Thank you so much for the discussion on this extra sensitive subject. It is so difficult to be objective on it.
In Christopher Reeves' biography he tells the story of how he wanted to commit suicide when he found out he was paralyzed. His wife told him he could, but he needed to wait a year first. By the time a year had passed he had decided that he wanted to live, so it was a mute point, but I often wonder if she would have supported his decision if he had still wanted to end his life. (She would have had to be an active part of his suicide....so that makes it a little different.)
Choosing to not continue life support or not get medical treatment isn't suicide. Also, having a traumatic event and commiting suicide in a panic isn't good. But we aren't talking about either of those scenarios, right? We are talking about an adult making a thoughtful adult decision and if we should respect that decision.
Does suicide hurt the people who are left behind? Definitely. It is devastating. Is it more devastating than other decisions we make as adults? Two years ago I chose to commit "spiritual suicide" in my dad's eyes by leaving the family religion. That was completely devastating for him and he has experienced a lot of pain because of my decision - maybe more pain than if I was actually dead but still faithful. But the decision was mine and I had to make a choice for myself regardless of how it may have hurt others. If I could go back in time I would still leave the Mormon church even though it hurt my family.
Mom has a "Do Not Resusitate" order that she keeps in her purse. If she went to the hospital and I was on the phone with her doctor, I really hope I would respect her wishes. At this point I don't know if I could get past my own selfish desire to have more time with her. Would I tell the doctor to dig through her purse to find the order or would I keep it to myself? I don't know. Hopefully if it happens I will support her decision - she has always supported my decisions.
Well, I don't know if you read my post, but my desire to commit suicide wasn't a panicked reaction to a traumatic event. It was the result of years of deep insecurity and depression without a moment of relief. It was a suffocating kind of pain that I dealt with every. single. day. And even if I had been an adult instead of a teenager, I wouldn't have expected anyone who cared about me to respect or support my decision to kill myself. And I would now thank anyone who did anything to help me from making an ultimately hurtful and final decision.
As far as your mom's Do Not Resuscitate order, like you said, choosing not to get medical treatment isn't suicide.
Thanks to everyone for sharing their differing perspectives respectfully. :)