By Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick - Director of EPC - International and HOPE Ireland.
Brendan O’Connor has thought about Bernadette Forde’s death more deeply than most. (Ireland’s Sunday Independent May 3 2015), though his conclusions are still wrong.
Forde was failed, miserably. But not by the lack of a euthanasia/ assisted suicide law. That is still the wrong answer to the right questions.
For a ‘big conversation’ about the complex subject of euthanasia/assisted suicide to work, it must be open, honest and balanced at all turns, not just in rare articles by more intelligent journalists - who still go badly wrong.
O’Connor chose to reinforce the dreadful idea that ‘this, or any disabled life is not worth living’. The vast majority of people with multiple sclerosis do not commit suicide or even want to (never mind the rest of us disabled people). It is not just because Forde was battling multiple sclerosis that she fell into despair, enough to want to commit suicide. By all reports, she had no real nursing care let alone very good palliative care; and she was isolated from her family apart from one niece.
Disabled people are a minority amongst those who come to suicide. Tragically, it is mostly younger, non-disabled men who find themselves in what is surely the loneliest place on the planet. But when we can we try to help them, prevent the ultimate act of despair.