Final Exit the Movie

A television station in Oregon recently began airing a new how-to video. This one won't help you to install a bathroom sink or prepare a gourmet meal, however. No, this new instructional guide is about suicide, and how to get it right on your first try. In 1991, Derek Humphrey, a founder of the Hemlock Society, published a best-selling suicide manual called Final Exit. Along with justifications for the act of suicide, the author identified the most lethal drugs, and offered tips on how to obtain them without a doctor's prescription. He even described how to mix a fatal dose in an easy-to-swallow concoction. Now, in its newly released video format, Final Exit, the movie, goes even further. Although Humphrey claims his advice is only for "self-deliverance of the terminally ill," he and the TV producers in Oregon are making it available to everyone—for the terminally ill as well as for those who may have just had a bad day. And let's remember, researchers tell us that as many as twenty percent of Americans suffer from some form of depression. Station managers claim they want to enable people "to make the hard decisions in their lives." But the truth is, people suffering from physical or mental anguish are the least able to make those decisions without intervention. As Pamela Cavallo, of the National MS Society puts it, "Many people who say they want to hasten death really want help with living." But sometimes they can't tell the difference. Airing this kind of programming sends a powerful and destructive message, telling people that suicide is okay. Critics and advocates alike believe it will increase the number of suicides in that state. Portland psychiatrist Gregory Hamilton says, "For people... on the edge, it pushes them over." Suicide was the eighth leading cause of death in the United States in 1997. Among young people 15 to 24, the suicide rate doubled in the last decade. Fortunately, most suicide attempts are unsuccessful. But television advocacy will likely make suicide attempts not only more frequent, but much more successful. What started out as an impulsive act, or as a desperate cry for help, may now lead to irreversible tragedy. What we need to see is that this is where the slippery slope of Roe v. Wade has brought us, with its easy acceptance of the culture of death. Not only have we become insensitive to the deaths of millions of unborn babies, but, more and more, we've ceased to value our own lives. The answer to suffering, of course, is not death—it's care and compassion. Now, the law can't provide that, but it can encourage it. Right now, Congress is considering the Pain Relief Promotion Act. This important new legislation promotes palliative care to relieve the suffering of the terminally ill and bans the use of federally funded drugs in doctor-assisted suicide. We need to support these kinds of initiatives. And you need to be prepared to speak out if you see that your local cable station may be thinking about airing this dangerous video. As Christians, we must also remember our calling to comfort the afflicted in a world that turns so quickly to despair. We need to be ready always to share Christ's love with those in need of hope and healing.


Chuck Colson



  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary