The Allure of Suicide

 Edit: Thursday, March 20, 2008   Chantal has been found dead.

I have definite opinions on many things, often to the extent that it puzzles me why others don’t see things the same as I. The ramification of some issues seems so definite, so easily understood, and so quickly judged. There are many areas, though, when I can see both sides of a situation, and to take a stance one way or the other is difficult or downright impossible. Such a challenging set of affairs is the story of Chantal Seibre who is suffering from a painful, very disfiguring disease, and who wants to commit suicide.

A FRENCH court has rejected a request from a 52-year-old severely disfigured former schoolteacher for the right to die, in a case that has stirred much emotion in France.

The high court in Dijon, eastern France, decided to side with the prosecution which argued current legislation does not allow Chantal Sebire’s doctor to prescribe lethal drugs.

More here.

Chantal suffers excruciating pain, and is so terribly disfigured that children run in fear from her. She no longer wants to live this way, and pleads that one would have mercy on an animal who suffers as she does, and would put the animal out of its misery. Her picture is available on this link that includes the remainder of the article. (I couldn’t bear to bring the picture over. Be warned. It is graphic and possibly disturbing.)

What is your opinion? Should someone like this be allowed to commit suicide? How about assisting her? What about the Bible that speaks against killing? What about her extreme pain? How about the sanctity of life?

I’ll comment more later when I return from my Bible study.

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My devotional blog is here.

19 thoughts on “The Allure of Suicide

  1. Aisha Buxton

    commenting on “…we humans did many awful things because of our ideologies…”

    What are the awful things that you are referring to?

    Could it be possible that these awful things wouldn’t have been done if those humans had lived by some morals? Godly morals. I agree with Jay Burns. Cordieb, I commend you for your strength and passion for life.

    I feel very sorry for Chantal. Yes I too wish peace and comfort for her family.

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  2. Maximiliano

    We all have the right to choose how to live our life, because we don´t bonr with a contract, laws, religion or “how to live” manual in our hands. All we have and belive is pure human ideologies. For that reason I would never understand why is better to stay alive and suffer than choose dead and rest in peace. God is a belief, religion is a choise, her pain was a fact. We humans did many awfull things because of our ideologies, and seems we still do.

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  3. Jay Burns

    J Mullins – Yes, actually I believe morals do trump pain and even terrible anguish. That is pretty much what morals are all about. To give us guidance when our own judgement is scewed by things such as pain, depression and anxiety.

    Do I want this woman to continue in her agony? No. No in it’s simplest form. In fact if she wants to end it all. She can and has at this point.

    My contention isn’t whether she can kill her self. No one is capable of stopping that. My point is that no doctor, nurse, family member or judge should aid in that decision. I believe suicide in all its forms are wrong. Those are my morals and she is under no obligation to follow them. Also, I can certainly understand why she made that choice. I can’t say for certain that I wouldn’t want to do the same, However, as I said before that is when your morals are put to the test.

    I believe that Chantal was looking for someone to say “it’s okay” before she ended her life. An attempt at pre-forgiveness for what she knew was wrong.

    I take no pleasure in her suffering, and frankly I don’t understand why a loving God would ask her to endure such a terrible experience. It is something about God that I’ll never understand. On the other hand, He is much greater than I. If I could understand all his mysteries He wouldn’t be a very big God now would he.

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  4. @ Jay Mullins and all, but especially Jay. After reading your response and reading mine again, I feel ashamed at the judgemental tone of some of what I said. No one know’s our pain like we do; and who am I to say. Also, looking back on my life, there have been times when I didn’t want to go on any more and I even once attempted it, thank God it was unsuccessful; but even if I were successful, like you, I share the belief that the loving God I know would have loved me inspite of my choice. Also, I too have been married to a batterer, and I can’t answer to anyone why I remained in the marriage for 5 years. I suspose I could have left. Put the fact is I didn’t. The reason–simply because. I could not in that moment in space leave. It had nothing to do with love, keeping the family together or anything else other than, I didn’t have the strenth to leave until I did leave. Thanks JM for humbling me and bringing me back down to earth. Sometimes I need to hear a voice, such as your own, to remind me that we are only human. I pray that Chantal has found peace and that her gentle spirit will continue in those who loved her, knew her and/or knew of her.
    Peace, Light and Love . . .
    CordieB

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  5. J Mullins

    While I respect the views of those commenting here, the overriding viewpoint makes me angry, that Chantal was somehow “saved” by the governments’ refusal to allow her to end her life. This woman’s choice was to end her life. This was not a choice foisted or forced upon her; I can imagine she spent wracking hours coming to that decision. You cannot even begin to fathom her pain – physical, let alone emotional pain.

    Why do your morals, your beliefs, trump that? Why do you have to agree to allow this woman to live or end her life as she needs?

    Not everyone shares your beliefs. Not everyone sees the world the way you do. If you disagree, please, share your viewpoint. But to be glad that this woman was forced to continue to endure this pain, of which you have no understanding, simply to satisfy your belief system, I feel is cruelty at its sharpest.

    I feel the real issue here is whether the government, or any external body, has the right to interfere in our personal lives. cordeib says: “Do we really want the government to put it’s two cent’s in on what constitutes a useful life.” That is exactly what they have done.

    No-one else can possibly know what Chantal has endured. No-one else has the right to make a judgment on what is endurable. She made her choice. And the loving God I know will bless her for it.

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  6. Pingback: Chantal Sebire Dies « Shirley Buxton

  7. I’m a bit late in commenting here, but I found this post very interesting (for lack of a better word). I have to agree with your summary, Sister Buxton. And Jay’s comment stumped me. Suicide is one of those subjects that I tend to tread on lightly. I suppose because it seems so easy to judge – and it so quickly leaves our lips. I know this isn’t related but as I read through the comments I thought about something that I leaved in my Family Violence class. When hearing about a battered women who is being beat up by her husband it’s so easy to ask, “Why do women stay?” But isn’t the better question to ask, “Why do people batter?”

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  8. Hello, everyone. I’ve read your comments, and agree with most of them. A summary of my thoughts about this is:

    1. I don’t believe assisted suicide is morally correct.
    2. I don’t believe suicide is morally correct.
    3. I find it dangerous to start judging when a person is in enough pain to warrant his/her death. Millions of people live in pain–some in constant, very severe suffering.
    4. I don’t think anyone could ever be disfigured enough to warrant death. I love Cordeib’s remarks about loving her mother even if “her flesh (were) hanging off of her.”
    5. Nearly everyone has apprehension about dying and tends to want to live as long as possible. Jay’s comments were interesting, and I wonder if perhaps this poor lady really doesn’t want to die, for as Jay mentioned, she could arrange that for herself. There’s something about the human who fights and claws for life.
    6. We might be one day away from a cure for a disease that at this moment is considered uncurable. We must not give up hope.

    Having said these things, I am filled with compassion for Chantal and for her situation. I wish her God’s peace and blessing and relief from her pain.

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  9. The government certainly can not take an active role in aiding this woman’s suicide. What would be the message for all those who are suffering from cancer, aides, and many other illnesses, who endear and still cling for life; and oftentimes overcome their illnesses. What’s message would be sent to those who are less beautiful in the eyes of society than most. Do we really want the government to put it’s two cent’s in on what constitutes a useful life. I wouldnt’t want that decision, let alone the government. God gave us life to live and sow goodness and life – what kind of message would be sending if we felt that it is ok for this person to die, simply because she’s disfigured or in pain. We all must endure some sort of pain in life. I’ts how we handle the pain tht really mattes. I feel very sad for this woman. She has evidently identified herself with good health and good looks. There could be so very much more to her, if she could stop consentrating on these things. Like Jay Burns said above, iIf she is so persistent, why is it that she won’t do herself in. Why sanction such an act? She seems to be very selfish to me. I’m sure her children love her regardless of her deformity, unless she’s taught them to put more value to the physical form than to the person inside. My mom could walk around with flesh hanging off of her (if she were still alive). I’d still love her to death. It’s the year 2008. Why is it that some type of pain eleveator can’t be prescribed. I believe that God knew how vulnerable to pain human beings would eventually become, that why he gave us the knowledge to make medicines, especially pain medicines. As a message to all the world, I hope the government does not give her a death wish!

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  10. Jay Burns

    While I don’t agree with physician assistend suicide, or suicide in general, I don’t understand why this is even in question. A person who truely wants to end their life doesn’t seek assistance from a doctor. They do it one way or another. Whether it be saving up daily medications until a leathal dose has been saved or other means. I believe if she really wanted to end her life we would be having this discussion after the fact, not before.

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  11. Aisha Buxton

    Keeping the gift of “life” highly respected was the right thing to do, in my opinion, of the French.

    I know, and saw, that the picture of her makes you curdle, not in fear of her, but in pain for her. I’ve seen many grotesque people, some who have actually made themselves to look this way through plastic surgery on their own accord. Children who “run in fear of her” are just that, “CHILDREN”; who have big imaginations, juvenile etc. I don’t believe that mature adults would treat her that way. I sure hope not.

    However, by looks, how can we gage her physical pain in comparison to one who may look okay on the outside, but on the inside puts up with excruciating pain, and would also wish to die.

    Are not some of the purposes of medical science to; sustain life without violating the morals of my community. To keep the good of the patient as the highest priority. Shouldn’t the goal of the doctor’s be to bring as much comfort as possible to her? Rather than to end her life… or is that just “easier”.

    People in 3rd world countries suffer much… shall all of their lives be ended also.

    Although, it is true, that an animal today would not be allowed to endure pain on any level.

    I don’t want to sound like I do not feel for this woman. I do. But there are lines that are black and white. If those are made to be grey, our society will grow worse and worse.

    Respect the gift of life. There are sure purposes of medical science. There are sure purposes of the church. This makes me want to do my job better (as a church body) so that people like her are helped to be able to make is through.

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  12. Esther

    I, for one, can’t see this disfigument as unsermountable. Can’t surgery help fix this face so that it would not be so gross? Or it the pain she suffers the main reason?
    I do not believe in any type of suicide. I believe as long as their is life there is hope.

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  13. Well, Shirley. I, too, “have definite opinions on many things, often to the extent that it puzzles me why others don’t see things the same as I. The ramification of some issues seems so definite, so easily understood, and so quickly judged.” But then again, you knew that.

    I think life is of infinite value. That is why I do not believe in abortion, the death penalty, or war. All of these take lives. And yet, as a Christian, I believe that we pass from death to life; that life is eternal. Death is a passing from life on this earth to life in heaven. And while I don’t want to rush my passage from this earth, I do see why people like Chantal want to be relieved from their misery. I don’t have any problem with it, as long as it is assisted suicide, not murder. That’s the tough part. At least, one of the tough parts.

    The possibility exists that people could speed death to inherit property. They’d create disposable people. But is that a valid reason to make Chanel suffer? There is a possibility that each person who picks up a knife to peel carrots might use it to slit a person’s throat. Granted that’s silly, but you get my point. We cannot live in fear. And I don’t think God wants us to.

    Assisted suicide is a very serious matter. But then again so is abortion, and the world goes silly and wants to elect its world rulers over this, when the same people confess to believe those children will be in heaven. This is not an easy subject. Not black and white. Hard. Like much of life.

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