Teen Suicide Epidemic Puzzles the Netherlands: It Shouldn’t

From Wesley Smith email:

This is an excellent column by Colleen Carroll Campbell, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC). Apparently, a teenage “suicide craze” has hit the Netherlands and the government wonders why. But Campbell knows. The Dutch do “not seem to grasp the obvious,” she writes. “The law is a teacher and Dutch law has taught its young citizens well. The radical and sweeping embrace of suicide as an answer to the problem of human suffering, and the elevation of euthanasia to the status of a basic human right, has convinced Dutch teenagers that suicide must be a noble act, the kind that wins plaudits, prestige, and even legal protection.

“Adults can preach all they want about the evils of suicide to their teenage charges, but when asked why suicide is wrong for some people in some situations while fine for others, supporters of Dutch euthanasia laws will be hard pressed to offer an answer that passes muster with any reasonably intelligent 12-year-old. So Dutch children will continue to see suicide as a reasonable, even admirable solution to the difficulties of daily life. And the culture of death in the Netherlands will march on.”

This seems unassailable, to me. And we see the same paradigm beginning to unfold in Oregon where the Department of Health is worried about a spike in elder suicide. Either killing is an acceptable answer to human suffering of whatever cause, or it isn’t. Mixed messages don’t stick.

Comments

  1. Interesting observation, but there is no evidence of a “suicide epidemic” in the Netherlands. What happened was a few girls were discovered to be talking about suicide. That’s a bit different from actually doing it.

    I can’t find any recent numbers more recent that 1999 on the actual suicide rate (for teens or any other group) in the Netherlands. But as of that year they had one of the lower rates in Europe.

  2. Yes, the title writer needs a refresher course in correct title writing. Still, the trend is troubling. Culture shifts occur in small increments.

  3. “And we see the same paradigm beginning to unfold in Oregon where the Department of Health is worried about a spike in elder suicide. Either killing is an acceptable answer to human suffering of whatever cause, or it isn’t. Mixed messages don’t stick.”

    The usual disinformation about what’s happening in Oregon. Here are the facts:

    1) It’s the Department of Human Services, not the Department of Health.

    2) There has been no “spike” in elder suicides. The rate of elder suicide in Oregon has always been somewhat higher than the national average. But that has been true for years, long before physician-assisted suicide ever came along.

    3) In the 1990s, when PAS in Oregon started, the rate of elder suicide actually dropped, as it also did nationally.

    4) The problem with elder suicide in Oregon is basically a problem of older white males shooting themselves. It is less of a problem with other races, and very much less of a problem with females.

    5) In looking at the risk factors for elder suicide, research shows that “Physical illness has NOT been associated with increased suicide in the absence of clinically significant mood disturbance.” http://oregon.gov/DHS/ph/ipe/esp/docs/espyeates.pdf

    The problem here is not the existence of PAS, but elderly people who are depressed. And again, it has been that way for years, long before PAS came along.

    6) Oregon does have the 4th highest rate of elder suicide in the country, which means that three other states without PAS have higher rates.

    Fr. Hans, next time you want to post a right-wing piece about what’s happening in Oregon, run it by me first and I”ll help correct all the errors up front.

  4. Found some current data for the Netherlands:
    http://www.who.int/mental_health/media/neth.pdf

    The overall suicide rate in the Netherlands has in fact been trending down since the 1980s.

  5. Matthias the editorial is not about rising suicide rates. It’s about suicide trends into reasons why some are committing suicide. And the failure of psychologists/sociologists failure to grasp the connection to cultural trends. Posting numbers as a response only shows you can find numbers to post. It doesn’t address the article’s point.