Suicide – that is the question.

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By Rev. Paul N. Papas II

29 October 2012

I am totally amazed that voters are going to decide as to whether a form of suicide might be validated. Question Two on the Massachusetts ballot asks voters to decide whether the government should permit certain suicides, if a medical doctor assists the patient.

Having served as the liaison between NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and MCSP (Massachusetts Coalition for Suicide Prevention) was an honor. At the time I was President of a NAMI affiliate and Steering Committee member of MCSP. Every year we would lobby the legislature for funds to educate people about suicide and worked to prevent suicide. We conducted many workshops and conferences to educate, bring hope, and empower people to live.

There have been many times that I personally ministered to people who felt desperate and went on to live fruitful and blessed lives. There have been several terminally ill patients who I have been blessed to work with who knew their time on earth was drawing to a close and endured the pain as they lived their lasts days to the fullest. There is a difference between a person who has been told they have a certain time to remain among us and the rest of us and that is they have an end date and try to make every moment count.  The rest of us are making long term plans as we have no idea when our time will come. We are all only one heartbeat away from eternity.

Tahni Morell and her daughter Julia talk about the valuable time they spent with a husband and father despite a terminal prognosis in a Youtube video at

Most people who are feeling depressed or desperate enough to consider suicide give clues about their feelings. You can be the first step towards help for someone you care about by learning to recognize these clues to suicide risk.

Verbal Signs: “I want to kill myself.” “I don’t want to be here anymore.” “No one understands me.” “I can’t take it anymore.” “Things will never get better.” “I’m tired of being a burden to my friends and family.” “No one would miss me if I were gone.”

Acting Differently Changes in mood: more withdrawn, anxious or sad, or sudden mood lift after a down period; Changes in eating or sleeping habits; Suddenly taking more risks: not taking prescribed medication, drunk driving, ignoring physical limitations, having unprotected sex, using more drugs or alcohol; Loss of concentration; Withdrawing from friends and family; Losing interest in things that used to be enjoyed. Not planning for the future. Hurting oneself on purpose; Thinking and talking about death a lot; Unexplained good-byes or unusual personal expressions that have a sense of closure.

Situations: Recently having lost a loved one, relationship or job; Having money problems; Having questions sexual identity issues; Previous suicide attempts; Recent death of a loved one; Problems in an important relationship.; Problems at work or school; Social isolation.

Then there are several people who were told they had a few months to live….five, ten, fifteen or more years ago.

There have been people who discovered on the day of their surgery to remove a tumor that the tumor was no longer there.

Who knows the actual day they will die – only God.

The inability for doctors to accurately predict end of life is one reason to oppose Question 2 on this year’s Massachusetts ballot.

I know there are certain questions about the wording of the ballot question that would be disputed in the courts forever. I have a better idea why don’t we just say NO on Question 2 and avoid the Court battles. Some lawyers who be very happy to see Question 2 pass because they will earn a lot of fees.

The Supreme Court of the United States will not allow a state to execute a person who is incompetent. Being incompetent roughly means that the person suffers from a medical condition of a mental illness severely enough that he can not assist their Attorney in their defense. Often suicide is an action attempted by people who see no way out and suffer from a medical condition of a mental illness. Many people who do not complete suicide go on to live a healthy life and help others.

Since only God knows when our time on earth is over why don’t we just let God be God and vote NO on Question 2 November 6th.

Live is precious. Let’s spread a message of hope and Vote NO on Question 2.

Samaritians Suicide Prevention can be found at: http://samaritanshope.org/index.php

Helplines: Toll Free 877-870-4673, Samariteens 800-252-8336 and their 24 Hour Help Lines 617-247-0220 and 508-875-4500

The Massachusetts Coalition for Suicide Prevention can be found http://www.masspreventssuicide.org

Reverend Paul N. Papas II is a Pastoral Counselor with Narrow Path Ministries (MA and AZ) and Founder of the Family Renewal Center (AZ) http://www.narrowpathministries.org and http://www.familyrenewalcenteraz.org

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