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Monday, September 07, 2009

From the "Nouvel Obs", June 6, 2009

"Suicide des personnes âgées : les professionnels dénoncent l'indifférence"

(Translation "Mental Health Professionals Denounce Public Indifference to Suicide by Seniors"

Le diagnostic de dépression est difficile à faire chez des sujets âgés (Reuters)

Le diagnostic de dépression est difficile à faire chez des sujets âgés (Reuters) Clinical diagnosis of depression is particularly difficult to do with the elderly.

"Les personnes âgées se suicident en moyenne beaucoup plus que le reste de la population, surtout après 85 ans..

10 fois plus que le reste de la population"

The incidence of suicide among Seniors, (especially those over 85) is ten times greater than that of the general poulation. In fact, whereas 17 out of 100,000 persons in the general population commit suicide, 44 out 100,000 people in the 85-94 age bracket successfully terminate their own lives.

Isn't that awful? Or is it? What if suicide wasn't illegal - what would the figures look like then? How many older citizens would prefer a quiet, painless death to the daily routine of chronic pain, suffering, loneliness, ignominy and boredom that is the way it is for so many in their "golden years"? Perhaps it's time we reviewed our legal stautes and attitudes concerning the right to choose our time and method of death. Shouldn't we have the right to decide when life is no longer worth living? When "the game is not worth the candle" (This phrase relates to occupations, games etc. that were thought so lacking in merit that it wasn't worth the expense of a candle to create enough light to partake in them.) The Eskimos used to take grandma or grandpa for a walk in the arctic wilderness when old age had robbed him or her of the "joie de vivre" - we shoot horses don't we?

Not withstanding the recent brouhaha over the "death tribunals" , we must take this matter seriously and there should be public discussion and polite/civil debate on the issue. Oregon has led the way with the first bit of civilised legislation and perhaps soon other states will follow suit so that I can live out my last days in the company of my family. We also will need to develop the technology that quiet, painless transitions and the social services to assist in the process but obviously bearing in mind that a permissive public attitude towards assisted suicide be restricted to older (post 75) citizens who are still capable of rational thought and/or anyone suffering from uncurable, debilitating disease.
"It's time now, folks"


Vagabonde said...

Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment, I appreciate it. The subject of euthanasia is a very delicate one – it is legal in Holland as well as in Oregon. The people against it apart from those who are against it for religious reasons say that this might bring involuntary euthanasia – people who are afraid to be a burden to their families or be pressured by someone else for financial reasons. The people for it say that if someone is in terrible pain and terminally ill it is a violation of the Human Rights Act, article 3, (which states that everyone has the right to not be subjected to inhuman treatment) to prolong their agony. It is a difficult choice.

1000myths said...

I agree that the subject is as controversial as anything I can think of and it is precisely for that reason that we need to discuss it publicly and not avoid the issue as we are wont to do with anything that touches on death or dying. Yesterday on the Huffington Post, in reference to the current Health Care Reform Bill, someone suggested that we eventually have to consider triage for citizens over 80 with serious medical problems "if you need extensive medical procedures and you're over 80, you'd be on your own.
Pay for it yourself or..."
Wouldn't assisted suicide be a sensible alternative option? Maybe we could offer surviving spouses some kind of a compensatory premium. A real "death benefit".

Rain Trueax said...

Oregon only offers death with dignity to those who have 6 months or less to live. It's too bad it doesn't allow it for those who are in too much pain for have a chronic illness that they have decided (no pressure from society or family) does not make their life worth living. For now it's not there and with the fuss over even what is there, it's not likely to change soon. Religion still plays a big role in these things.