Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Suicide Plan

Last night I watched The Suicide Plan on PBS. It was a very eye opening documentary about people opting to end their lives in states where it is still illegal.  Currently Washington and Oregon have death with dignity laws that will allow a doctor to prescribe a medication that will hasten a person's death, but that person has to have a terminal diagnosis.  This documentary explored the alternative.  I encourage you to watch it even if you don't agree with it. If anything, you might see a different perspective or you might have your beliefs confirmed.  Either way, you're learning something about yourself and the world.

Okay, so I know better than to ask what you all think about "assisted suicide."  Death is already a taboo subject, so I realize that no one (okay, maybe one or two) will step forward and give me their thoughts.  But, that's okay.  I encourage you to have this conversation with someone you're close to.  Or even better, watch this segment on the link I provided and discuss it with them.

Have a great rest of the week!


  1. I've long been an advocate of death with dignity. In the old days, even up to as recently as 30 years ago patients were quietly allowed to leave this world in a dignified, pain-free way. I can remember a relative who was terminal when I was a young lad. The relative was sent home to die amongst family. Pain meds were sent home with the patient and the doctor explained to my uncles and aunts that "this much will ease her pain... for awhile. This much will let her go to sleep and drift on away."

    I'm not going to tell whether my family opted for the increased dosage; I am only going to say that it was a very compassionate way of dealing with the situation. I hope when my time comes, I will have that option.

    1. Hey Jim!
      The assisted deaths in this film involved helium and a hood. It didn't seem very dignified or compassionate.
      I think people should have their wishes addressed by their physicians so that those who are tired of suffering can have a truly dignified death if that is what they want. A death with dignity law was on the vote in Minnesota and it didn't pass, but it was very close.

  2. I saw some of this PBS film and agree that the helium, hood, and "restraining" seemed anything but compassionate or dignified. I am in complete support for death with dignity.


    1. Yeah, when it said that they would hold down someone's arms to prevent them from botching their own death, it just seemed a little too "assisted."
      I wish more states had death with dignity laws in place.

  3. I support death with dignigty when the time comes and it is not possible to continue living. I don't know that I want to watch the film, after hearing about helium, a hood, and restraints! It sounds more like murder than compassion. I think that a clear distinction needs to be made between death with dignity and just plain suicide. I have a younger brother who committed suicide last year and it has taken a huge toll on our family....he got super drunk and hung himself...since then I cannot watch or read anything where people die, or are killed. I used to be fascinated by death, now I wish it would leave me alone, if that makes sense....still, it's something we are all going to have to do some day, and if I am fortunate enough to live to a grand old age, I hope the end comes without much pain...I'd hate to die screaming, which so many people do, according to a nurse friend of mine.
    It is a taboo topic, but I agree that it's something that needs to be talked about.

    1. Eve:
      I'm sorry about your brother. I hope your family is getting some emotional support for what you all are going through.
      Also, I want to thank you for contributing to the discussion. You are right, death is taboo and the more we talk about it, the better. So, thank you!

  4. Hi Eve,
    I'm an old buddy of Jen Felkner here in Austin. We were talking last night and she mentioned that I might like your blog. She was right!
    I just finished reading The Undertaking by Thomas Lynch and he touches on physician assisted suicides.
    If it is still done with death machines, it doesn't seem very compassionate.
    Medicalizing death can be a slippery slope.
    To me, as Jim mentioned in his comment, having a family member ease your pain seems like a true act of love and compassion.

    1. It's actually, Pamela. Eve was a poster. Hi Jenny's friend! Thanks for stopping by and saying hello. I agree with you that the Undertaking is a great book. If you haven't already, you should read "The American Way of Death" by Jessica Mitford.

  5. Excellent post, deathwriter...a topic many do not wish to discuss, but one I find myself fascinated with.

    I have bookmarked the link to Frontline, I will make a cup of coffee and sit back and watch it shortly. Thanks for the link.

    Without seeing it I have been of the opinion my life is mine alone and it should be up to me how I live it and exit it. I'm rather annoyed that so many "do gooders" seem to know what's best for me...news flash, they don't.

    I am currently tending to an ailing mother, we have discussed her exit strategy for a long time. She too does not mind the conversation - I must get that trait from her.

    Needless to say, everyone seems to have a strong opinion about this topic, if and when they finally engage in it. However, in this instance I firmly believe it is each to his/her own.

    Now...in the case of a terminal illness there should be no discussion - gosh, we show more humanity to our pets then to those suffering a slow, painful death.

    This is one of those "conversations" that would take more than a simple comment...so I now bow out...as this is starting to be a post unto itself.

    Suffice it to say...good on you for sharing it and opening up the floor to dialogue about assisted death.

    Also, I added myself as a Follower, for some reason I thought I had done so long ago...yours is a blog worth following.


    1. Jenny:
      I appreciate that. And I appreciate your honesty. How we die is something we should all consider.
      With this blog, I'm just trying to keep the conversation going, so I thank you for contributing to the discussion.

  6. Hey, hi, again. My latest Mac software saw fit to obliterate all my blog feeds that used to come to Mail. It's taken me a while to s.l.o.w.l.y find everyone's feeds again.

    Just to clarify about Oregon's law, one has to be able to swallow the medication on their own. Their is nothing 'assisted' about these deaths. The doctor simply fills a prescription.

    A friend of my parents opted for this. She was diagnosed with ALS at the age of 86 and said, frankly, she did not wish to endure that final stages of that. So, she got a prescription, and when the disease advanced, threatening her ability to swallow, she took the meds with family and friends at her bedside. It was heroic and peaceful.

    I'm glad to see you are still here and still blogging about this important and often avoided subject.

    1. It's been a tough week, so I just wanted to thank you for commenting. Have you seen "How to Die in Oregon?" It's a wonderful documentary and it showed exactly what the process is and you are correct, the patient administers everything on their own.


Comments are welcome and appreciated!