Comments by Lilla Bertalan

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  • “The goal would be let the person know that you cared about them and you would miss them but to be open to listening to what they have to say. The effect is that often people change their minds. That for those who care about them is a pleasant out come as they still want their company.”

    Yes, it is pleasant in a way, but it doesn’t change minds. It just means they want to be notified, or if possible, invited to the event (which is why I have a boomeranged email for everyone who cares, a list of about a dozen people). If it’s more than that, it’s a threat. And threats most definitely do not change minds, though they can change behavior via intimidation. Nevertheless, I did lose some friends over this, having had to stop contact with anyone who wasn’t open to letting go.

    The other point was answered by Frank. (Thanks, btw.)

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  • Not everyone who wants to die is unhappy.

    And again, respecting death rights includes failure prevention (harm reduction). And there is the fact that people can still get prosecuted for being non-intervening witnesses (which does end up being cruel in some cases for the loved ones who have accepted the decision and want to be there when it happens).

    And why would the goal be to change anyone’s mind?

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  • Thanks!

    “Anybody who has been successful at suicide has put themselves well beyond the reach of any law that we know of.” – Well, of course. Hence my focus on failure prevention (harm reduction). And the fact that people can still get prosecuted for being non-intervening witnesses (which does end up being cruel in some cases for the loved ones who have accepted the decision and want to be there when it happens). So there is still a need for discussion I guess.

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  • What if they were MADE to regret it, by psychiatric treatment? Also, again, with the accusations of depression. No one asks the ones who completed it – and I would reckon that being determined makes it much likelier to be successful on the first attempt. Also, how do they know the decision was made within the last hours? Not many of us tell about having made the decision, for fear of intervention.

    Also, transgender people are a “tiny minority” too; does that justify hate crimes and discrimination against them, just because it makes the majority comfortable?

    Then again, if the 2A was actually respected, this wouldn’t even be a debate because we wouldn’t face the method availability problem.

    And again – if it gets completed, there is no regret. So why is it a bad thing again?

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  • Addressing some objections to my thesis that voluntary death should be respected as a basic right for all people.

    1. “This was the furthest thing from the minds of the Founding Fathers, and particularly from the minds of those who created the U.S. Constitution.” Oh, here is the “original intent” line of reasoning. On the face of it, this seems to have the most merit, citing quotes from the Founding Fathers that indicate they were not thinking of death rights when they spoke of unalienable rights. That may even be true. At the time, it wasn’t an issue on anyone’s political agenda – just like gay marriage wasn’t. It was not yet within the Overton window of public consciousness. However, when putting together the principles of the “great experiment”, they knew that if it is to be valid for another 300 years or more, it should be adapted and amended as new social and other issues are raised. As I said, no one was thinking of same-sex marriage when the laws allowing for interracial marriage were created, either – yet, these were used in the Obergefehl v. Hodges decision as a basis for extending equal marriage rights in 2015. Similarly, the argument that the right to life cannot be made into an obligation may not have been around in the 1770s, but in principle it still holds true. Bodily autonomy is the basis of all equality, and yet, pretty much all of these people we respect as the first warriors for equality were slaveholders. We no longer do that either, having recognized since then that slavery is a violation of bodily autonomy.

    2. “The Creator” cited as the source of our rights is not a “problem for the atheist”. This, again, has to do with the timeframe issue. Before 1859, only Deism was a truly defensible position, because there wasn’t any alternative explanation for the origin of humanity yet. More on this here: (Emerging from nature is not “emerging from nowhere”.)

    3. “I object to atheism, then, as a presumed reality with an enforcement wing (all ideologies eventually become militant, do they not?).” What is so “militant” about demanding evidence? If anything, religion has a power to enforce, we outsiders have none, so the assertion that atheism haas an “enforcement” wing is ridiculous based on demographics alone. Also, I obviously do not advocate for imprisoning people for having spiritual experiences – that was a strawman, deliberately constructed to attack my character instead of my reasoning. I even grant that some of these experiences have a basis in reality – it is by all means possible. But personal experience is by its nature – personal. What is one man’s experience is another’s hearsay. Until there is testable, repeatable, falsifiable evidence for the claim that there is any kind of spiritual realm, I cannot presume that there is one. There might be one, but neither of us truly knows that – not me, not you, not the spiritual guru, not the drug user, no one. All we have at hand is claims, supported by anecdotes. Should research be done about them? Of course. Should they be asserted based on unfalsifiable personal experience? Of course not! And are you seriously dismissing scientific standards of evidence as the mere establishment of a “playground” in an age where the same science has enabled our current way of life (including not having polio as a child, crossing previously impossible distances via aviation, having the free time and the tools – like computers – to have this very conversation, just to name a few things)? The toys from this “playground” demonstrably work. But even then, this is not enough to dismiss the right to choose one’s own time and manner of death. Even a spiritual experience can lead to opting for death, after all, so obstructing the choices of another person based on one’s own spiritual views is actually the “militant” thing to do. “I would urge anyone facing the choice to look into spirituality.” As I mentioned, I did so, albeit briefly and not fully on my own volition (it was mainly a result of sleep deprivation), but even if I didn’t – forcing people to “look into” spirituality to convince them to “disallow” suicide for themselves is just as coercive as the psychiatric practice you are so against.

    4. “Her ego had decided to kill herself, but there were whole parts of her personality that she simply wasn’t aware of, and that wanted to live…It was lucky for her that she still had the strength to snatch the rag off her face. Other people will not be so lucky.” Sure, there are cases where fear and survival instinct might surface and a last-minute change of plan is initiated. This is why I advocate for equal access to better methods, including ones that don’t allow for a period of altered consciousness and panic reactions to take place; while I do agree with you that the decision should not be made without careful consideratiion (which I have already done). The stories of people who changed their minds are the ones that get public attention, used – as you have used them – as an argument to discourage suicide on the whole. This has no more merit to it as the argument that lesbians “just haven’t met the right man yet” or that childfree and antinatalist people are going through a “phase” and their primal instinct of procreation will eventually triumph. While this does happen in some cases, it’s not all of them. Many people try again, after they have been “rescued”, by the way, so this argument cuts both ways. And yes, the prospect of becoming irreversibly crippled is the main reason that keeps me from trying again until I have access to a way that is reasonably certain and/or (non-professional) assistance that ensures there is no possibility for failure.

    5. “it is simply inaccurate to claim that suicide was even remotely considered a good thing by the ancient Greeks” – Good thing? Maybe not. Far less condemned and demonized than in current society? Definitely. And how about the Romans, whom you conveniently ignored? Most notably Petronius, who also chose this route for himself. As for cowardice and laziness, that is mostly personal opinion (and Epicureans would also dismiss it as such). I do agree however that our modern conception of rights did not fully exist back then. The idea of democracy does originate there, though, and it holds the beginning of the idea of rights – as an opposition to a nondemocratic system where the individual is unquestionably owned by his superiors, here we have the concept of the “consent by the governed”. Next of all, you want to prevent me from dying on the grounds that it’s “laziness”, even if we grant that me having my way might be “detrimental to the community” in some way? Dead people don’t pay taxes, eh? Do human beings only exist to serve their “community”? I think not. Also, do I need to bring up the fact that there used to be a far less fearful death culture? As evidenced by, say, numerous poets and authors expressing their comfort in mortality?

    6. ” For good reason, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism… and many other religions also honor the sanctity of life.” Enforcing such “sanctity” on the basis of religion is still a #1 violation, though, no matter which religion is cited as justification for it. Also, for good reason? What exactly is that reason? You never mentioned that, other than a vague “common sense”, which holds no water in a legal discussion. (Also, quite ironically, all of those religions, and others, have fostered murder campaigns, while preaching about the sanctity of life. Murder is also a violation of the right to voluntary death, because the right to die cannot exist without the right to live. Two sides, same coin.)

    7. “A person can only escape from something if that escape leads somewhere else.” False. Nonexistence by definition means that the undesirable situation is no longer being experienced.

    8. “it is nonsensical to argue that atheists appreciate life more than religious people because they realize that there is only one life, because most religious people also recognize that we have only one life to live on earth, and that it matters very much” – Some religious people might. But most religions include the assertion that there is life after death. Which literally means that life on earth is only a (small) portion of the whole life experienced by the individual. You honestly don’t see how that notion cheapens earthly life at its core? If this is only a dress rehearsal for the afterlife, that makes it far less important than if it is the only life we get. Of course, religious people may actually have doubts about that, whether they acknowledge it or not. (See also here: )

    9. “Self-annihilation is hardly a celebration of the self.” The act of self-annihilation in itself might not be seen as such, depending on one’s reasons to do so (for example, if one’s faced with the choice of existing as a forcibly modified, stunted version of himself, vs. not existing at all). But what if someone has already fulfilled what they could in life, and they have a plan for a “crowning act”, something that will establish and reinforce their legacy as an independent individual? Again, you ignore the fact that everyone dies; voluntary death is simply making a conscious decision about how and when that happens. (I wrote some poetry to illustrate that, btw, in case anyone is interested: )

    10. “we need as many opponents of psychiatry to continue to fight the good fight against coercion” Says the person who wants me to be coerced into living. You know that the only way to make me “reconsider” is to torture me until I give up on the very idea of dignity and, having my will broken, simply let others dictate how long I’m staying. If you truly respected my right to choose, as you say, you wouldn’t have raised objections to it, nor called me irrational for simply stating that I have that right. (Btw, G. K. Chesterton: “The free man owns himself. He can damage himself with either eating or drinking; he can ruin himself with gambling. If he does he is certainly a damn fool, and he might possibly be a damned soul; but if he may not, he is not a free man any more than a dog.”)

    11. The personal attack, calling me a “person of value”. I never understood this particular argument – if someone has “value”, that automatically means their rights need to be abrogated “for the greater good”? Also, how do you know what my value is to myself? You already have stated that I have no value to you (“your rational considerations don’t hold up to scrutiny”), and that my quality of life is of negligible value in your eyes (as long as I have my cats and whatever “to live for”, I must endure existence indefinitely, as you have argued), so what do you even mean by the “person of value” thing? You managed to contradict yourself. Speaking of which, you said “I defend your right to choose”, but then “I disagree with you that you can force people to believe that self-killing is a civil right” – first of all, I don’t want to force anyone to believe that, but it still remains a fact. I want my right to choose respected, not to be obstructed. That is what having it recognized as a civil right MEANS. You may believe that suicide is “bad” or that you would never choose it. You are completely free to believe that my choice is not one that you would make, and I have no objection for you choosing to live as long as you want. I truly respect your choice, but I damn as well demand that mine would also be treated the same way and without constant admonishment to “reconsider” or else! But this has been said before: “If you don’t like guns, don’t get one. If you don’t believe in gay marriage, don’t get gay married. If you don’t like drugs, don’t use them. If you don’t like abortion, don’t get one.” What I’m advocating for here is really that simple. (Also, I wrote about this before: and here: – specifically dealing with the “we need you alive” type objections in the second one.)

    Also, I apologize for having been cranky last night in my initial responses. This administration is already testing my patience; Hobby Lobby and Masterpiece as #1 encroachments, and now likely there’ll be a #2 encroachment attempt coming on, and the weed thing (#10), and …just…stop this evil already! There hasn’t been a day yet in this year when I didn’t think “You are ruining the country my ethics are based on, what in the hell is wrong with you?!”

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  • “One way you can strengthen the case that you are not being emotional is not to react in any emotional way to comments here. I shall leave it to yourself to determine whether you have done so. I’ll add that you have every right to get angry at people who do not know you raising niggling and possibly stupid objections; but you have no control, unfortunately, over how someone who is not inclined to be persuaded by your case might react to such anger. And surely you wish to persuade, and not merely preach to the choir?”

    Got a point there. This matter needs more thorough treatment and I most certainly will get back to it. I didn’t expect this article to even be put here, it took the admins about a month to get to it. And I was told it’s gonna be a friendly environment, which it proved not to be in the slightest. The slavery thing is interesting too, I know of a story about a former slave who said that if he were to be recaptured, he’d end it all right away.

    And yeah, I tend to react with anger when it is suggested that I should be subjected to meditative etc. experiences, I mean, you people are supposed to be against psychiatric treatment, and that doesn’t sound much different, from my angle. Also, the “you’ll change your mind at the last minute” jeer has also been used by a former family member, so I have an urge to prove it wrong already. Same with the “you have a pretty face so you shouldn’t have rights” kind of argument… But if I want to address the entirety of this thread, that will take a whole another article.

    So I’ll do just that.

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  • Why not? Because you do not dictate to me what I do. I don’t want to “prove” you wrong or change your mind. Your journey is yours. However, we are looking for different things. My mind might as well be closed, but that is none of your business.

    Also, I already tried “spiritual” experiences, years ago. So yeah, I already did that. Also had an attempt and it was not my fault that it failed, I got intervened on. That’s when I decided I’m not trying again until I’m pretty certain it’ll work.

    So there is no “harm in trying”. But there is in your threats. I already have my answer.

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  • One minor point: “not dissolving into nothing, but into everything”
    Cute and all…but that sounds pretty much like the same thing to me. Because “everything” as in matter can’t be created nor destroyed; but also “nothing” as in that particular configuration of matter that leads to personal consciousness is being dismantled.

    Also yep, the right to bodily autonomy does include refusing treatment (forced “care” is anything but caring).

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  • “I believe that injustice and the pseudoscience of psychiatry are to blame for your motivation to end your life” -That belief is wrong. I know just as well that mental illness is a myth, but I also know that different people have different abilities and talents. Some of which are rare, hence minority.

    I do not experience “emotional suffering”. Only anger when I read comments like yours.

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  • 1. I didn’t say single author, that was the editor’s addition. Original text of this article here:
    Also, look up the living document narrative.

    “However, most of your arguments, on a variety of levels, do not hold up to scrutiny”
    Or maybe you didn’t get the point. I may have “a lot to live for”, in your perspective, but you have NO right to force me to live as you see fit. Maybe you need to apply better scrutiny.

    “I hope that you will reconsider your reasons for self-killing” – I won’t. Period.

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