How dangerous is it to share knowledge about a suicide powder? | Belicons

How dangerous is it to share knowledge about a suicide powder?

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Monday 19 November 2018

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How dangerous is it to share knowledge about a suicide powder?

It has been a while ago that corporation Last Wil (Last Wish) has been in the media, because they wanted to distribute a suicide powder to their members. Nevertheless, the discussion concerning this suicide powder is not over yet. More than that, member of the board Petra de Jong puts this project in a larger whole and claims that the discussion on a suicide pill or powder has already started with Drion’s pill in 1991 and is still going on.

When I hear that last March the corporation already had about 23,000 members, I can imagine that this discussion is not over yet. But I also think that this is a dangerous discussion. Who would control the use of such a powder and makes sure that there is no misuse?

Nevertheless, De Jong thinks that this is a very important discussion. What are the arguments?

Arguments of Petra de Jong

  • It reassures people.
  • People have the freedom to control their whole lives, but not to control their own deaths. That isn’t right.
  • De Jong is willing to facilitate the distribution of this powder, because if people would order this themselves, then much poison will end up in the environment.
  • By having such a powder at home, people can make sure that they die in a good way. They don’t have to jump from a big building or in front of a train.
  • By adding a colour to it or making it bubble or making sound when it is added to a drink, misuse for a murder can be prevented.

Counterarguments

  • Rapper Ali B. asked De Jong whether they were willing to talk with people before giving them the powder. Suppose someone needs psychological help, then it would be terrible if they die unnecessarily. The corporation doesn't do that.
  • The 19-year old Ximena has found the powder based on what the corporation had already shared about it. She took it and now she is dead.

Watch the whole episode of Pauw on 26 March 2018 here. (Program is Dutch spoken)

 

Peiling: Het verspreiden van kennis over een zelfmoordpoeder is gevaarlijk

Peiling: Het verspreiden van kennis over een zelfmoordpoeder is gevaarlijk

Poll: It's dangerous to spread knowlegde about a suicide powder

Poll: It's dangerous to spread knowlegde about a suicide powder

Read the blog that goes with this poll https://www.belicons.nl/en/blog/suicide-powder

Body 2: 

It is clear that De Jong wants the best for her members en that she just wants to help people. If people claim that this powder reassures them and it gives them new energy to live, then, of course, I’m happy for them. Nevertheless, I don’t think that it would be a good idea to legalize distributing such powders or knowledge about it.

But in order to see why, we need to take a look at society as a whole and not to individuals who feel better because of it. Let’s take a good look at her arguments and go beyond the feelings of individuals, which is the perspective from which De Jong argues, but think of what this would do to society as a whole.

  • Reassurance

    De Jong makes clear that several people are worried about the future. I think that this means that they are worried about becoming demented and having to suffer without being able to do something about that. For that reason, people sometimes say that they want to take such a powder before that time.

    This fear is understandable, but I think that it is better to see whether this fear can be taken away in another way. In order to do that we should talk more about that fear instead of ways to die. What do people really fear and are these fears justified? Should things in society change so that this fear can be taken away, for example in the care for elderly?

    There are several reasons why I think that it is important to see whether there are alternative ways to reassure people about the future. First of all, if there are alternative ways then more people can become older happily. Second of all, De Jong thinks that this powder cannot be misused, but I think that she thinks to simplistic about misuse of this powder.

    She claims that they can make sure that this powder won’t be misused, but people who really want to murder someone will find a way to by-pass the colours, bubbles, or sounds. Moreover, we should also be aware of the fact that there are more reasons for people use this powder for other aims that it is meant for, what are also types of misuse.

    Like Ali B. already said, there is a change that people who are depressed take it, even though they should get psychological help. Moreover, suppose that some people want to get their inheritance, but their parent just doesn’t die. Then they can also seduce this parent to take the powder with all kinds of excuses, or decide to commit murder with it any way. Of the parent has this powder at his or home already, this is made a lot easier.

  • Freedom

    The other mentioned argument was freedom. We have freedom to control our own lives, so why should we not have the ability to control our own deaths?

    But is argument is false, for there are many limitations in our lives. If I would like to live in a villa, then I should have the money to do so, or else it won’t happen. I also cannot just walk into a company and demand to work there from now on; they should first hire me. Moreover, we should all pay taxes.

    Next to these limitations, there are various laws that are created to protect us, but they also limit our freedom. For example, the law concerning euthanasia and the law against helping people to commit suicide are there to protect people. We may not like that at all times, but without these laws it could happen that people die who actually wanted to live.

    For example, two years ago a woman was put to death by a physician who had written down that she wanted to die before going to a nursing home, but she also wrote down that she wanted to decide about this again before they would actually kill her. Nevertheless, the physician killed her without asking her to conform whether she wanted to die. Because of the law concerning euthanasia, a judge could say that this is not correct and other people can be protected against such carelessness in the future.

What strikes me most in this discussion is that the idea that each human being is precious and that it is therefore important to consider for each person whether he or she can live on with some help, is fully overshadowed by the fear for the future and the desire for more freedom. This is all about the fact that the medical science gets better and better, and because of that we get older, but at the same time, more people get weaker. We don’t want that to happen to us.

So that this discussion will continue is therefore logical. But I think that it shouldn’t only be about whether powders or pills that enables people to kill themselves can be distributed legally, but about how people can be helped to become old happily. Death should be the last resort and a physician should be involved, so that it is clear that there is no other way.

 

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