Tuesday, November 17, 2015

People With Disabilities Are a High Risk Group for Suicide; Legal Assisted Suicide Discussed as a Contributing Factor.

By Margaret Dore

Thank you Stephen Mendelsohn, of Second Thoughts Connecticut, for providing this important
Stephen Mendelsohn

The State of Connecticut Suicide Prevention Plan for 2020 includes people with disabilities and chronic health conditions as a high-risk group (similar to military veterans or the LGBT community) and discusses assisted suicide as a possible contributing factor to the problem. The Plan states:
Until recently, the [Connecticut Suicide Advisory Board] CTSAB was considering assisted suicide of the terminally ill as a separate issue from suicide prevention. The active disability community in Connecticut, however, has been vocal on the need for suicide prevention services for people with disabilities. 
The Plan goes on:
There may be unintended consequences of assisted suicide legislation on people with disabilities. Peace (2012) writes that "Many assume that disability is a fate worse than death. So we admire people with a disability who want to die, and we shake our collective heads in confusion when they want to live.” People with disabilities have a right to responsive suicide prevention services. The CTSAB intends to continue to explore the needs of the disability community for such services. (Emphasis added).
Plan, p. 44.

The Plan concludes with "Targeted Recommendations,"which push back against the idea of rational suicide for people with disabilities:
• Do not "assume" suicide is a "rational" response to disability.
• Treat mental health conditions as aggressively as with a person without disability. (Emphasis added)