She was 85-years-old, financially well off and healthy — both mentally and physically. So why did Oriella Cazzanello travel from her home in Arzignano, Italy to a right-to-die clinic in Basel, Switzerland in February 2014 where she committed suicide with the clinic’s help.
Her family had no idea she was planning this. They only found out about her decision after they received her ashes and death certificate from the clinic.
The family hadn’t heard from her since the end of January, which initially didn’t concern them because Oriella was independent and often travelled. But when the silence dragged on, they phoned the police to express their concerns.
So why did Oriella want to die?
According to ANSA, an Italian news agency, one of the major reasons for her decision was because Oriella was “‘weighed down by ageing and the inevitable loss of the looks of which she was proud’
Her worries about her appearance and her inability to stop the effects of ageing caused her to take her own life.
According to reports, Oriella paid about $15,000 to the clinic. Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, even if the person is not suffering from a terminal illness. In fact, a study at the University of Bern discovered that 16% of the assisted suicides at the clinic were not related to health issues.
It is interesting but three months before Oreilla’s death, Lycra — a fabric manufacturer — commissioned a study to find out how much time women spend worrying about their appearance.
They discovered that women spend 627 hours and 28 minutes each year worrying about how they look. This works out to 1 month each year and 1 hour and 43 minutes each day.
If you subtract 8 hours a day for sleeping, women spend nearly 11% of their waking day worrying about their appearance. This does not include other issues, such as family, marriage and finances.
Speaking on behalf of Lycra, Michele Duncan said:
“… to think women are spending such a large amount of their time concerned about their appearance is surprising”
In their study, researchers asked 2,000 women to track how much time they spent thinking about their appearance. Here is a breakdown of some of the things women worry about. The time estimate is based on a week:
- Women worry about their weight 1 hour 46 minutes per week;
- Aside from worrying about their weight, women spend 1 hour 26 minutes trying to coverup those bulging areas;
- Even those without a weight problem spend 22 minutes a week worrying about whether they are too thin;
- Women spend 2 hours 22 minutes worrying about their complexion and even skin colour. This include spending 56 minutes on skin spots, 50 minutes on even skin colour and 36 minutes on a tan or lack of one;
- Women spend 57 minutes on general hair unease including what their hair will look like when they wake up in the morning — the frizz effect;
- Though women only spend 50 minutes a week trying to decide what to wear, they spend 1 hour 32 minutes second guessing their decision;
- Women spend 1 hour 1 minute worrying about feeling bloated
Worry is a burden
According to the newspaper, Oriella was “weighed down” by her declining appearance due to ageing.
Proverbs 12: 25, says:
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down,
But a good word makes it glad. (NASV)
Worry is a weight. It’s a heavy load that can crush a person’s spirit. But worry is also a hidden burden. It is not something people will necessarily notice. People may see glimpses of it, but like an iceberg much of the real worry lies below the surface.
But it is weight that God never intended humans to carry. Throughout the Bible Jesus repeatedly warned about worry and even addressed worry about appearance when he asked, “why do you worry about clothes?” (Matthew 6:28).
But the Bible gives a solution:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6 NASV)
We need to take our worry to God while being thankful for what we have. We need to purposefully take our mind off our situation and look at the good things we have.