Assisted Suicide …what’s in a word.

28 Jul

This post is really a set of connected musings that wander in & out of my consciousness, sometimes seemingly at random & sometimes triggered by predictable events. Sometimes prompted by (on the surface) unrelated media articles etc.

It was a media headline (for an article I didn’t have time to read) about the worrying rise in suicide among the mid-fifties & upwards male population (my demographic). This headline started me thinking (unconsciously at first).

The first set of musings were around why suicide? Possible drivers/motives? To me the most obvious (from experience with suicidal thinking) is depression/no way out. Why would this age group possibly be depressed?
1) Realisation that they’ve got as far they can career/health wise? Frustration.
2) Family grown up & gone + spouse has developed their own interests & relationship isn’t what it was? Lonliness.
3) Given the ongoing austerity pension either non-existent, not available till later date or much reduced? Despair/frustration.
4) Having to care for (or organise care for) elderly/ill relative & realising just how mind-numbingly tedious being house-bound/confined to a home or bed-bound actually is & how deoressed said relative rightly is with their own powerlessness? Dread/fear.

The first thing to say is that these are my own thoughts & feelings but I long ago realised that I am not so terribly unique so there must be many others in my situation to a greater or lesser degree. I have several supports/coping mechanisms & whilst I do experience down swings & sometimes depressed phases so far I have passed thru them.

But having witnessed my dad’s deterioration from active, healthy elderly man (he’s now approaching his 90th birthday) to a bed ridden person trapped in a physical shell in a very good quality residential home I am increasingly convinced that I do NOT want this to be my fate.
Indeed if this is the end which most people foresee is in store for their elderly relatives & by extension themselves then I for one can understand their depression & desire to choose to die with some dignity & before they have become a burden to the society & to their children.

Which brings me to my final point the term “assisted suicide” is a deeply offensive term loaded as it is with all the societal stigma attached to suicide.
Surely the right to die when one chooses is as fundamental as the right to live as one chooses? Many cultures have permitted the old & infirm to walk away & die. Indeed one of the most quintessentially “heroic” of English stories is of Capt Oates of Scott of the Antarctic fame. Not to mention the crucifixion myth at the heart of our Christian religious belief where Christ goes willingly to his death for OUR SINS.
To deny others the choice of dying with dignity or clinging on till the bitter end seems at best hypocritical & at worst sadistic to me. I fail to understand the reasoning behind it unless of course its partly driven by the profits of the “elderly care industry”.
On a related note I have a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) letter in my wallet but here in Ireland the “caring” medical profession will blithely ignore my express wishes. This is my biggest fear that despite my expressed desire to NOT BE RESUSCITATED I will regain consciousness to find my self bed-bound & therefore incapable of escaping the long slow lingering death as experienced by my father & MOST IMPORTANTLY be a burden on my kids & take resources from my grandkids.

I have lived my life by and large on my own terms I DO NOT hold to the major religions, although I do pray & my thinking is grounded in Scottish Christian traditions. I have a daily relationship with a God of my understanding & if/when He decides that I die then that’s when I die hopefully quickly & of natural causes NOT prolonged by human interference. I DO REALISE there are contradictions in this position as there are with every religious doctrine I have studied.

I have made my choice it is NOT up to you to judge. If my God is displeased then we can discuss that in the hereafter (in which I most certainly do not believe).


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