In The New York Times, Paula Span brings to the surface what's been bubbling up among the aging and in think tanks such as the Hastings Center.
With religion losing its hold on our beliefs, more of us have decided it's our right to determine the terms and conditions of our lives as we pile on the years. According to the CDC, 8,200 of the aging, in one year, recently took their own lives.
Of course, this option doesn't appeal to everyone. Some of those over-50 whom I coach are doing what it takes to plan for a long life, no matter what. That includes purchasing long-term care insurance (not cheap) and investigating retrofitting their houses for mobility challenges.
The reason they came to me for career coaching was to ramp up their earned income so that they can afford longevity, despite health issues. Among my suggestions for increasing income were side hustles such as gig work and starting up small businesses.
Among the challenges associated with what has been called "self-deliverance" is the methodology. Most know enough about the law not to pull anyone else into the loop. That could saddle the "helper" with criminal charges. In "Boston Legal," partner Denny Crane frequently asked his close friend to shoot him if his "Mad Cow" aka dementia got worse. Friends don't ask friends to pitch in with self-deliverance.
The reality is that there are so many variables associated with the human body that it is all too easy to botch a suicide. That's the situation, even after research.
Those who fail can wind up in a psychiatric facility - and pariahs in society.
Sadly, we have known those whose supposed fatal medication overdose or leap from a window wasn't successful. Many in their networks then isolated them. One wonders if there is a widespread delusion that suicide is contagious.
One possibility is to do Suicide Tourism, that is travel to locations such as Switzerland where assisted suicide is legal. Not too long ago the media covered the journey there of 104-year-old Australian scientist David Goodall. He had enjoyed a very good life and was not going to endure his growing diminished capacity. Here is that story.
Another is to lobby as a group and on an individual basis for assisted suicide for the aging. With the weakened influence of the Roman Catholic Church in America, that initiative might have a better shot at passing on the state level. It would be less of a hassle and less expensive to travel from a socially conservative state to a more progressive one for professional assistance in self deliverance than to take the long trip abroad.
The overall belief in rational suicide is not strange to me. Like the Hemingways and Plaths (both Sylvia and son Nicholas committed suicide), my family seems to have a suicide gene or gene cluster. Five members, from ages 50 to 71, took their own lives. Aside from one, I assessed that their emotional pain was unbearable and self deliverance made sense.
No, suicide shouldn't be encouraged. However, it shouldn't be shame-based.
Contact Jane Genova for an appointment firstname.lastname@example.org.