Last month Vermont grieved the suicide death of Cheryl Hanna. An accomplished person, overwhelmed with pain, took the steps she felt were necessary to get the pain to stop. Too many others in our community are making the same decision. There will be much emphasis on finding ways to combat this tragedy, but I suspect we will not look in all the right places. We need especially to start from the top, where the policies are determined.
Laws change and affect behavior. We have seen that concerning drunken driving and smoking. Will we admit the same impact from our legislators’ efforts over the last decade to make suicide legal and approved?
It is formal state policy that killing oneself is an approved means of stopping pain and suffering, even just the fear of pain and suffering. Of course the law applies only to the “terminally ill.” However, why should we assume that the person overwhelmed by depression, who just wants the pain to stop, would take the time to read the fine print to find out that the approval is not for them?
Our governor and legislators have personal moral responsibility for the effects of the laws they promote. They share responsibility, to some degree, for these tragedies.
Gesualdo C. Schneider
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