Assisted Suicide Requires the Right Authority

A 14-year-old girl from Boulder, Colo. was charged on April 30 with second-degree murder after shooting her father in an alleged assisted suicide.
After finding her father in pain from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, she allegedly shot him in order to help him commit suicide.
What seemed unusual about this case was that she did not call for help; it seems this girl was simply obeying a very intimidating father.
With a preliminary hearing coming up on May 25, this 14-year-old has a long road ahead of her.
Was this murder or assisted suicide? How can we be so sure that this girl is telling the truth? And when is assisted suicide ever OK?
This girl should have called 911 immediately after finding her father clinging to life, instead of taking the situation into her own hands.
Assisted suicides, like this one, where a seemingly physically healthy individual asks a loved one to help end his or her life is not acceptable.
Assisted suicides encompass a wide array of emotions (such as fear, love and sadness) with little rational thought.
With all these emotions, an adult put in the same position as this 14-year-old could be easily confused about what to do and act irrationally.
The 14-year-old girl loved her father enough that she must have been trapped with the emotions of being a daughter.
Since she was an obedient daughter, she did what her father demanded her to do.
Nonetheless, it should not be a 14-year-old’s decision to end a life like this. The girl should have acted more rationally and found a way to keep her father alive.
If someone decides to end his or her life because life is not going well, or because severe depression is overwhelming, we should not feel obligated to help this person die, but to help him or her live.
We should be obligated to put people back on their feet and not to keep them down in an emotional rut.
We should show this person that life contains so many other things that are worth living for.
In contrast, much more difficult complications arise when a loved-one is ill and a decision is forced upon a family.
This case of the 14-year-old did not involve a terminally ill or vegetative patient, one of the few situations where ending a person’s life is better than letting them live.
Take, for instance, the famous case of Terri Shiavo.
Her parents argued that she was still aware of her surroundings and still ‘alive,’ but she was in a consistent vegetative state for over 10 years.
She was gone, but her parents kept her body alive.
There was no doubt that she would remain in this state until her body finally gave up. Like Frankenstein’s monster, Shiavo was a living corpse.
Shiavo’s husband and doctors made the right decision based on rational thinking to let her finally die and let everyone move on with their lives.
Family members may have power of attorney, where they are given the legal authority to decide the fate of a loved one.
This difficult decision should be made with the advice of a doctor and should not be based strictly on emotions.
Doctors have to make decisions every day to let someone go on living in a severe condition or let them die in peace, but they have the proper medical authority to make that decision.
They are able to use their knowledge of the field in order to rationally decide if a person is worth treating or not.
Basing a decision on emotions over whether to let someone live or die, such as with Shiavo parents, is irresponsible and selfish. A person’s life is not worth continuing if, for example, family members just want to keep a loved one alive because they want to delay the grieving process.
Moving on with life will more often than not be the best decision for families.
Family members who move on will not have to stay stuck in denial for the rest of their lives.
If a decision to live or die is not based on a doctor’s decision or rational thoughts, then such a decision should not be made.
Assisted suicides, like the one in Colorado, are very complicated matters that can be easily simplified by making a decision to let someone live.

Julie Littman is a third-year literary journalism major.