Was Suicide Abetment Justified?

February 13, 2021

That kills himself to avoid misery, fears it,

And, at the best, shows but a bastard valour.

This life’s a fort committed to my trust,

Which I must not yield up till it be forced:

Nor will I. He’s not valiant that dares die,

But he that who boldly bears calamity.

- Philip Massinger, English dramatic poet (1584-1640)

It is interesting to discuss the justification for a suicide by the terminally ill persons when the decision is made with full mental faculties and without external pressure. A number of preconditions are laid down for such a literally life and death condition. What happens if the suicidal person is not terminally ill but wants to commit suicide because he is not able to live as per his idea of lifestyle? Then, his next of kin has a responsibility to prevent the person from committing suicide. But, we have a strange case of a daughter abetting in the suicide of her father who was not terminally ill. But, first the fact and the justification the daughter gives for supporting her father’s suicide, as published in an article in The Guardian, London.

Sir Edward Downes and Joan

When BBC conductor Sir Edward Downes and his terminally ill wife Joan decided to end their lives, their daughter Boudicca was one of the first to be told. She tells why she supported them. On Good Friday, 2009 her father rang her up in Rome to inform her that her mother had cancer. He said of the prognosis: “A matter of months, possibly weeks.” Then he just said, “So we’ve decided, we’re both going to Switzerland”. Her 85-year-old father and his terminally ill wife, 74, would travel together from their London home to the Dignitas Clinic in Zurich where they would be helped to fulfill their final desire – to commit suicide together. It was there Boudicca, 39, and her brother, Caractacus, 41, gripped their parent’s hands as each swallowed a single dose of a lethal barbiturate. Within minutes Edward and his wife were dead.

Boudicca explained why she had supported her parents, why she had backed not just the mother, who had only a few, painful months left, but also her father, who may have lived for a decade or more. “In my father’s case the issue is not the fact that you are about to die of a terminal illness in a certain number of weeks or months. It is that your life becomes unbearable because of physical and mental suffering. My father was not terminally ill, but he was 85, he had many health problems. He was in terrible, terrible pain and had been for a long time.”

Boudicca described how hard it had been for her father to lose his sight and with it one of his greatest loves - reading. “He was completely obsessed with books.” But it was not just his eyesight. In a room at Edward’s home, lined with orchestral scores and tapes, stood Edward’s piano – a painful reminder to Boudicca of watching as her father’s hearing began to slip away. Though he wore a hearing aid, it distorted the sound around him. “For someone with my father’s ear (for music), that was hard to bear…Having lived such incredible life, he couldn’t read nor could he hear…He didn’t have terminal illness, but without my mother his life would have been unbearable – he would have been utterly miserable. Ten years of misery –was that really worth fighting for after such a full life?”

The subject is also relevant in the current scenario when whole families, including promising young children with a whole life ahead of them, apparently forced or unsuspected poisoning, commit mass suicide. But, that is another topic by itself and for another time. But, readers are also welcome to stray into this aspect on the basis of their knowledge, observation and reasoning on the subject.

{The core of this topic essay is extracted from my website, “Welcome to Reason” which I ran for five years with a topic essay uploaded almost daily for five years.}

The subject is open to many views. What are yours? You are welcome to respond in the format given below (Please scroll down).


The Crab that Grabbed

A young lad of about ten years, whom I shall name Raju, living close to my ancestral farm, was crazy about fishing. One of the scenes of his action was a large talao (pond) on his father’s farm.

Representational image

Apart from fishing with traditional rod, hook and sinker during the day, he had buried a large earthen vessel at the water’s edge. When Raju’s household bought fish, especially prawns, from the market, Raju collected the unwanted residue and dumped in the uncovered earthen pot. Its smell, or stink, attracted the crabs and tortoises from the talao and after peeping into the vessel greedily jumped into it - never able to jump/crawl out. So, it went on and over time and Raju at sunrise collected a crab or two or a tortoise and took home to the delight of his mother.

One day three crabs got stuck in the vessel. Raju picked up two in his two hands. He reasoned that if the third crab is left behind, someone else would grab it.

Thinking fast, Raju put one crab in his komana (Tulu), casti (Konkani) and Langot (Hindi), a loose cloth to cover a male’s manhood. As he was going to catch the third crab, the one in the komana bit his delicate private parts in a vice-like grip.

Reeling in pain, Raju pleaded with a passing farm worker, Seshu, walking on the talao bund. She got very annoyed with what she thought was foolery and threatened to report to Raju’s strict father.

At this point Raju got an idea in a flash. He got into the pond’s water and untied his komana. The crab happily released its vice-like grip on the private part of Raju and a relieved youngster went home with only two crabs.

Is there a lesson in this? For me, don’t be greedy and don’t tease women – even rustics.

You can have your own say even on this rustic incidence. Come on!


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By John B Monteiro
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Comment on this article

  • John, Mangalore

    Sun, Feb 14 2021

    Jesus on western death culture, (US becoming another) communist state and punishments in a message to John Leary dated Wednesday, October 7, 2020: (Our Lady of the Rosary) Jesus said: “My son, I know that you pray your three rosaries every day, and you are united in prayer with Me and My Blessed Mother. You are now praying persistently for your President to be re-elected, despite his virus infection and all of the media criticizing him. He stands up against abortion and he truly fights for the welfare of your people in America. The Democrats support the death culture with abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia. They even support the communist mobs of Antifa and Black Lives Matter who are destroying your cities. If your country loses your President, you could become another communist state. You also are praying for the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court, which could help in stopping your abortion decision. If your country does not repent and stop your abortions, you could see even worse punishments for your sins. Keep praying for your country to remain free, and pray to stop your abortions.” Ref: http://www.johnleary.com/index.php/2020/10/?cat=3&order=ASC

  • Vincent D'sa, Dubai Pangala Parish Shankerpura

    Sun, Feb 14 2021

    Good topic for discussion. The critical point to be noted here is the approach to life in general. Euthanasia until now, mostly limited to EU/Western countries. They have an adventurous approach to life. Depending on someone for their daily need is not an easy option for them. They brought up with that mindset. In our country, such things are not widely known yet. We cannot compare the conditions in our country with theirs. We should allow the natural process to complete the way it is designed instead of terminating life just because we can carry out such things. I am very much a rational person. Even then, I feel the act of euthanasia is not justified.

  • John, Mangalore

    Sat, Feb 13 2021

    Using the name of so called freedom of relieving pain, loneliness, sorrows and hardships to self, to near and dear ones, to the society Euthanasia seems being widely promoted these days. Euthanasia, Abortion, Same Sex marriages are mainly communist chinese and socialist russians ideologies promoted to control population. Same seems being pushed across world in a greed of grabing world resources finally control of the world and rule by first communists then elite eugenics and their clans. Initially it looks good and enticing for general populace also easy way out but with their mind hardened by this ideology or with stony hearts these communist elites dont hesitate to bring viruses or associated vaccines, to much decimate elderly or children as these elite communist seems only want working population. The way things are going like this generation two children, next generation one child or mostly childlessness due to effects of vaccines, abortion, same sex marriages. Along with Covids... After 4 to 5 generation, most of the world resources will be only in the hands of Elites Eugenics and their clans. So for the elderly little burdensome but better to see future of children or grandchildren remain in this world till God calls one to get peace here also in the next life.

  • Rohan, Mangalore

    Sat, Feb 13 2021

    Dear sir very intense first half of the article. What I recall of my grandmother who was with me toll her last day of 94. She got cancer at the age of 92 but fought like a real fighter. Never she was unhappy or dejected even after the operation she was lively and joked. Even though she had many illnesses in the end she once in a while only said God why don't you remember me. Never have I seen any negative thought in her all thorough. The day she went to the ICU her last day she was at home. Though she was feeling weak she was determined to defeat her grandchildren at ludo. What I infer is different people have different levels of tolerance and it all may depend on the formative years. Also may be dependent on our later understanding of life. I am uncertain and unsure. One thing I can vouch is the people born in 20s,30s,40s are much more resilient than the ones in present generation. They have seen great life hurdles. I can only talk of people whom I have seen. My aunt and you are both role models contributing to the society with such youthfulness and vigour. If we do even a tenth it would be great. The second part is so hilarious and I could only laugh thinking what if the I would be in a similar situation and the crab not letting me go. Made me laugh all the way. Thank you for this thought provoking and stimulating writing. I rate this as one of the best among the recent writing of yours.

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