The ‘Zero Suicide’ Project Forgets about Assisted Suicide

By Wesley J. Smith

It rarely fails. I see a news story lauding a suicide-prevention program. But when I check it out, the prevention strategies described are usually incomplete, making no mention of — or opposition to — assisted suicide, even though some see legalization as a contributing cause of our nation’s suicide crisis.

Recently, when I read about a commendable program called the “Zero Suicide” project, I hoped it would be different. You see, it focuses explicitly on preventing suicide in the health-care context.

From the website:

The foundational belief of Zero Suicide is that suicide deaths for individuals under care within health and behavioral health systems are preventable. It presents both a bold goal and an aspirational challenge.

Great. But how can you have “zero” suicides in health care if assisted suicide is legal and doctors facilitate those deaths? I searched the website, and alas, as far as I could discern, the issue is never mentioned.

What a disappointment. The Zero Suicide website even features a video of Michael Hogan, Ph.D., discussing how to “make healthcare suicide safe,” but which fails to mention the question of doctor-prescribed death.

Indeed, the well-meaning gentleman assiduously avoids the controversy! He describes preventing suicide in the ER. He describes preventing suicide in primary-care departments and in mental-health wards. But he never mentions preventing suicide in hospice, oncology, or other health-care specialties that deal with terminally ill and disabled people who are identified as proper candidates for suicide-facilitation by the euthanasia movement.

I am certainly not criticizing the goal of this program. It’s important work. But Zero Suicide will only to be true to its name and purpose when it incorporates opposing physician-assisted suicide as part of its overall prevention strategy. Zero suicides in the health-care context either means all, or it really means only some.

Editor’s note. Wesley’s great columns appear at National Review Online and are reposted with the author’s permission.