According to the law, suicide is illegal. And assisting someone to take their own life is currently illegal, as well.
We have all seen the newspaper articles about Jack Kevorkian and how he, time after time, “helped” others to end their own lives. The fact that they were diseased, dying, in extreme pain and trying to be masters of their own fate was beside the point. For many years our society has decided that suicide is against the law and that decision has not been amended here in Florida and, more to the point, not in Sarasota.
Given that it is illegal to take one’s own life and illegal to assist someone in doing so, what is the legal and moral culpability for those who watch someone commit that act and do nothing: to just observe and, when it is over, to walk away.
Here is your chance, right here in Sarasota, on Siesta Key, to watch a number of people attempt to commit suicide and to watch others assist them. Even more interesting, you will have the choice to say, “No, stop,” or to remain silent and then, later, read about their deaths. And worse, too, perhaps read about the deaths or injuries of others who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
On Tuesday from 5 to 7 p.m Aug. 20, at the Siesta Key Chapel, residents of the Sanderling Club gated community are going to request that the speed limit on Midnight Pass Road, between Vista Hermosa Circle and Sanderling Road (.4 miles) be changed from 40 to 35 miles per hour.
How can lowering the speed limit by 5 miles an hour lead to their possible deaths and the potential deaths and injuries of others?
First, the speed limit on Midnight Pass Road, between the Stickney Point Bridge and Turtle Beach, a distance of just 2.6 miles, will go from 25 to 40 to 35 to 40 to 35 mph. If anyone thinks people will obey all those changes, they are insane — and in the case of those committing suicide, criminally insane.
What is their stated reason for wanting to lower the speed limit? So they can ride their golf carts from the club to where they moor their boats on the bay. Sounds like fun (for them), but what will happen should they be able to do this?
Currently, drivers are clocked at between 30 and 50 mph in this area. Reducing the speed limit means drivers will be going anywhere from 30 to 45 mph. This leads to the second reason.
Usually, golf carts drive across roads, not along them. A driver on a county road going 30 to 45 mph is not used to rapidly coming upon a golf cart going only 10 to 25 mph in their lane of traffic. The result will be wild breaking, swerving and attempts to go around the golf carts by switching lanes without being fully aware of oncoming traffic — cars to the left and bikes (in the bike lane) on the right.
If these predictions are wrong, the only outcome would be Sanderling Club members having lots of fun. If they are right only once, then all those who approve, and all those who do not disapprove (not attending the meeting is a conscious act of silence), will be guilty of either assisting in the tragedy or of standing silently by and then walking away.
Rodge Skidmore is a Siesta Key resident.