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5 Reasons to Discuss Assisted Suicide with Your Teens

By Susan Ciancio

We know it can be extremely difficult to talk to teenagers about difficult topics like abortion, suicide, euthanasia, or other sensitive issues. At the Culture of Life Studies Program, we often have parents, educators, and youth ministers tell us that they want to have meaningful conversations, but they don’t know where to begin. That’s why we created our Conversation Starter series. We tackle those difficult subjects and give you all the background you need so that you can have a great conversation with your teens with as little stress or awkwardness as possible.

Euthanasia is a threat to life that is becoming more and more common every day. And assisted suicide is a form of euthanasia that is already legal in many states. With the help of experts in the field of euthanasia, we created our inaugural Conversation Starter on this topic because it’s one that is becoming all too common in news around the world. Below are five reasons why you and your children will benefit from this discussion.

Your kids look at you as their moral compass.

They may not ask your opinion, and they may seem disinterested as you try to teach and guide them, but your teens need you. Outside of parents, teens look to teachers, youth ministers, and other adults as well to help reinforce good values. They need the stability of knowing right from wrong. They need to be able to see both sides of an argument and come to the truth on their own, with guidance from you. Our Conversation Starter will help you guide them past the emotional aspect of the issue and will help them think it through.

Kids need to understand that life is not “over” because of a disability.

With so much emphasis today on “death with dignity,” it’s easy for teens to think that anyone who has a severe disability is a burden. How often have you heard someone say, “I wouldn’t want to live like that!”? Teens need to know that we are all born with dignity, and that we don’t need to die sooner than God calls us to retain that dignity. Our Conversation Starter helps you discuss the importance of focusing on what the suicide-minded person can do instead of what he cannot do.

The culture of death says that choosing death is a viable, and even a laudable, option.

Eight states (California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, New Jersey, and Maine) and Washington, DC have legalized assisted suicide. In essence, they are telling people that their lives do not have value and that care for them would be a drain on society and a burden to their families. Shows like 13 Reasons Why normalize suicide. Movies like Me Before You use emotional manipulation to make teens believe that death is preferable to suffering. News outlets sensationalize stories of people such as Brittany Maynard and hail her as a hero for choosing the time of her suicide. They paint a rose-colored death-room scenario where family is gathered, songs are played, and birds chirp peacefully. This is why we must stress to teens that the taking of our own lives is a grave sin against God and our fellow man. Our Conversation Starter will help kids understand that suicide should never be an option.

What your kids don’t know will hurt them.

You know that teens talk in school, on the ball field, and on social media about these issues. They may read stories on the Internet, see things on the news, or watch TV shows and movies that claim that it is okay, or even a “right,” to have a choice to take your own life if you suffer. We know you want them to know more. If you don’t teach them morality and explain what the Church teaches and why, how will they know? Our Conversation Starter uses the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Evangelium Vitae to help your child become more familiar with Church teaching.

All human beings are valuable. But not everyone believes that!

Our teens are growing up in a world determined to confuse them and convince them that their worth as human beings is related to what they can do, how popular they are, and how similar they are to their peers. We must tell them every day that they—and everyone else—are beautiful creations of Christ and that their value is not based on who they are or what they can do. Our Conversation Starter uses a real-life scenario to help your students see the value in people, even when that person may not have seen his own value.