COMMENTARY | MSNBC/NBC News reports that controversial assisted suicide advocate Dr. Jack Kevorkian died Friday at the age of 83. Kevorkian had been hospitalized for the past month with kidney problems and pneumonia, and it appears he might have suffered a fatal pulmonary thrombosis.
When I heard about Kevorkian and the subsequent trial relating to him helping end the lives of those who were terminally ill, it made me think a lot about what I would do in that situation. I agree with what Kevorkian did because I have seen the result of being diagnosed with a terminal illness quite a few times in my life, and I have seen the pain it causes the person with the illness.
I had a grandfather die from brain cancer which began as lung cancer and ended up spreading throughout his body; it was a horribly painful and agonizing death, and I would not want to see anyone go through that situation. It hurt me significantly to see him in pain: Even high doses of OxyContin could not ease his suffering. I distinctly remember my grandmother calling out to God to come and take him so he was not suffering anymore. I also had a grandfather who died from lung cancer and his last few months were painful as well; he could only breathe if he was sitting on the toilet hunched over.
Seeing my family members die such painful deaths helps me agree with Kevorkian because he only assisted people who were terminally ill, such as people with Alzheimer’s and various cancers. Kevorkian helped those people die with dignity and helped them end their lives before they were unable to take care of themselves. I think that if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness and you want to kill yourself, you should be able to; Kevorkian was someone who stood up for these rights and his belief in dying when you want to on your own terms. After seeing what my own family has gone through over the years, I know that if I was diagnosed with a terminal illness I would want help from someone like Kevorkian because I know I would rather die than be in unimaginable pain.
Kevorkian made me think about assisted suicide not as murder but as a humane way to end the lives of those who more or less will become lifeless at some point. When we have sick animals, we often decide to put them down because we do not want them to suffer. Kevorkian was doing this very thing, except with people. Kevorkian also made me realize that no one should die a painful death, and giving people the means to end their life without pain is truly an admirable gesture. Kevorkian to me is a hero because he was able to take a situation we deal with way too often and turn it into something positive: helping to end the suffering of those who needed it most.
MSNBC Staff and NBC, “Jack Kevorkian, convicted in assisted suicides, dies at 83”, MSNBC