Life is precious. You don't know it until you have either died yourself or came close or lost someone near and dear. I read about an eighteen year old being charged with manslaughter somewhere in America because she sent text messages to a fellow urging him to commit suicide. It is really not a good idea and she should have known better at that age but let the courts deal with it. I suspect she may have learned a harsh lesson and will carry that burden forever.
This is what is known as "assisted suicide" and is a crime in many countries. We learned of many such cases in the past. Here in South Africa, one fellow went as far as to load his .303 hunting rifle (she did not know how) and gave it to his wife to shoot herself. He even removed the safety catch when the first attempt failed (instead of stopping her). Eventually she pulled the trigger and the police arrested him on the spot. He was found guilty of manslaughter and I have to wonder what kind of husband would do such a thing? Or what kind of a wife will tell her man (this happened too) "to shoot himself and get done!" Obviously there is no love lost between them as the rules of love is clear (1) never do something to hurt the other and (2) always do what is needed to keep the other one happy. All the examples broke both rules. It is frankly disgusting.
So how does this compare to withholding treatment? I think if you speak to anyone who lost someone in hospital you would find incredible anger (they would not bother to speak to me if not) about useless treatment designed to make money. There comes a time when life ceases to be worth saving, the body gives in, the organs or whatever and no matter what the doctors does, it will not help. Your time is limited and you have no idea how long or how short that may be. Hence it is a waste of money to keep on doing tests etc and then expects to be paid but sadly, they are paid. I am sure if a pregnancy test is done on a ninety year old man whilst on his deathbed the doctor who ordered it will expect to be paid. It is a disgrace of note.
You have the right to a dignified death so it is possible that the doctors may stop treating you at some stage and let you go in peace. That is expected, not stupid tests etc designed to increase the fees payable to them. There is another reason too and if it sounds cynical, it is. That bed you occupy is needed for someone else who may be saved. As bad as this sound it is an age old tradition on the battlefield. If you are beyond saving the medics won't even try, they will concentrate on those who have a fighting chance to live. And it is harsh, many turns to drink because they played God. On the other hand it makes sense, some just cannot be saved.
However, no one is allowed to hurry you along without the law stepping in and that is what I am talking about today. I noticed that Facebook has two new functions; one is to appoint or nominate someone to take over your account after death. I cannot tell you how it feels when you see a dearest one, now departed to a better place, popping up the first time. It is a shock on your body and I have seen some throw up in shock. And you have to have the passwords to get into that account or argue with Facebook (and the others) for weeks to get them to realise it must be closed. So I would advise you, nominate someone reliable and get this done. It cannot stay open and alive forever.
Facebook also have a new suicide watch program which some are violently against. What it comes down to is that a friend will notice your postings are decidedly negative and "report" you. They will then intervene by looking at it themselves and if needs be, contact you to refer you to people who can help you. I have no problem with that idea and think it is a good thing. The privacy issues...well you know what, if you link and post anything on the internet you have to know your privacy is gone. There is also no real way to stop government from snooping on you no matter what encryption you use etc. If they really want to hack you, they will and chances are you will never know about it. Hence it is out of your hands once you did what expected in terms of firewalls, antivirus and antispam as well as encryption.
What you can change though and have full control over (in the eyes of the law) is what you post. Be very careful, I said this before and will probably do so again. What you post or text can and will be held against you. Even a picture which you think is an innocent joke may turn out to be hate speech. Those of us who remember the 1990s in South Africa will remember the screensaver found in police headquarters of the then president, Mr Mandela, which showed his face morphing into a baboon. As far as I know he laughed it off as well he might have, the man had a fine sense of humour but I doubt if the new lot would be that accommodating.
When it comes to suicide, by the way, the signs are always there. I have attended quite a few such funerals, many former policemen pulled the trigger and looking back, at each funeral we said "Yep, we expected this." Of course, you have another problem when it comes to these things and that is that some just don't want to be helped. They are so far gone that it is beyond human ingenuity to help them. By the way, I admire men who are able to make an end. Unlike many I believe that takes a certain amount of courage I don't have. That is not to say I approve, I just said I get what they went through. I do not judge, I feel compassion.
I doubt if anyone reading here has not at some stage thought that life is too hard and that the other side looks a lot more attractive. I know I had. However that is not an answer and it solves nothing. Yes I know, legally, when you pull the trigger and your life policies are older than two years they may pay out (they should, the cut-off date is two years, normally) but you are more important than money. You have a function in life, even if it for others to look at you and feel pity for the way it turned out for you. Life is a strange horse to ride, sometimes you are up and then you are down and in between you are somewhere. It cannot be all good, such things are not possible. Neither depends your happiness on money or what people say of you. Nah, it depends on yourself (it is actually hard work to be happy) and the grace of God. Life is precious, do not turn a blind eye and do not encourage death. The law will not take a kind view about such behaviour and you will regret it. If you really feel someone is heading the wrong way, take the time to get involved, don't encourage it.
Koos Kotze is a former member of the South African Police Force. He served between 1985 and 1991 primarily as a sergeant in the Pretoria Flying Squad. After leaving the Police Force he obtained the law degrees B Iuris & LLB at the University of the Free State (Bloemfontein, South Africa) and was a practicing commercial law attorney for eight years. He also wrote several books on business, law, counter terrorism and security issues. He is a widower and lives in Bloemfontein, South Africa.