# Assisted suicide - thought?

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by High Voltage Blonde, Mar 1, 2012.

1. ### Mars RoverBannedBanned

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To the OP.

Ultimately people do what they want in moods and crises. It's the hope of a better future that dissuades suicide unless the intial impulse is strong, sudden and the means is too easily at hand.

In assisted suicide debate, it all depends on case by case basis and probability of reasonable life, likelihood of cure or manageability. When unbearable pain and gross loss of individuality and dignity is there, then someone has to make a decision either way for the sake of the affected person, which trumps all other things.

That is my personal views on that.

3. ### siledreRegistered Senior Member

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487
this may get me labeled as a loon but I get the impression suicide is illegal because the medical profession wants to keep you going so they can get as much money from you before you die as possible.

5. ### BowserLife is Fatal.Valued Senior Member

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When my sister-in-law was succumbing to her cancer the medical professionals provided her what they called "comfort care," a morphine drip. I should also mention that my other sister-in-law had breast cancer, and without the help of modern medicine, she wouldn't be with us now. That being said, I have to recognize that the miracles of modern medicine are expensive. I think I would prefer to die in my own home and in my own bed, but the drugs would be nice, too.

7. ### Fraggle RockerStaff Member

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Every medical professional--from the ambulance drivers to the nurses to the radiologists to the surgeons--has a built-in directive to save lives. It's what gets them up in the morning and keeps them going in the face of all the pain and death and suffering they see every day.

So it's hard to blame them for being uncomfortable with the idea of helping someone die. I can forgive them for that and you should too. Mrs. Fraggle and I have both worked in hospitals (social worker and computer programmer) and we've got nothing but the kindest sentiments for those lovely people. Well most of them anyway. There's a few assholes everywhere.

My problem is with the "elder care" institutions. Some of the top-end places have nurses on duty, but most of them are staffed by people who are not medical professionals and don't have a medical professional's outlook on their life and their job. And worse yet, they're administered by accountants rather than doctors. They get paid for every day a resident lives there, so it's to their advantage to keep them alive as long as possible.

My mother had a "no tube feeding" order in her file. But the administrators knew we were 600 miles away, so we weren't up to date on her condition and we were in no position to drive or fly down to L.A. every time there was a problem. So they tube-fed her against her own wishes. Just about the time we were able to arrange a trip down there to kick some butt, she got some food in her lungs from the tube-feeding and died from the infection. Talk about irony. Meanwhile they happily sucked another two weeks' boarding fees out of her.

This is what bothers me. If the resident or his family is paying for the services (which is seldom less than $100 per day and can easily be more than$200 depending on the extent of care needed and the cost of living in the particular city), that's money they were hoping to be part of their estate, and to bequeath it to their grandchildren for college. But for most people a lot of it is paid by insurance, which means we're all paying for it. And for an increasing number of elders a good portion of it is covered by state and federal programs. Which means, once again, that we're all paying for it, in taxes that we'd rather see go to less crowded schools or rebuilding our crumbling bridges or fixing the escalators in the subway stations or beefing up our power grid or even simply paying down the national debt.

So please don't blame the doctors. America is run by bureaucrats and they're taking the money.

8. ### BowserLife is Fatal.Valued Senior Member

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Senior care is worthy of a topic all its own. One of the worst experiences of my youth (14) was when I worked in the laundry room of a senior care facility. The staff were very unprofessional and I felt terrible for the residents. I swore to my parents that I would never put them in such a place.

9. ### Fraggle RockerStaff Member

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You have to plan very carefully, far in advance, in order to fulfill that promise. What other options are there in the USA?
• Put them in a top-end version of "such a place." They'll have on-site medical staff and be treated like family, with lots of companionship and entertainment or other activities suitable for their conditions. This will cost you at least \$5K per month, each, and more than that if you want them close enough to visit instead of some place in Wyoming where wages and land prices are low.
• Move them into your home. You can establish your own standards of care. Your motivation to keep them company (at the expense of your own free time and, eventually, your sanity) will make them about as happy as they can be. You'll still have to hire at least two caregivers to cover 24/7 duty but you can select, train and supervise them so they won't have to be highly-paid professionals. Maybe just one if you let him/her live on site--if you've got any room left now. This is probably your cheapest option. But if they hang on for more than two or three years your wife may get completely fed up and move out to some place where she can have a life of her own that isn't submerged under an overlay of despair. And you'll probably need to pay for intensive psychotherapy during all of this and for five years afterward.
• Take them offshore. Many countries have established identities as destinations for retired Americans, and retired Americans who need 24/7 care will surely be their next move as the Baby Boomers (who have not been taking very good care of themselves despite the jogging, yoga and organic food) start to crap out--a lot of them are in worse shape than me already! You'll only see them once or twice a year and you'll have to trust the standards of an alien culture. But since you're already familiar with the standards of American nursing homes you might be pleasantly surprised to learn what your dollars can do for Mom and Pop in Thailand or Costa Rica--places where respect for elders is ingrained in the culture and people enjoy socializing with other people much more than we do.
• If they're independent souls who feel the way I do about being trapped in an institution, do what my aunt did. She bought a plot of land in the Arizona desert 30 miles from the nearest town and had a mobile home set up on it. When she fell three months behind on her electric bill the power company sent some guys out to find out why. They found her in bed with a book in her lap, a box of chocolates on her night stand, and a big smile on her face. Perfectly mummified by the desert climate. Unfortunately I have already lived in the Arizona desert and I'll never go back.
I don't know how old you are, but perhaps society's attitude will change as caring for aging Baby Boomers starts to suck up 75% of the country's GDP. Maybe assisted suicide and even unassisted suicide will become palatable to the voters. Especially since we old folks vote and those aging Boomers will soon make us the majority.

10. ### BowserLife is Fatal.Valued Senior Member

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I think most parents want to be independent, but that's not always possible? My brother and I are looking at the issue now. He almost bought a large home with the intent of housing my mother with his family. But that deal fell through. She's getting old but still has her mind. Assisted living might be an option in the future providing she's not helpless. I do worry though.

11. ### Fraggle RockerStaff Member

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24,690
There are indeed many people who live in their own homes, more-or-less independently, until the day they die. But the odds of any of us being one of those people are not high. Alzheimer's is the leading cause of death in mature adults so unassisted living will simply not be an option for most of us.

Then he should review Bullet #2 in my previous post. The "reunited extended family" may be a fabulous living arrangement from the perspective of the elderly grandparent (or great-grandparent), but it's very likely to be a nightmare for every other member of that family.

Medical science has done such a great job of keeping us physically healthy and active, that statistically the mind is most likely to be the first component to break down catastrophically. In most cases it happens so slooooowly that people pretend it's not happening and just try to cope. Then one day one of the family members reaches his breaking point and says, "Either she goes into a home next month or I'm emigrating to Macedonia and taking my paycheck with me."

The odds are stacked against her--and you.

Unfortunately you live in a society that pretends that this is not a problem. From your comments I gather that you're in your 40s. So it will be on your watch that the Doddering Baby Boomers become a problem too big to ignore--while, awkwardly, at the same time they become the dominant voting bloc.

The 1946-64 Boomer generation has been uncharitably summarized by its critics in a single word: selfish. On top of that, they're in lousy physical shape and their generation is very unlikely to produce the next Jack LaLanne. Maybe you might not want to wait for this train wreck to happen? I would politely suggest that "worrying" isn't going to cut it!

While I'm on the subject, it's time to once again share the slowly-spreading news that the way to deal with Alzheimer's patients is to communicate in writing. Reading and writing is a skill we in the West overlearned and it's one of the last to be lost. If you write a note to Aunt Doris and hand it to her, after reading it she will remember what you said much longer than if you gave her the same information orally. And on top of that, she still has the note and she can read it again!

BTW, I don't mean to be quite so hard on the Boomers. Born in 1943, one of the tiny cohort of "War Babies," I had a choice to align with them or with the older Depression Babies. Since I preferred Elvis Presley to Frank Sinatra, it was an easy choice. Rock'n'roll, motorcycles, the Sexual Revolution, the (slooow) demise of racism, the peace movement, the acceptance of recreational drugs (by everyone except the government), the ascendance of science and intellectualism (outside the Bible Belt), the environmental movement... all of these great things were brought to you by the Baby Boom generation. But we probably should not allow the fabulous civilization they helped build to collapse under their dead weight.

12. ### CheyenneRegistered Member

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sui: Latin for 'self' , cide (cida) Latin for kill. The very term 'assisted suicide' makes no sense. It is either a benignant killing (legal or not), or a malevolent quashing (legal or not).

13. ### seagypsyBannedBanned

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1,153
I think assisted suicide should be legal. It gives the patient the opportunity to face death on their own terms. I think you should have to prove a case for justification of suicide but in the end if it is determined that the desire to die is rational and justified then why deny the patient a last request of dignity. A farewell ceremony could even be arranged. Something like a funeral that the soon to be departed would be there to witness. So they get that one last chance to see all those who love and care for them. And everyone gets that chance to tell them what they have always wanted to say.

I would much rather face eminent death on my terms. Have a going away party. Settle all my emotional affairs with those who I will be leaving behind, then shower and get my make up on so that I can die looking good, rather than with a bunch of tubes coming out of me futilely clinging to what can never be permanently mine anyway. This way my estate, if I manage to have one, can be dispensed while I am still alive eliminating the hassle of kids fighting over inheritance.

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15. ### seagypsyBannedBanned

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It's sad that we will afford our pets the dignity of not having to suffer prolonged suffering but we don't allow that to the people we love. I am impressed with Switzerland for making it legal. That lady was happy in her last moments, who are we to take that away from her by forcing her to suffer great pain up until she dies naturally?

16. ### BowserLife is Fatal.Valued Senior Member

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It made me feel gloomy. I've stood over three deathbeds and none of them was a happy occasion. Death is a very somber thing, not to be taken lightly.

17. ### seagypsyBannedBanned

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I too have stood over a deathbead and watched the last breath taken. I saw my great grandmother die at the age of 91, unaware of who she was, just a shadow of who she was many years before. She didn't know who I was and she was wearing a diaper. Something she always insisted she would rather die then have to do. If she could, with her formerly sane mind, see the state she was in she would have been furious, humiliated, insulted and embarrassed. Why should she have to suffer the indignity of a slow agonizing death?

In her case, yes it was gloomy. But in the case of the woman in Switzerland, I felt inspired by her will to greet death cheerfully like an old friend rather than have it pick away at her body til she completely lost her sense of self. she was laughing, she was smiling. She was content with her decision and she left this life in full control of her choices right up until the end. I can only hope to have such a graceful passing as she did.

18. ### visceral_instinctMonkey see, monkey denigrateValued Senior Member

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I'm all for assisted suicide if the person has some incurable condition and does nothing but suffer. Sorry, if I'm ever paralyzed at the neck, I'm not hanging around to save someone else's selfish feelings if I have any say in it.

19. ### BowserLife is Fatal.Valued Senior Member

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I feel that it's a personal choice. I'm just not sure it is one I would opt for. I might try some serious drugs to kill the pain before shutting the door.

http://www.patientsrightscouncil.org/site/oregon-ten-years/

20. ### seagypsyBannedBanned

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I don't think anyone is suggesting it be forced on anyone, though that would get rid of the social security issue wouldn't it. Mandatory suicide at 65.... ehn.. we'll leave that plot to Star Trek.

21. ### BowserLife is Fatal.Valued Senior Member

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I was referring to state interference--prohibition of such.

22. ### seagypsyBannedBanned

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Sorry I am not feeling well. It seems flu is setting in. I am the last in the household to get it. I am having to read things several times to understand what I am reading right now. I had posted a reply to you under the assumption you were challenging me in another thread only to reread it and realized you were very clearly agreeing with me. I may need to call it a night .... or three.

23. ### BowserLife is Fatal.Valued Senior Member

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I received a flu shot last week. I often spend more time online than I should--too many late nights. Get some rest