The media are society’s premier suicide pushers.

Oh sure, they decry suicides of teenagers and veterans. But they push suicide for the elderly, the disabled, the chronically and terminally ill–sometimes even, the mentally ill.

Canada’s CBC [Canada Broadcasting Corporation] is the latest example. It interviewed an octogenarian about his plans to commit suicide before becoming too old. Then, after he died, they ran the profile.  From the story:

A Toronto man’s decision to end his life, simply because he felt it was time to die, has raised questions and concerns among family, friends and experts, some of whom say it could take the assisted suicide debate down a “slippery slope.”

John Alan Lee, a former professor of sociology at the University of Toronto, died in December. He had carefully planned his own death for months and discussed his decision with a CBC crew.

Do you see how insidious this is? By going out with cameras and wide-eyed reporters to cover his suicide plan, the CBC actually validated Lee’s desire to die. Indeed, I would warrant it would make it harder to walk back.

How often have we seen this? Suicides are given high profile, even laudatory coverage. And the “experts” are quoted as saying we have to have the difficult conversations about permitting assisted suicide.

Then, once we do, the conversation is over forever because a new “right” has been created that can’t be taken away.

The CBC gives great respect to the idea that suicide can be “rational,” a dangerous meme in the mental health professions against which I have been warning for years:

Lee’s position reflects a broader philosophy known as “completed life” or “rational suicide.” The Dutch Parliament recently debated giving seniors over the age of 70 the right to euthanasia, regardless of illness.

The story even says Socrates embraced his own [rational] suicide as a way of avoiding old age–without mentioning that he drank hemlock in the context of a death penalty:

John’s philosophy that you choose the time of your death to avoid physical decline is controversial, but not novel. Centuries the Greek philosopher Socrates famously welcomed an early death, telling his followers he was avoiding the worst part of life.

The media’s favorable stories in support for the assisted suicide movement pushes ”rational suicide.” If suicide is a proper answer to human suffering, there is no way to materially limit what constitutes “suffering” for which suicide should be made available.

Beyond that, when the media promotes suicides, it pushes us–with malice aforethought, in my book–toward a suicide culture. That’s why the WHO Media guidelines urges media not to highlight particular suicides–it validates suicide and gives some readers/viewers ideas.

But media have taken sides on legalizing assisted suicide, big time!  So, WHO go away. Media will only refuse to glorify suicide or laud those who so died when it involves cases with which they disagree.

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Wesley J. Smith, J.D., Special Consultant to the CBC
Wesley J. Smith, J.D., Special Consultant to the CBC