…why they feel the way that they do. It is hard to fight an ideology that we can’t even engage with. This is one of the many reasons that I think the wider disability community needs to start being more accepting of and dialoging with the people in our community who contemplate assisted suicide, because they exist in opposition of wanting death solely because of disability. The add a viewpoint that actually reinforces and maintains the concerns of people campaigning again…
Absolutely. The inclusion of disabled voices who have contemplated suicide only serves to put the lie to the idea that “some people really do want this”.
The main issue (among many) that I have with the “better dead than disabled” trope is that it almost exclusively portrays a beautiful, physically active person who is struck down by a catastrophic accident or illness and whose decision to commit suicide is portrayed as a sort of coldly rational rejection of their disabled body. There’s a sense that they are making a strong and noble choice to take agency over their body.
Wanting to commit suicide because of disability is not a noble act of self-sacrifice, nor is it driven by some sort of self-interested aesthetic rejection of one’s disabled body. It’s a decision born out of immense physical and psychological pain, that is influenced by a myriad of personal and social factors (including yes, access to meds and research for effective meds, but also outdated clinical logics that mean most people wait more than five years for a correct diagnosis — never mind an effective treatment, and the loneliness that goes hand in hand with stigma around perceptions of laziness, hypochondria, addiction, etc.
Examining and including these stories not only opens up the community for people who are in an immense amount of pain, but also underscores why abled representations of disability are doomed to inauthenticity.