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  1. #1

    Louis Theroux - Choosing Death

    I mentioned this show on the TV thread in the Dug Out but it left me a bit conflicted so I was wondering if anyone else watched it and what your thoughts are?

    Firstly I thought it was very well made and treated a difficult subject matter gently. Secondly I think it's too easy when discussing such emotive subjects to see only black and white when much of the detail is in a grey area. I've been guilty of that in the past on this very topic and this documentary left me with more questions than answers and probably more morally confused than ever. I found the story of the man who used the drugs to die surrounded by his family in a manner of his choosing both terribly sad but also strangely uplifting. As far as deaths go it looked a pretty good one and was simply hastening the inevitable. On the flip side I found the story of the lady in the wheelchair who seemed to be making the decision based on her grief for her husband, her financial issues and her loneliness to be heartbreaking. The 'exit guides' troubled me as I couldn't decide if they were simply driven by the zeal of their beliefs or whether there was a more sinister side to their actions, they seemed to draw a certain satisfaction from their actions that seemed to go beyond a simple desire to help and that left me very unsettled.

    On the one hand I find the idea of unnecessary suffering appalling and can see why someone would wish to take control of their own dying process, after all it's a part of their own life. I also don't entirely buy into the idea that there is a great dignity in seeing out an illness to it's natural conclusion. I've watched people close to me in their last weeks and months and, despite the best efforts of all involved, it didn't leave me with a feeling there had been a great dignity or serenity. I found it particularly hard to see my Granny, who had been a vibrant and glamorous woman, reduced to living in a constant state of agitation, fear, anxiety and confusion as she quite literally wasted away whilst being medicated to prolong her existence ( I used that word deliberately as she didn't have a life). The memory of those last weeks upsets me far more than her death itself as by the time it came it was a relief and a blessing for her. On the flip side the idea someone could choose to end their life because of financial pressures or a lack of faith in the social care system in their country makes me worry that assisted suicide could become an 'escape route' for those who feel like a burden. The grey areas of what constitutes sound mind, who makes the final decision if someone has expressed a desire to die, in a legal framework, but has declined to the point they can no longer consent at the point of administration or do we follow the US model of self administration only?

    I think there's still a reluctance to openly discuss death which leads to such debates often being dominated by extremes and it keeps sensible discussion and debate off the table. It baffles me to an extent as it's one of the key moments of our life and I'd like my wishes around so much of it from organ donation to funeral preferences to be known. I suppose the real debate is how much control we should have over when we go and at what point we cease to be able to make that decision.
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  3. #2
    Testimonial Due Mon Dieu4's Avatar
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    You should have all the power of what happens to you, there have to be checks and balances though, I'd have a couple of independent doctors/mental health professionals signing off that you are in sound mind to make the decision.

    For people with terminal illness it's a total given for me that they should be able to choose how they go out.

    I felt the same about the lady in the wheelchair, felt more like outside factors like her husbands death and the financial aspect played a huge part in it, although we can't know how bad her Alzheimer's was it didn't sit right with me and would have liked a couple of medical professionals backing her up on her decision

    There is a serious chat needing done again on this subject, I know we had I'd it parliament fairly recently with Margo but this should never be off the table imo

  4. #3
    I didn't see the program but it's a really difficult subject.

    All the logic that applies when we put down a pet applies here also. Both positive: end their suffering and allow them to pass away peacefully. But also the negative: it's easier and usually considerably less of a financial burden on those responsible for care. There is also the fact that not all cases that seem hopeless are hopeless. Grief can fade, mental demons overcome.

    So I agree in principle with the proposition that suffering people should have the right to end their lives when they feel they've had enough but it needs a hell of a lot of safeguards and that's before you consider greedy family members watching their inheritance spent on care, medical facilities under desperate pressure etc. etc.

    I'm just not sure we can do it safely.

  5. #4
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    Interesting point. At a late stage a doctor will presumably give a large dose of morphine to control the pain

    and insure death follows quickly - is that the way it is done? One could argue that this could be done earlier if there is no chance of recovery

    but which doctor would agree to this if asked by a patient who is of sound mind. That doctor might think that the patient wants him to assist

    the patient in suicide by doctor so to speak.

    Some religious people say that pain is part of the process of gaining access to eternal happiness in the after life. Pain relief should be administered, of course

    but not enough to kill. I really don't have a fixed view on this. A very difficult decision for all involved.

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