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NSCIA's Position On Assisted Suicide

As the longest serving organization devoted to meeting the immediate needs of individuals and their families after a spinal cord injury, we at the National Spinal Cord Injury Association are both deeply saddened and outraged by the recent "assisted suicides" of a 21-year-old college student (February 1998) with a viral infection impacting his spine and more recently, a 26-year-old weight-lifter and motorcycle racer paralyzed from the neck down. We are saddened for the young men and their families and outraged at the social context that makes assisted suicide an attractive option in such a situation.

In general, most of the people who sustain spinal cord injuries are young men. They are most often at a point in their lives when their self image is premised upon their physicality. In fact, many are injured during activities that might be considered expressions of that physicality. All too often, these young men have not had the educational background to prepare themselves for the life ahead of them, much less the life experience to cope with such a significant event. However, they can and do learn that their life continues to be worth living if they and their families are provided with the appropriate supports. That is the goal of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year.

The National Spinal Cord Injury Association (NSCIA) provides information and support services in the critical period after a person sustains a spinal cord injury while they are still in the hospital receiving acute or rehabilitation services. We provide information about life with a spinal cord injury, operate a toll-free hotline for individuals and their families and friends at (800) 962-9629 and provide peer support and counseling services linking people with others in their communities who have gone through an injury and successfully adapted. These are some of the core services NSCIA provides for newly injured people. Our ongoing membership network provides support and access to information, advocacy and other services.

No one should go through a life-changing event such as a spinal cord injury alone. No one should feel that life with such an injury is not worth living. No one should feel compelled to resort to assisted suicide as a solution. This choice is an indictment of the health care and social support systems in our communities and in our nation. Assisted suicide is not a tenable option. Depression can be treated. Pain can be controlled or minimized in most cases. Life continues to hold promise. Our society cannot afford to lose the talents and perspectives of those among us who are different. We must do better. Please join us in getting the word out that there is a better way. For more information, please call:

John Fioriti or Glenn Thompson at (781) 933-8666
Mick Countee, our National Drector, at (301) 588-6959


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Related Article:
NSCIA Urges Supreme Court To Ban Doctor-Assisted Suicide, March 4, 1997


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