In The Media | 3 August 2016

When the NDIS becomes a lifeline

I support the right to assisted dying, but I also worry that people will look at me with my crooked and paralysed body and make that decision for me. The support provided by the NDIS ensures people like me also have the right to live, writes George Taleporos.

A young teenage girl’s decision to throw a party before she turns off her ventilator has capturedmedia attention and sparked debate amongst disability advocates. Her name is Jerika and she has a degenerative physical disability and chronic pain.

Suicidal ideation is not uncommon amongst teenagers in fact we know that suicide is the leading cause of death for young people in Australia.

So let’s think about what happens when we add disability. Young people with disabilities have few role models, their self-worth is constantly under attack by negative media representation and they are far more likely to be socially isolated and excluded from their peer group.

Now let’s add some chronic pain. I’m talking about inescapable pain, the kind of pain that you sought treatment for, even surgery, that made it worse. The drugs don’t work for very long, and you get addicted and you’re not sure if the withdrawal symptoms are worse than that pain was to begin with.

Then someone tells you about God and an afterlife where you will be free of pain, free of the body that you’ve grown to hate.

Choosing death seems a logical solution. Killing oneself seems like the right choice. So say the media coverage. So say the online commentary and tweets.

So what happens for those with painful and severe disabilities who want to live? Will they be judged for making the wrong choice?

Source: The Drum