Moshe Silman attempted suicide by self-immolation at Saturday night’s social justice protest. But witnesses foiled his plan, putting out the flames, and Silman was left with third-degree burns over 90% of his body.
On Monday, he was moved from Intensive Care to the burns unit at Sheba Tel Hashomer Medical Center, where doctors continue to battle to save his life.
The question is, why?
Part of the answer is obvious. Medical advances have made it possible to keep patients with horrific injuries alive, and doctors must use all means at their disposal to do so. Doctors swear an oath, and once presented with a case cannot and should not take responsibility for deciding who should and should not be saved.
However, two issues make Silman’s case particularly tragic. One, he wanted to die. The reason he chose such a dramatic method of killing himself was to create dialogue, a goal in which he succeeded admirably. His act also prompted at least two copycat cases, both of whom were stopped before they could set themselves on fire, but that’s another matter.
Second, even if Silman pulls through, what quality of life will he enjoy? As long as he draws breath, he will be dependent on others for care – exactly the situation he sought to avoid.
The doctors must do their utmost to save him, but perhaps it would be kindest to hope that they fail.