General Question

Kelly27's avatar

Do you think if assisted suicide was legal in the US the elderly would feel pressured to end their life to save others the expense of them being alive?

Asked by Kelly27 (1471 points ) April 5th, 2009

I read an article about this and I wonder if older people would feel pressured to do so or feel guilty if they chose not to. I think some already feel as though they are a burden financially, among other things.

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28 Answers

MrGV's avatar

This is a question that really doesn’t have an answer it’s really up to the person and everyone’s thoughts are different.

kenmc's avatar

I don’t know about them feeling pressured to do so. I do think it should be an option to be able to end one’s life, though.

Mr_M's avatar

Pressured to end their life? Absolutely not.

Ivan's avatar

A lot of elderly people think that already.

Kelly27's avatar

@MrGeneVan What do you mean there is no answer, I am asking for peoples thought and opinions on this.

ninjacolin's avatar

i suppose it would be the same sort of pressure a pregnant female may get from the father of her child or her parents or friends concerning an abortion.

hmm.. i guess they would still be making their own decision except that it would include knowledge of the opinions of others. is this not just like all other tough decisions in life? ought this decision be regarded more specially?

with it being illegal, it seems to protect the patient from having to deal with other people’s opinions on the matter.

Kelly27's avatar

@boots I think it should be an option as well I just was considering this aspect of it.

YARNLADY's avatar

Yes, I agree that it would be, and also that is already is. Many elder people choose to simply stop living, because they believe they are a burden on their family. It isn’t called suicide unless they use excessive measures to do it.

Kelly27's avatar

When I say pressured I mean things like low income people that are on some form of government insurance, would they be pressured to end their life to save money?
Would they be made to feel guilty if they had become a burden to their family financially or otherwise?

ninjacolin's avatar

right.. as long as this isn’t an option that Power of Attorney could make for them.. it seems like it’s just a matter of knowing other people’s opinion on the “value of their life” or whatever the case is.

cak's avatar

I would actually hope that this would be a very private decision, made between the doctor and patient – possibly spouse. Even that isn’t perfect, but a thought process and discussion that would possibly eliminate the fear that this decision was being made by someone other than the patient. There are some things that no person should ever have to experience, and I do believe a patient, especially a terminal patient (yes, I am aware the argument can be made that we all are truly terminal.) that is coming to the time where they will no longer have a life they want to live. Fully dependent on machines, no quality of life. I’ve had 2 family members die from ALS, both had wished for more control over their outcome. Mother and Son, both died – in a way they had hoped they would have never faced.

This should be very separate than a family making this choice. To be clear, this would be a true, assisted suicide. Not a family making the choice to remove Life Support Systems. —Also very important! Living Wills and knowing whether not you want of have a Do Not Resuscitate Order, on file. Like @ninjacolin just said, this should never be an option for a Power of Attorney, matter – this should be a choice of the patient, not the family. The patient should be fully aware of the situation – no mental impairments.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I am not against assisted suicide. But I do think you have a very real and valid point. And I do think you are right. Elderly people already think they are a burden. Especially in American society where we do not have enough respect for our elders. And this might put more pressure on them. I really believe these issues need to be discussed more and openly so that we can discover ways of dealing with them. I would hope that no one would help someone commit suicide if it was for such a reason. It is a very very personal choice. I would at the very least suggest that the person undergo counseling before any act of assisted suicide was seriously considered.

Zen's avatar

@Kelly27 and @RedPowerLady I agree. I think it would bring our culture a little closer to that of the Eskimos.

HarmonyAlexandria's avatar

This question reminds me of horrid book I had to read in high school.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Children_of_Men

People think of diseases that degenerate the body. What about those with severe Alzheimer’s? Is that life or a mockery of it.

gailcalled's avatar

Some Eskimo elders head for an ice floe when they think that their time here is over, or so I have heard.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@gailcalled @Zen

Well I’d like to see some evidence for that….

(ps eskimo isn’t quite the proper term for Alaskan Natives and is often considered quite offensive)

Zen's avatar

I didn’t say Eskimo = Alaskan Native, and I’d never even heard that before. I do know that there are some Eskimo groups that prefer Inuit, but as I am not sure which, I just said Eskimo. I like political correctness, and try not to offend anyone.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Zen i think you will find all Inuits would prefer to be called by their tribal name versus Eskimo
just an fyi and not trying to be authoritative or push political correctness

VzzBzz's avatar

I agree with YARNLADY, I think the infirm elderly already feel pressure from their families and some just feel badly for themselves if alone and the quality of their lives has become horrible in comparison to what they used to have or expected they’d have. I also agree and know for sure, the elderly find ways to commit suicide. In retirement homes and hospices, they all talk to each other and share things they’ve learned, ways they know people won’t look deeply into and mostly because outside people don’t want to dig that deeply.

Zen's avatar

@RedPowerLady Are you saying that they would all prefer to be called Inuit (and that Inuit is their tribal name) or that I should first find out their tribal name, like Apache or Navaho for Native Americans?

I think that tone is just as, if not more important when talking about other cultures. In this case, I wasn’t talking to or about someone, so there wasn’t really anyone to take offense. As I said, I think political correctness is important, and I do not want to offend anyone.

Is it black, coloured, or African American? I’ve heard that some people take offense at any and all of those, as the latter implies that the person is from Africa, and perhaps the person is 3rd generation American.

Perhaps if you knew something about me, anything, you’d know that nothing bad was implied.

Even if you “whisper it”, you contradicted yourself when you wrote: not trying to be authoritative or push political correctness. I think you were. Just with the wrong person, and the wrong situation.

But I digress from the question. @Kelly27 My answer is yes, sadly.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Zen As a Native person I can say that hearing inappropriate terms, such as Eskimo, can be offensive, no matter who or what you are talking about. Now what I was saying is that if you are talking about the Inuit tribe you should use the term Inuit. If you are speaking of all Alaskan tribes then you should say that. I have no idea what you meant by using the term Eskimo as it isn’t widely accepted and doesn’t accurately refer to anyone.
And by the way I was just trying to be informative (and not change your speech patterns) but since you wanted to continue the discussion that is my two cents

Zen's avatar

@RedPowerLady Point taken.

lazydaisy's avatar

It may. I agree that many seniors, or those who are terminally ill, may feel that way already but there are probably at least as many who don’t. I’m not sure it would increase the numbers, those who feel that way may follow through regardless of leglization. Having that as an option may result in far fewer guilty spouses. They don’t have to be the ones delivering lethal doses of existing medications

wundayatta's avatar

I think this is a serious concern. Perhaps not grounds to ban assisted suicide, but still, a serious concern. Many elderly do feel superfluous, like a drag on their children’s finances and time, and they are depressed and really can’t justify their continued existence. In some cases, their kids may be actively colluding to make their parents feel like an unwanted weight on their shoulders.

I’m not sure how to get around this, but it is a concern.

Bluefreedom's avatar

I think if assisted suicide became legal in the United States, Dr. Jack Kevorkian would be back in business.

gailcalled's avatar

From my experience (with 4 people), it is the elderly person who is pushing to have some help in departing and the rest of the family who is frantically resisting. In the cases where the person succeeds (usually on his own), the family is enraged, guilty and unhappy.

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