Have rights to medically assisted suicide

Ng Shu Tsung


LETTER | Malaysia should emulate Singapore in the decriminalising of suicide. Pushing it one step further, a citizen should also have the right to die via medically-assisted suicide under certain circumstances.

Looked after elderly people until their death is physically and mentally exhausting once the dependent loses the ability to walk and do basic tasks to take care of personal hygiene. I should know after looking after some elderly relatives.

One relative conveyed that he wanted to go away sooner when he lost the ability to stand and walk but we are bound not to fulfil his wish as it is akin to murder under the Penal Code should anyone assist another in a suicide attempt.

Instead, the family prolongs his deteriorating quality of life whenever critical medical situations arise. Things get worse day-by-day, being bedridden in agony for many months before passing away.

There is a guilty sense of relief when the relative dies as it means that he is no longer in pain and that the caregivers are also relieved of physical and mental exhaustion.

The right to suicide under certain circumstances should not invalidate insurance policies. However, in most insurance policies, the sums payable are withheld if it is determined that suicide is the reason for death.

It is certainly unfair for anyone who wants to die to continue to live in pain and agony until the last breath. There is no reason to want a long life of suffering. In certain developed countries, medically-assisted suicide is legal under certain strict criteria.

Granted that checks need to be in place to counsel the sickly or disabled patient who wants to die so that the system is not abused. We must have an open mind to study how to decriminalise suicide in a holistic manner.

At the same time allow for medically-assisted suicide as advocated in some developed countries. This right must be available to each and every person in chronic and constant pain when drugs no longer provide a comfortable relief or in any dire situation that leads to a situation where they are unable to take care of themselves and need 24-hours supervision.

If I am inflicted with an incurable illness which lead to a painful existence, then I would like to die before the illness ravages my body with severe pain. My wish to die also extends to a situation of being physically-disabled such as being paralysed from the neck down rendering me unable to perform any functions and being totally dependent on other people.

Surely there are many who would rather die sooner than live to the end enduring endless suffering and they should have the choice to decide to end it sooner. Therefore, there should be rights for medically-assisted suicide under the appropriate circumstances.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.