By Kevin R. Williams, B.Sc.
Someone once emailed me this question: “I am depressed and want to kill myself. Will I have to go to hell or reincarnate if I do?” My short answer to this question is that every action has many possible karmic implications resulting from that action. I believe the main factor related to this kind of question is: what is your motive for killing yourself? In this case, the motive is depression. Having suffered from bipolar disorder and extreme suicidal impulses all my life, I am aware of medications which can immediately treat these symptoms. Is the person facing a hopeless terminal illness and tremendous physical and financial devastation? Then I would say gaining control of your end-of-life situation to spare you and your family of unnecessary suffering might be worth looking into. There are certainly more factors to consider which should be evaluated on a personal and individual basis rather than on a general basis. The obvious reason suicide is regarded as having horrible karmic consequences is because of the tremendous grief inflicted upon surviving loved ones resulting from the suicide. On the other hand, sacrificing your life so that others will not suffer has much positive karma. Good examples of this type of suicide include Jesus volunteering to sacrifice his life on the cross or a soldier falling on a grenade to save his friends.
Table of Contents
- The Possible Injustice of Suicide
- An Individual’s Right To Life and Death
- Questions and Answers About the Right To Die
- The Possible Injustice of Suicide
Some people commit suicide out of hatred and anger in order to inflict pain and suffering on others. Such actions do have serious negative karma associated with them. The person committing the suicide will probably find themselves in a hellish condition in the afterlife. As the saying goes: hellish life, hellish afterlife. In such cases the person has created a hellish condition within themselves and within others by their act. At death, the suicidal person merely “steps into” this hellish spiritual condition they created during life.
All too often, people kill themselves without thinking how it will affect others. For example, my sister’s father-in-law was bipolar and in a serious depression when he killed himself with a gun blast to his chest. My sister was one of the persons who found him. The bloody horror she discovered inflicted great psychological harm to her which still affects her to this day decades years later. I once saw a documentary about a crime scene clean-up business where they dealt with the aftermath of suicides. It is often not a pretty sight to say the least. From my experience, the consequence of suicide causing the most damage occurs to the person who finds the body – especially if they are a loved one. The horrible “fallout” from such suicides need not happen if the person who wants to end their life (for justifiable reasons that is) first thinks very carefully of the consequences of doing so and prepares an end-of-life plan to create an outcome that does not traumatize people. The problem with this is that people who commit suicide often do it on impulse or, because of a severe mental illness, are too impaired or too desperate to think straight enough to create a successful plan.
- An Individual’s Right To Life and Death
It is not illegal to commit suicide; but it is illegal to actively help a person do so. For those people who are suffering from a terminal illness or advanced old age and who want to spare themselves and their family from tremendous pain and suffering, there is a right-to-die organization called the Compassion and Choices which has educational resources for people to plan and carry out their wishes. In states where voluntary physician-assisted suicide is illegal (i.e., every state but Oregon) they promote a method of suicide (which they call “self-deliverance”) that is painless and humane. Their method involves using over-the-counter sleeping pills and a plastic bag. Although it may sound bizarre, this method is not only painless and humane, it is 100% effective if one follows the instructions properly. The result does not create a horrible mess for someone to be traumatized over for the rest of their life. It is not a crime to be with someone who kills themself as long as they are not caught actively helping the person do it. Having a friend or family member present can also discreetly ensure the process is carried out successfully. Compassion and Choices also offers the service of having someone present to observe the process. Currently, right-to-die organizations advocate voluntary suicide only for people facing a hopeless and incurable terminal illness or advanced old age where extreme suffering is involved; but not for people with severe mental illnesses. As a person with bipolar disorder who has a psychiatrist that informed me how my condition may get worse and out of control as I grow older, I disagree with such discrimination against people with mental illness by the right-to-die organizations. However, I also understand how very controversial the whole right-to-die movement is politically and how providing help for the mentally ill conjures up “Nazi euthanasia” – especially among religious conservatives.
From some reports of near-death experiences I have read concerning the future, humanity will eventually be able to live long lives and die whenever they desire. This suggests to me that medical breakthroughs to help reverse the aging process may someday become available. It might even be possible that death by natural causes will someday be eradicated as polio was. If this type of utopia does occur someday – one where people have absolutely control over their life and death – I suppose then people will need a method to end their lives when they desire such as voluntary physical-assisted suicide.
It is Compassion and Choices’ mission to have voluntary physician-assisted suicide legally be available to people facing a terminal situation. In such cases, a physician can prescribe the necessary dose of a barbiturate (usually Nembutal or Seconal) that causes the person to fall asleep and die. This is what is called “death with dignity.” It is the same dignity society gives even to suffering pets when their owners have them euthanized. Of course, although pets are not euthanized voluntarily, many animals in the animal kingdom do voluntarily kill themselves under certain natural conditions. Self-destructive behavior is widely reported in nature for some animals under conditions of acute stress-isolation, overcrowding, confinement, or alteration in habitat. Such behavior has been observed in zoo animals including a variety of primate species. You can read more about studies on animal suicide in this article entitled Animal Models of Self-Destructive Behavior and Suicide (Crawley JN, Sutton ME, Pickar D. Psychological Clinics of North America 8:299-310, 1985). Such research proves conclusively how suicide is a natural act evident in nature.
If you believe you qualify for making end-of-life decisions (i.e., have a hopeless terminal illness) and you would like to die with dignity, you can become a member of Compassion and Choices online from their website. After you have been a member for several months, they will allow you to have access to their published information including the suggested end-of-life method.
- Questions and Answers About the Right To Die
The following are some questions on this topic and my answers to them:
Question: “The long explanation of a method for committing suicide leads me to believe you may belong to this organization for other reasons than helping the terminally ill achieve a peaceful death.”
Kevin Williams: “There are several reason I decided many years ago to post on the NDE mailing list the right-to-die organization’s suggested method for ending one’s life. My primary motive for doing this was to help anyone who was thinking about ending their lives get information on how best to do it. I have since learned this is considered unethical because it might provide an incentive for someone who is thinking about ending their life to do so without thinking about other options such as seeking help from a physician and receiving treatment. However, anyone who wants to end their life strong enough will do so anyway without the method suggested by right-to-die organizations. However, not knowing the ‘time honored and tested’ method to ending your life can result in absolute disaster and make your situation much worse. I also wanted people to become aware of right-to-die issues and to generate discussion about them such as we are having now.
Question: “Some time ago, I heard that you were very depressed and had suicidal thoughts.”
Kevin Williams: “Yes, you are right. I have bipolar disorder which ‘runs in my family.’ Along with this illness, suicide also ‘runs in my family’ as well. I have had severe episodes of depression resulting in long stays in psych wards. Such incidents not only caused me much suffering, it also caused my family a tremendous amount of pain as well. I want to be sure I have as many options to me as possible for the future. My psychiatrist informed me my illness will probably get worse as I get older and shock treatments may be the only effective treatment. This is what happened to my grandmother who had bipolar disorder and lived into her 90’s with severe regular depressions and shock treatments with frequent stays in mental institutions. She eventually developed dementia – a horrible illness for those who go through the last stages of it. Judging from her experience, I have concluded I never want to live so long to develop dementia and put myself and my family through such pain. Ironically, just knowing the suggested method for ending my life has given me more confidence about facing the end and has given me a feeling of having more control over my life and death. This has resulted in my having more hope in facing end-of-life choices which has given me more incentive NOT to end my life.
“I lived and took care of my grandmother for seven years before we sadly had to put her in a nursing home against her wishes. Her life in a nursing home was horrific. Anyone who has ever visited a nursing home can testify how some of them are nothing short of a warehouse for tormented old people. Many of these people, if in their proper state of mind, would probably rather be dead. I know this was the case with my grandmother. People with dementia are slowly reduced to losing their minds, memories and personalities, becoming permanently bedridden and mumbling incoherently. I was horrified as I watched my beloved grandmother go through this process.
“My grandmother lived in the nursing home for over a year before she died. Her death was not a pleasant one either. The bipolar disorder that tormented her all her life became worse with the dementia. She told me many times she wished she was dead. Ironically, she was a devout Christian all her life, taught Sunday School to children for over 30 years and led Sunday services for seniors at nursing homes as an adult. It seems to me the last years of her life of torture was incredibly unjust. In my mind, no amount of karma justified the torture she went through – especially because I suspect this injustice originated from the inhumane laws of society preventing people from voluntarily having the right to die with dignity. Even my grandfather (who I was also taking care of) – a devout Christian all his life – lost some of his faith in divine justice and the laws of society which prevents people from having the right to live and die as they choose to. As a postscript, when the time came for my grandfather to go into a nursing home, he absolutely loved it. However, he didn’t suffer from a severe mental illness, thank God! He especially loved all the attention from the nurses.
“The last years of my grandmother’s life was a living hell for us all – but mostly for her. Taking care of her also contributed to my developing a major depression which resulted in losing my high-paying job and spending time in the psych ward. And her unimaginable suffering was absolutely unnecessary in my view. My grandmother’s father, also a manic depressive, shot and killed himself in front of her when she was in her teens. All her life she was well aware of what mental illness and suicide can do to people and families.
“To this day I believe voluntarily helping her end her life would have been justifiably merciful. Throughout her time in the nursing home, we would pray God would take her away from it all. I even asked her physician if he could prescribe something to end it for her – something right-to-die organizations suggest doing. He replied to me in a holier than thou attitude, ‘We don’t do that kind of thing in this country.’ To many physicians, death is the enemy. Death means defeat. To many of them (especially those with a ‘God complex’) death is to be avoided no matter what the cost. And I mean this literally. I read a recent study how 40% of all hospital costs go to extending the lives of people in their final years. In the olden days, death was something to be glorified as a “graduation” partly due to religious influences. Death was well understood by most people because most people died at home surrounded by family and friends. Sex was the taboo subject – not death. In today’s society it has completely reversed. Sex is no longer a taboo subject – but death is.”
Question: “Tell me more about this right-to-die organization.”
Kevin Williams: “I initially joined the right-to-die organization because of my own mental illness to have control over my life and death. The years I spent watching my grandmother suffer needlessly in old age made me even more convinced that such people should be allowed to have the option of ending their lives if they choose to do so. I know my grandmother would have chosen death over dementia and the nursing home because she was a Christian and knew death meant being in heaven. I have vowed to never lose control of my life and death as my grandmother had. I also want to have this option available should I ever be diagnosed with a hopeless terminal illness. I see no advantage in living to an advanced age when life becomes a living hell for you and/or your family.
“Although I don’t believe depression, in of itself, is a justifiable reason for ending one’s life, I do believe there are some people who are hopelessly suffering from a mental illness and who should be allowed to end their life if they choose to. I have also observed people in psych wards with much worse mental problems than mine (such as schizophrenia) who have tried to end their life. Because of this, they are kept in institutions for very long periods of time – some for the rest of their lives. Mental institutions are filled with schizophrenics who are hopelessly unable to get relief from medical treatment.
“Should I ever have a valid reason to take control of my life by ending it, I will do so without any reservations. I have already informed my entire family of the possibility that someday I may decide to end my life. Right-to-die organizations recommend doing this many times because it prepares loved ones well beforehand so it would not come as no surprise (or horror) if it happened. I keep my loved ones informed of right-to-die issues when I can. Some members of my family are strongly opposed to this because of their religious affiliation and their right-to-life beliefs. Some people might conclude that by ending my life when I chose to do so, I will be throwing away an opportunity to pay some karmic debt of mine or may be giving up an opportunity to help others spiritually because of my diminished capacity. To this I say: I know of better ways to pay karmic debts which do not involve this kind of suffering on my or my loved ones’ part. Because I am not perfect yet (i.e., I cannot walk on water or raise the dead), I know I will eventually have to reincarnate anyway like most people until I am perfect. I can choose to pay such karmic debts some lifetime in the future. We have this power as sons and daughters of God.”
Question: “I wonder if there are not degrees to which suicide is justifiable in this world and in the afterlife. For example, if someone does it to avoid the pain of a terminal illness – or to end depression – or even to prevent themselves from having to spend a lengthy term in prison. Does the right-to-die organizations look at these moral/ethical issues or does it focus more on technique?”
Kevin Williams: “Right-to-die organizations do not advocate voluntary physician-assisted suicide for any reason. Their foremost mission is to change current laws to allow only people who want to die as a result of a hopeless terminal illness or advanced old age to have the right to have a physician prescribe the proper medicine to end their life. Ending one’s life with medicine such as Nembutal or Seconal is far more preferable than over-the-counter sleeping pills and a plastic bag. As the current law exists today (except in the State of Oregon where physicians do prescribe Nembutal and Seconal) all other methods for people to end their lives fall short of physician-assisted suicide. If someone wants to end their life strong enough, they will use whatever method have available – even if it is a very bad method such as hanging or shooting oneself. Currently, right-to-die organizations will provide educational material to anyone who joins; but they will not provide any other services such as having another member witness the process. Only people who meet their criteria are allowed that service. But it is the goal of right-to-die organizations to never have people use their method of over-the-counter sleeping pills and a plastic bag anymore. Voluntary physician-assisted suicide is preferred. Despite what some people claim, right-to-die organizations do not advocate involuntary ‘euthanasia,’ involuntary ‘mercy killing,’ or any other ‘Nazi euthanasia’ programs.
“I also don’t believe there is a ‘one size fits all’ karmic consequence for people who end their lives. Everyone’s particular situation, physical condition and spirituality is unique. The notion that everyone who kills themself goes to hell is about as absurd as believing only those who pledge allegiance to Jesus’ name go to heaven. While right-to-die organizations do not officially sanction physician-assisted suicide for the mentally ill, there are a large number of members who believe it should. Again, I believe the organization must take this position mostly for political rather than ethical reasons. Currently, right-to-die organizations are the only advocate for people who are facing a hopelessly terminal situation and want to end it before their situation gets worse.”
Question: “Many people have lived lives of horrible suffering and hellish conditions. Why should people facing a terminal situation have special rights? Shouldn’t this fact make all suicide unjustified and forbidden? I didn’t realize there are some suicides which might be justified and should be made legal.”
Kevin Williams: “It is the duty of society in general to help people overcome adversity and suffering. Anyone who has visited parts of Mexico, for example, can find poor children begging for food and in need of medical attention. It should be the duty of the Mexican government, religious organizations and aid-workers to help these people. In the same way, it is the duty of society in general to help anyone suffering – whether it is to feed and cloth the poor or to help those with terminal illness who have chosen to end their life. Unfortunately, society in general is mostly ignorant about end-of-life issues (until it ‘hits them in the face’) and are not in favor of physician-assisted suicide for those who need it. Ironically, this ignorant position is mostly held by religious organizations whose duty is to help those who suffer. As I mentioned before, a strong case can be made that Jesus himself chose “suicide by cop” to further his message.   Right-to-die organizations only seek legalization for people who have absolutely no hope in an end-of-life situation and want a way out. Some people have many other options to ease their suffering. Others have no choice but to live out the rest of their life in hopeless and unnecessary suffering. Many physicians today already help people in their final stage of their terminal illness with pain by giving them a massive dose of morphine called ‘snowing.’ The primary purpose is to ease pain but it also has the secondary benefit of hastening death. This is what happened to my father when he was dying of an infection related to lymphoma. The morphine kept him in a coma to the very end and certainly hastened his death which is what everyone wanted.”
Question: “Some accounts of near-death experiences describe people being told that it is not their right to decide when their life is to be over. This is a right that should only God’s.”
Kevin Williams: “Yes, I have read some of these reports. In fact, a great number of experiencers are told, “It is not your time yet to die” or some variation of this. On the face of it, it does appear that our days are numbered by God and the time of our deaths are predestined by God. However, this is not how I interpret it. First of all, many people are given a choice to stay in the afterlife or return to life. I believe there are very few things in life that are predetermined and the time of our death is not always one of them. I believe people are told, ‘It is not your time to die yet’ because their mission in life is not complete. It would be safe to assume that people facing a hopeless terminal illness have probably finished their mission. Even if you believe otherwise, should a person kill themself, they would probably be told in the afterlife their mission is not finished and they are returned. But because so many suicides by terminal people are successful, it could be safely assumed that indeed their missions were finished. But again, applying a ‘one size fits all’ answer to this question is probably not right.”
Question: “Has there ever been an NDE where they were told suicide was OK?”
Kevin Williams: “There are many reports of NDEs involving suicide that are heavenly and where no condemnation is given. Nevertheless, many successful suicides result in horror, grief, confusion, and shame by family and friends. This situation can occur if the suicide act was not planned and carried out correctly according to recommendations by the right-to-die organizations or if it was committed for less than justifiable reasons. Suicides resulting from NDEs obviously are rejected because they were told to return. Also, this does not necessarily mean all such NDEs are hellish as Angie Fenimore’s NDE was. Suicides resulting in irreversible death probably mean the suicide’s mission was completed. It may also mean their suicide was planned even before they were born. In other words, part of their mission may have included death by suicide. After all, Christian scriptures state clearly how Jesus himself was on a “suicide mission” from the day he was born. He also voluntarily submitted himself to death even though he could have prevented it. It is also true that suicide experiencers are sometimes told that suicide is not the answer. However, I don’t interpret this as applying to everyone. Even the Bible states:
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2)
“This certainly is true according to a large percentage of NDEs where they are told, ‘It is not your time to die yet’ or ‘your mission is not complete’ etc. So, I believe the time for us to die is not entirely in our hands. This suggests to me that if a person successfully commits suicide, then it was indeed their time to die. Otherwise, it will only end up as an NDE.
Many NDEs from suicide have been documented which are very positive. Here are some links:
a. Eileen’s positive suicide NDE
b. Chris Carson’s positive suicide NDE
c. Helen’s positive suicide NDE
d. Dr. Kenneth Ring’s NDE suicide research and Dr. Peter Fenwick’s NDE suicide research
e. According to P.M.H. Atwater:
“Seldom are suicide near-death scenarios hell-like. Contrary to popular notions, most suicide NDEs are positive, or at least illustrative of the importance of life and its living. Although I have yet to find a suicide experience that was in any way transcendent or in-depth, just to have something happen, anything that affirms that he or she is loved and special, seems miracle enough for the one involved. Near-death survivors from suicide attempts can and often do return with the same sense of mission that any other experiencer of the phenomenon reports.” (P.M.H. Atwater)
f. From the International Association for Near-Death Studies website:
“Although it may be tempting to conclude that people who attempt suicide are being punished for trying to induce their own deaths, we must avoid this temptation, as the following paragraph will explain.
“People who are in a distressed frame of mind at the time of their near-death episode and those who were raised to expect distress during death may be more prone to distressing NDEs. People who attempt suicide are almost always in a distressed frame of mind. Usually they are attempting suicide because they feel themselves to be in unendurable and unending emotional or physical pain. In addition, they are almost certainly aware of the widely held belief that suicide is cowardly and/or the wrong way to escape the pain of life. Although they hope for relief from their pain, they may also consciously or unconsciously fear punishment. In a heightened state of pain, as well as of fear and/or guilt, they are highly distressed and, consequently, may be somewhat more prone to having an NDE.
“However, the facts remain that the overall majority of distressing NDEs did not occur in the context of attempted suicide, Many pleasurable NDEs were the result of attempted suicide, and many people who were in a distressed frame of mind and/or who expected judgment and punishment during death had a pleasurable NDE.”
g. According to “Recollections of Death” by Dr. Michael Sabom, p. 51, the following NDE resulted from a suicide attempt:
“I arrived at some place where all my relatives had gathered: my grandmother, my grandfather, my father, my uncle who had recently committed suicide. They all came to me and greeted me…”
This NDE describes an uncle who committed suicide who was not in a hellish state.
h. From Dr. Kenneth Ring’s book “Heading Toward Omega” (page 44-45):
“In ‘Life At Death’ I compared the NDEs of three categories of people who differed chiefly in the circumstances that had brought them close to death: illness victims, accident victims, and suicide attempters. On the basis of my own findings, I then proposed what I called the invariance hypothesis to indicate how situations such as how one nearly dies affect the NDE. What the invariance hypothesis states is that there are no relationship: However one nearly dies, the NDE, if it occurs, is much the same.
“Research published since ‘Life At Death’ has tended to lend strong support to the invariance hypothesis. We now have cases on file of almost every mode of near-death circumstance that you can imagine: combat situations, attempted rape and murder, electrocution, near-drownings, hangings, etc., as well as a great range of strictly medical conditions – and none of these seems to influence the form and content of the NDE itself. Rather it appears that whatever the condition that brings a person close to death may be, once the NDE begins to unfold it is essentially invariant and has the form I have earlier indicated.
“Subsequent research on suicide-related NDEs by Stephen Franklin and myself and by Bruce Greyson has also confirmed my earlier tentative findings that NDEs following suicide attempts, however induced, conform to the classic prototype.
“In summary, so far at least, situations covering a wide range of near-death conditions appear to have a negligible effect on the experience.”
Question: “Were the people who jumped out of the New York City Twin Towers when the terrorists attacked justified for doing so?”
Kevin Williams: “I believe they were justified. They were doomed and faced a horrible death if they decided to remain in the Towers. It reminds me of the Jewish people at Masada who heroically took their own lives instead of being captured by the Romans.
“The lesson to be learned here is probably this: Don’t commit suicide unless there is absolutely no hope at all and your mission is not complete. If you don’t meet this criteria, your suicide may only results in an NDE which means your mission is not completed. If a person is in the process of dying because of a terminal illness, it can be safely assumed their mission is complete. If a person finds themself in combat and falls on a grenade to save the lives of others, we can probably assume their mission is complete as well. If you are a 91 years old invalid facing senility or a terminal illness, you can probably safely assume your mission is complete.
“As a side note, the rebuttal that nursing home caregivers are receiving good karma from people who may owe them a karmic debt, doesn’t hold water to me. There will always be a great number of needy people who can generate karmic goodness for toward caregivers.
“If a person is killed while defending their children from being raped and murdered, for example, we can probably assume their sacrifice for their children is good karma and their mission is probably complete. If a person is terminal and ending their life will spare their loved ones a tremendous amount of needless suffering and financial ruin, we can probably assume their mission is complete. Animals such as beached whales, lemmings, ants, bees and a number of other critters including insects chose to end their lives under certain conditions which suggests suicide in many cases is simply a part of the natural order. If a person commits suicide before their mission is completed, it may only result in an NDE.
“People often get killed while doing risky things that often appear to ‘fly in the face of God’ such as mountain climbing, sky diving, hang gliding, etc. These people put their lives in their own hands when doing such things. Aren’t accidents involving these type of sports a form of suicide? I believe so. Where is the line drawn? It would be difficult for me to believe that people who die while sky diving have not fulfilled their mission. Reports of NDEs reveal there are no accidents and there is a reason for everything. This is not to say everything is predestined. Life is filled with risks which have the ability to end our lives. Just breathing the air in some cities is enough to cause our deaths. Isn’t this a type of suicide? I believe it is. Isn’t even the act of being born, knowing it will result in death, itself a form of suicide? I think so. What about my fast food habit? Even this would have to be considered a type of suicide. Where is the line drawn?”
Question: “I just can’t assume there is any reason for someone to kill themselves.”
Kevin Williams: “You are certainly entitled to have this opinion. The problem exists when people other than the person facing such end-of-life decisions (usually a faceless bureaucrat) decides to deny others the right to control their own life and death. There are many well-intentioned people who actively seek to deprive others from having a good death — see the case of Terry Schiiavo. As mentioned earlier, such people often belong to religious right-to-life anti-abortion organizations. They constantly fight right-to-die organizations and seek to overturn laws passed by people who want right-to-die laws in place. I am referring to the State of Oregon where a majority of the voting people (with major help right-to-die organizations) passed a right-to-die law. But it took one unelected politician, Attorney General Ashcroft, who decided to go against the will of the people in Oregon by attempting to overthrow their law. Fortunately, Ashcroft’s edict was overturned by the Supreme Court.
“Right-to-die organizations want to educate the general public into changing laws which prevent heroic physicians such as Jack Kevorkian from going to prison for helping the terminally ill.”
Question: “So, when life gets difficult for some, they should be legally allowed to end it?”
Kevin Williams: “Everyone’s life is difficult for various degrees. I don’t know of anyone who is not facing difficulties in one form or another. It’s just that some people are facing much more difficulties than others. Many near-death experiencers become so disappointed of having to return they often fall into a depression. In fact, one study revealed 4% of all near-death experiencers commit suicide because of this disappointment. The most difficult cases whom right-to-die organizations support for voluntary physician-assisted suicide are the hopelessly terminally ill and the very elderly.
“I have never had an NDE, but after reading thousands of beautiful NDE testimonials, I have concluded that if I were to have a massive heart attack – for example – I do not want to be resuscitated. Several decades ago, a women by the name of Nancy Cruzan was thrown from her car during an automobile accident. It took about 13 minutes before the EMTs came and resuscitated her. Unfortunately, she never regained consciousness and was in a ‘persistent vegetative state.’ Her family knew Nancy’s wishes were not to be hooked up to a machine to be artificially kept alive. And it was only after a painful seven-year court fight that her parents were allowed to legally remove the feeding tubes allowing her to die. This event was the ‘spark’ which led many people to join the right-to-die movement.
“For people who do not want to be hooked up to a machine for the rest of their lives and want to refuse resuscitation, there are ways to prevent such things from happening. Most states allow people to have a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order in their living wills. Such DNR order mean that if you are in a supermarket, for example, and your heart stops beating, you will not be resuscitated. But this will only happen if you have a DNR order easily identified by medics. The problem with DNR orders is medics do not look for them when trying to resuscitate people. Fortunately, eleven states (including Colorado and California) permit DNR identification on jewelry obtained through the non-profit MedicAlert Foundation in California. Once a person has a placed a DNR order in their living will, they can join MedicAlert for a small fee. Then you mail them the last sheet of your DNR order. They will then inform you about your choice of necklace or bracelet which clearly states your wishes to “Do Not Resuscitate.” In some states, this jewelry and/or official papers are the ONLY methods honored by emergency medics. If such a notification is not present, you WILL be resuscitated. DNR orders can be obtained by any physician and are available upon demand.
“A tremendous number of NDE testimonies I come across involve the near-death experiencer becoming extremely upset of their being resuscitated and begin brought back to life by physicians. Such cases are another example where some ‘faceless second-party’ person in power decides when someone else must live and die.
“In conclusion, there are no easy answers to such end-of-life questions. Each person should follow their own heart. What I have explained in this article is my own personal opinion. You can take it or leave it.”