
There are others. Nathalie Huygens, a 50-year-old Belgian who was the victim of a violent rape in 2016, applied for and was approved for assisted suicide due to the tremendous psychological suffering she endured afterwards. “I fought all this time day after day to keep myself alive, it is not tenable,” she told the press.
“I want the suffering to stop, to end. Knowing now that I can die is somehow reassuring.” As I noted in my 2016 book “The Culture War,” a 44-year-old suffering from anorexia also died by assisted suicide in 2014 after being sexually abused by her psychiatrist.