Carol and I watched a PBS Frontline program The Suicide Plan on suicide and assisted suicide last week. The show was well done and highlighted what has been happening in this area since the Jack Kevorkian days.
The focus was on Derek Humphry, author of Final Exit, the best-known book on suicide and assisted suicide. There is an organization called Final Exit Network that uses Humphry’s book in aiding people to end their lives because of a terminal illness. This is a highly controversial subject with many legal, moral, and ethical issues. Washington and Oregon have legalized doctor-assisted suicide for people with a terminal diagnosis to relieve their suffering. In all the other states, assisted suicide is a crime. The Final Exit Network is enmeshed in legal proceedings in several states. Their members assist people in ending their lives, but don’t directly handle the lethal materials. This creates difficult legal problems.
I don’t know myself what I believe about ending my own life because of dementia, cancer, or some other terrible condition. I don’t think I can make the decision alone, and not before knowing the diagnosis and prognosis of the condition. I’m not God, but I have played god with pets. I still carry the pain of having put a beloved canine friend down. All I can do for myself at this point is be informed.