Euthanasia: Respect and Dignity Granted to a Human Being

On May 25th, 2015, I biked to the top floor of a university parking garage, grabbed the safety wire facing the street, and prepared to jump. I looked down and calculated the distance I would have to jump laterally to avoid the terrace below. I counted the number of cars passing by at 1:00 am. I took notice of lights in the houses across the street to see if anyone was awake. I wondered how long it would take for first responders to notice my mangled body. I wondered if I would die a slow death by hemorrhage, or if I jumped head first, would death occur instantly by blunt force.

There is a sense of human dignity in choosing your death. No one can deny a soul who longs to die for a greater cause, and many in history before us have chosen that path. My decision at the time was not for a greater cause, but for my own personal satisfaction and the idea of having some type of control over my life. Both stories are significant. While someone may say choosing to die with no greater cause is selfish, others may argue that death is justified for the pain and suffering that an individual lives with.

Let me make my intentions clear: I do not like the concept of patient euthanasia under certain circumstances. A patient suffering for years on end deserves a peaceful death. But someone like me who chooses to die, with so much potential to give back to others, should not jump until every attempt to change, grow, and live a fulfilling life has been made.
Despite my conservative upbringing, Catholic faith, and personal battle with depression, I signed away my rights to patients the moment I chose to become a healthcare provider. I agreed to give away specific parts of my ability to control things so that the patient would have the final say in their treatment and cessation of treatment. The freedom to choose is one of the highest gifts of respect and dignity granted to a human being.

The freedom to choose is one of the highest gifts of respect and dignity granted to a human being.

I respect the patient’s decision to end their life, but only after every option to encourage them to live has been exhausted. I chose this field not to force my desires on others, but to serve. And sometimes serving to the utmost of your ability means letting them go, even if you see something in them they may not see themselves.

By Paul
California School of Podiatric Medicine
Class of 2021

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