Suicide for People with Disabilities

Considering that this blog is primarily focused on disability policy issues, it is rare that I choose to step beyond analysis and thoughtful discussion of law and rights into the arena of personal opinion, particularly when it comes to specific controvercial issues.  However, the following news articles caught my attention and rather surprised me with my own emotional response.

Having been someone with a disability for almost 15 years and considering myself a successful and happy individual overall, I have to admit that it still shocks me when I see and hear people say things like, “I would rather die than live with a disability.”  It is more than shock, I find it disturbing.  Why?  Because it negates my entire life.  It is like saying everything I’ve done and everything I do now, as a person with a disability, my life, is meaningless. It isn’t worth living.

The following video is from Saturday on CNN. My apologies in that I haven’t completed a transcript yet, but I will get it up as soon as I have completed it. In short, the story is about a young man, 23 years old, who after being paralyzed from the chest down, a year later travelled to Switzerland to take his own life.  Why?  He didn’t want to live a “second class existence.”

Thoughts? Comments? Right now, I just wish the young man had had the opportunity to really talk to other people with disabilities. Those who’ve been there and who can relate and can let him know that there is so much more to living than just a “fully functioning” body. The waste, makes me angry and the fact that there is a debate around the issue makes me even angrier. The assumption is that without a fully functioning body, people (and people with disabilities) have nothing to contribute to society and this world.  

You can watch the video below and find out more at:


World Mental Health Day

Today, (October 10) is World Mental Health Day. World Mental Health Day is a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy. It was first celebrated in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH), a global mental health organization with members and contacts in more than 150 countries. The 2008 World Mental Health Day Campaign focus is on “Making Mental Health a Global Priority” for all people in all countries.” I had the pleasure of presenting at a symposium hosted by the WFMH and Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) on the role of consumers, families, professionals and citizen advocates in scaling up services for people with mental illness.

Mental disorders affect nearly 12% of the world’s population – approximately 450 million or one out of every four people around the world will experience a mental illness that would benefit from diagnosis and treatment. It is the leading cause of disability worldwide, yet unfortunately, less than 1/3 of those affected will receive any care or treatment. Mental health and mental illness is a part of every country, culture, age group and socio-economic status. The goal of the day is to raise awareness and educate the NGOs, governments, professional organizations and individuals on mental health issues and to encourage collaboration on efforts to promote positive mental health policies, practices and services in the United States and abroad

Disability Blog Carnival #47 – Policy

Day in Washington is exceedingly proud to be hosting Disability Blog Carnival #47 – Policy. There were a number of great submissions and as you can see, I got somewhat carried away reading the work of so many wonderful bloggers. I hope you will forgive my indulgence and definitely take a look at what everyone has to say. There is a Chinese proverb that says: May you live in exciting times. Well, that is very much the truth.


Amber and Lauredhel give us some insight as to the issues affecting women with disabilities around the world

I was really excited to read the first submission for the Disability Blog Carnival on “Policy.” It comes from Amber Smock and she is talking about her visit to Seoul and Women with Disabilities. Did you know that there are about six major women’s disability rights groups in Korea; three are Seoul-only and three cover all of South Korea? But what really fascinated me was the collaboration of these disability organizations with groups representing other disenfranchised people such as LGBTQ. Working as a part of the Anti-Discrimination Action coalition they were successful in passing a bill to cover these points and it has been effective as of April. Check out the details of her trip. Let’s connect when you come to DC!

Sexual Violence
Lauredhel submitted a post regarding a new Australian report on barriers to justice when rapists attack women with disabilities. All I can say is: Wow. What makes this information so groundbreaking is that it is the FIRST study that even asks about the experiences of violence and abuse from people with disabilities. There is NO standard national data collection that includes that information, despite evidence that approximately 20% of Australian women, and 6% of men, will experience sexual violence in their lifetime and based on my knowledge of research in the United States, I’m sure the percentages are much much higher for women with disabilities. As difficult a subject as this is (Caroline’s story made me furious), it is something that people with disabilities as a whole need to be aware of and is an area in desperate need for more advocacy.


Terri and Sarahlynn have their eye on the politics of Washington, after all, someone’s got to keep those politicians honest.

New Kennedy-Brownback Bill & a Taste of Politics
Terri, mother of three, wife of one, and ardent disability advocate talks about the passage of the Prentally and Postnatally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act (S. 1810) also known as the Kennedy-Brownback bill. It provides that families receiving a prenatal or postnatal diagnosis of Down syndrome or other conditions will be offered accurate and up-to-date information about the nature of the condition and also connected with support services. Her personal perspective really clarifies why this will (hopefully) have a strong impact on health care professionals who “should know better.”

Although not originally submitted for this Carnival, I could not resist but also point out another post where Terri Gets Political . I love her wry humor and sardonic wit as she points out the foibles of a political party’s efforts to “spin” Disability as an issue…in ways that were never meant to be.

Politics – Do Your Homework (And if you haven’t look here!)
Sarahlynn from Kirkwood, Missouri part-time writer and full-time mom (I’m holding out for a signed copy of your first mystery novel) submitted a post discussing her research on Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. When the Republican VP candidate stated, “And I pledge to you that, if we’re elected, you will have a friend and advocate in the White House.” Sarahlynn decided that rather than just take her at her word (What? People question what political candidates say?) she would do some research and find out EXACTLY what the various candidates had to say about disability. I would also highly recommend you check out Parts III and II of her series.


Disability is viewed a problem that needs solving, but it is the societal barriers that need addressing. Ettina and Kim give us some unique perspective on potential solutions.

Special Accommodations
Ettina of Abnormaldiversity, posts about Special Accommodations and Proving Disability and what follows is a thoughtful discussion of some of the difficulties and complexities related to accommodations. But not the issue you might thing. Ettina urges recognition that abnormalities should be treated as part of diversity, and points out that various accommodations such as curb cuts, elevators and talking walk-lights might be considered accommodations for everyone. Considering the benefits to society as a whole from those changes the model of “Prove you Have a Disability and then you Get an Accommodation” is outdated and inefficient. (And I love the example of “The walk-light to cross college drive is now on. Bee-dup.”).

Human Capital
Kim Greenblatt at “profitable” talks about something near and dear to my heart: money. Well, actually, the title is: Building Bridges, Dams and Infrastructure. The subtitle of the blog states that dealing with people with special needs, improving everybody’s quality of life and making a profit aren’t always exclusive. There is a lot of truth in that statement. We’re all worried about the current economic downtrend. What does that mean for us as individuals with disabilities, as Americans, as a nation? Kim’s answer is infrastructure. If the Federal government is taking the time to pour money into saving banks and savings and loans, how about pouring some money into saving us as people? Advocates often talk about the human rights issue associated with disability, Kim reminds us that there is an equally compelling argument to support our efforts, and this the associated economic benefit to society.


Amanda at Ballastexistenz talks to us about the fight for autism acceptance in the court system in Canada; Darrenh, reminds us, that no matter how high you fly, there’s always some stupid, discriminatory airline rule; Ziggy at the Wheelchair Diffusion Blog considers the fight for “stand-up” wheelchairs. And Ms. CripChick gives us the scoop about blindness organizations’ battle for media accuracy.

Autistics are Human Beings Too
Amanda at Ballastexistenz is celebrating that Michelle Dawson has won her case. Dawson delivered mail for 11 years. In 1999, she told Canada Post she was autistic. Within a year she found herself on unpaid leave, with the reason given that as Dawson had self-injured in the past she was a threat to her co-workers. The Tribunal found for Dawson and expressed that it found it unacceptable that autistic people be seen, because of their condition, to pose a threat to the safety of others and some form of nuisance in the workplace.

Mystery Policies
Darrenh at the Get Around Guide – the blog talks to us about policy, only it isn’t government policy, it is far worse…airline policy. We’ve all read about the outrageous incidents where people with disabilities are kept from flying for all kinds of inadequate reasons. Darrenh relates how Dragonair forcibly removed Rami Rabby, a blind foreign service officer working for the US State Department, because he switched seats with another passenger to be able to sit in the aisle seat. Jim Fruchterman has killer photos of the whole incident. Even when the law is on your side, you can’t give an inch.

Stand Up for your Rights?
Ziggy at the Wheelchair Diffusion Blog writes about a recent court decision that makes you just want to shake your head and wonder, “What were the judges thinking???” On September 24, 2008, the United States District Court in Vermont ruled that the “standing” option of a power wheelchair is not medically necessary and as a result insurance is not required to cover the option – nevermind that Mr. Durgin’s physician prescribed it as medically necessary. So, is it REALLY medically necessary, or is it more something that offers convenience? I have to admit, I couldn’t resist reading a second blog post on a Palm Pistol for people with disabiltiies. That’s right…Ahz gots me a gun.

Who is really blind?
Ms. CripChick, who is just your everyday queer disabled corean girl living in the south decided to give folks a heads-up about the new movie, “Blindness” and the response of the blindness community to what is perceived as an unrealistic and offensive portrayal of individuals who go blind. I have to admit, the movie upset me somewhat (the book is a brutal piece of literature and clearly allegory which you can’t quite do in a film) but the additional information that is truly infuriating is that in spite of the fact that there were over 700 background extras cast in the movie, NONE of them were blind performers, even though many blind extra players exist. And rather than get a blind technical expert (they exist, I’ve known a couple personally) they hired an acting coach who had interviewed a couple of blind people??? Take a look, Ms. CripChick’s got it all.


Not sure where these posts go. My apologies to those who submitted and my thanks for your consideration.

Emorevoke celebrates Nigeria’s national day/independence day. Such celebrations always bring about reflections of the state of the country, such as: “What’s next?” Or “Have we improved? Have we changed during the year? What has actually changed in our nation?” Emorevoke recalls the oppression and neglect of Nigeria’s past and puts out a thrilling call to action for the future – “We are a nation of great potentials and a lot of resources, please let’s join hands together and build our NATION.” It is our hope that people with disabilities will have a full role in the creation of this new Nigeria. Good luck, Emorevoke!

Simon’s post read a bit more like an advertisement and spoke more about athletics rather than policy but I thought that I would be a less than generous host if I did not include it. He also submitted a post on Wheelchair Quad Rugby.

Jeremy Burman from Advances in the History of Psychology submitted a post about the University of Groningen’s new 4-year research grant will be provided for a student of non-Dutch nationality to study the history of Asperger’s Syndrome. The position, leading to a dissertation about “the proliferation of Asperger’s Syndrome,” will be in the Theory & History of Psychology section of the Faculty of Behavioral and Social Sciences. If you have the interest you can apply here but do it soon, the deadline is October 27. Considering that Disability Studies is only in the last few years coming in to its own, it is heartening to see support for more detailed disability study. Again, although this is not a policy related post, it may be of interest.

Disability Blog Carnival #47 – Slight Postponement

Bloggers and readers please forgive me my tardiness. Unfortunately, I had a work-related emergency and so Disability Blog Carnival #47 will be posted tomorrow/today, October 10. My apologies to everyone. There have been some A-MA-ZING posts and really want to make sure that I do this justice.

So…keep your eyes on this site and be patient, your posts will be logged and noted and the final carnival posted. Thank you so much to everyone to contributed. I am proud to host this blog event.