There are a number of large bridges in close proximity to my parish. Every now and than, one of them will be shut down because there is a person threatening to jump, and on occasion, someone will succeed. Leading to the bridges, there are signs that list the phone number for the Good Samaritans and encourage people who are considering taking their lives to call for help.
Many of us have heard news stories about a heroic person, a police officer or firefighter who have talked someone out of leaping off a ledge, or shooting themselves.
The survival instinct is part of our human nature. When there is a major storm, like Hurricane Sandy, or a tragedy like the events of September 11th, people will do almost anything to survive. Whatever the sacrifice, inconvenience or difficulty, people will put up with almost anything to preserve their life. What we will do to survive is unimaginable, and the great heroism that people will show to save another person from ending their life truly inspirational.
Why are we so willing to put our lives are risk to prevent another from taking their own? Because we know it’s the right thing to do. And, we know that someone who is willing to take their own life is not of sound mind. Life is precious. Good people want to help others, especially those who are in pain, preserve their life and sort out their difficulties. With all of that said, I just have to ask how any society could degrade to such an extent that they would want to legalize assisting people to take their own lives. The citizens of Massachusetts are being faced with this ghastly choice in the upcoming election. Suicide goes against the very nature of the human person. I would suggest that anyone who is faced with this question in the upcoming election, look at the person on the bridge, and the person with a gun to their head and ask yourself: “What is the difference between jumping off a bridge or taking a bottle of pills.” Both have the same objective and both are equally wrong. How can society be so opposed to a person taking a gun to their head, and be open to giving them a few pills to meet the same objective? One is very messy and one isn’t. In reality neither form of suicide is good. In one situation, we may not be able to stop the person in time. The other is a cold and inhuman response to a person in need. The use of pills in a hospital bed or on the couch at home doesn’t make the reality any less appalling! The approval of proposition 2 by the people of Massachusetts would only open the door further to the degradation of the most unfortunate people in society. When you vote next Tuesday, will you be saying to the person on the bridge to come down, or to jump?