Suicide Contagion is REAL and Assisted Suicide is part of the problem

Editor’s note. The following article was published by the Patients Rights Council and reposted at the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

The New York Times investigative team talks about a disturbing discovery on an episode of The Daily podcast titled “Kids Are Dying How Are These Sites Still Allowed?” and a companion article called “Where the Despairing Log On, and Learn Ways to Die” 

The podcast is about websites that exist online where people can access information about how to kill themselves. This information includes methods and recipes for lethal cocktails published by proponents of assisted suicide laws. According to the New York Times reporters, the websites function like social media platforms where users can interact and, tragically, encourage each other. 

Some of the stats listed in the episode are astounding. For example, the investigators report that one of these websites gets six million global views per month. That is four times the traffic of the National Suicide Prevention website. The reporters also mention that nearly half of the users on the website are under the age of 25.  

Jackie’s Story 

Shawn Shatto, one of the young people mentioned in the written article, took her own life in 2019 at the age of 25. She used a recipe published on the website discussed in The Daily episode, a recipe which was written by assisted suicide proponents. 

Shawn’s mother, Jackie, says “Talking about assisted suicide is very dangerous, especially when you have the younger kids on there and the vulnerable that feel lost and are in pain. I believe when Shawn went on that website and she saw the way they were talking about ending their lives saying ‘Well, you know, it’s okay to kill yourself over a terminal illness.’ She probably thought ‘Yeah, I’m in pain and I’m dealing with this, why can’t I die like that too?’” 

How Can We Prevent Suicide When it is Promoted as ‘Heroic’? 

Assisted suicide laws are dangerous to vulnerable people. The highly publicized assisted suicides that proponents promote and call “heroic” are having a contagion effect. Proponents, in their uni-focused drive to legalize, throw caution to the wind by glamorizing assisted suicides and calling it “courageous,” contrary to all media guidelines for reporting on a suicide published by suicide prevention advocates. They know that acceptance of their dangerous public policy drops dramatically if they don’t use their euphemisms and just call it what it is: suicide. 

Promoting suicide accelerates suicide rates and preys on vulnerable people, people like Shawn. It needs to stop.