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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"