As a parent who lost his son to suicide nearly three years ago, and has since worked hard to prevent other young people from taking the same action, I would like to correct one mistaken notion expressed in Tom Keane’s Aug. 26 op-ed on physician-assisted suicide (“Kevorkian comes to town”). Near the end of his otherwise thought-provoking piece, Keane suggests that suicide is considered to be a “fundamentally selfish act.” Scholars who have studied suicide have a very different perspective.
In his book “Myths About Suicide,” one of the nation’s leading theorists on suicide, Thomas Joiner, states, “If the idea that suicide is selfish is mistaken but plausible, the idea that suicide involves excessive self-love is an absurd flight of fancy, unmoored from reality.”
Suicide is a complex subject that is misunderstood by much of society. Keane’s comment is merely one example of the misinformation that is commonplace.