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Euthanasia vs Suicide

Discussion in 'Tilted Philosophy, Politics, and Economics' started by genuinemommy, Aug 14, 2014.

  1. genuinemommy

    genuinemommy Moderator Staff Member

    Turns out Robin Williams was battling Parkinson's.
    That changes my perspective on his "apparent suicide."
    My thoughts went from, "wow, that's sad." to "Wow, that's really sad."
    No, really... it's a bummer all around that he's gone.
    Do you think things would have been different if there was a viable euthanasia option in the United States?
    Do you think that he would have made use of the option?
    Would the media coverage of the euthanasia passing of a well-loved publicity like Robin Williams change the perspective of the majority of Americans on the process?

    Just a thought... have fun discussing.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2014
  2. snowy

    snowy so kawaii Staff Member

    There are viable euthanasia options in the United States. It's legal here in Oregon, and it's also legal in Washington and Vermont. There's a documentary about it: How to Die in Oregon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Here's a series The Oregonian did on a particular case: Lovelle Svart - Living to the End - The Oregonian

    I'm not sure what would have been different here. Parkinsons is generally a long, slow thing. My husband's grandfather has had it for quite a long time; Michael J. Fox has lived with the disease for twenty plus years. In Oregon, you have to have six months or less to live to use the Death with Dignity Act, and the patient must be judged to be mentally competent. http://www.deathwithdignity.org/sites/default/files/imported/media/uploads/OregonDWDFactSheetwLogo.pdf

    Less than 100 people used the Death with Dignity Act last year to end their lives in the state of Oregon, so it's not exactly a popular choice, but people ought to be free to exercise that choice. Depression is a different beast altogether, though. I understand the desire to be free of the pain of depression all too well, but the pain is often temporary--or at the very least, it comes and it goes. It can end via means other than death.
    • Like Like x 3
  3. rogue49

    rogue49 Tech Kung Fu Artist Staff Member

    Well, it's not just the Parkinson's itself...but the fact that it triggers physical depression...which is something Williams battled anyway throughout life.
    So, that may have been an added factor...or cumlative to his decision...or anyone else's.

    One of the things that I learned during my support of my Ex with her 3 auto-immune diseases,
    was that these significant illnesses may have been lingering throughout the earlier years of the person, before they became "apparent" or obvious or emergent.
    So that in itself may be a factor with previous illnesses, symptoms or other factors that you thought was something else.

    Unfortunately, medicine is only just getting a handle on these subtle and complex diseases...and how they overlap with other more "common" illnesses.
    And even many doctors are ill prepared to either detect ...or address these.
    Example, it took 2 years and 30+ doctors just to "start" figuring out what my Ex had. (Sjogren's was first...then later RA, then finally Lupus)
    There were many misdiagnosises and misdirections before that...much less HOW to deal with it.

    And even only after that...experiencing the issue with time and awareness,
    were she & her mother able to figure out that many of her previous issues were likely these diseases, following a pattern and type.
    But no hospital or doctor was able to make the connection beforehand...they just treated what they thought was the "apparent" issue.

    Some people can take the impact of the disease...and keep going.
    Some do not deal with it well...and yet, keep going. (and their friends & family suffer for it as well at times)
    And unfortunately, some say "forget this" and act.
    And you never know if this was a logical and calulated decision...spur of the moment...or was it something affecting the person's mind and emotions.
    There are too many variables.

    In the end, it is up to the person to figure out how to communicate...and compensate.
    The world can't save a person who doesn't reach out.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2014
    • Like Like x 2
  4. Street Pattern

    Street Pattern Very Tilted

    I am strongly opposed to legalizing euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide.

    I mean, people can do what they like, including kill themselves, but the legal system should never recognize it as a valid o'ption.

    I feel exactly the same way about the death penalty. The government ought not have the power to deliberately put people to death.

    (Note that "deliberately" implies deliberation, that is, not an emergency situation.)
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2014
  5. Plan9 FORMAT C:

    This Island Earth
    It's probably not surprising that I'm for both the death penalty and for euthanasia. I should be able to go to a death clinic, sign a waiver and get my Kool-Aid cocktail or whatever.

    Example: My woman and I aren't having kids. We will be likely be alone when we reach that golden age and our quality of life might quickly deteriorate. As such, I want that clean way out.

    I can understand the ideological reasons for being against something like this, sure, but this is the United States of America and if you don't like something, don't do it... but allow freedom of choice.

    I'd rather spend my twilight years doing something fun instead of worrying about paying mountains of medical bills.

    Too many senior citizens are chained to fears about the next couple years and what will happen to them.

    Both of my grandmothers pissed away their life savings on hospice care. Forget that noise.

    Buy the Cadillac. Enjoy the tropical vacation. Push the button when it is time.


    We treat sick dogs with more compassion than terminal cancer patients.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2014
    • Like Like x 6
  6. fflowley

    fflowley Don't just do something, stand there!

    How does this happen? Hospice care is part of the Medicare benefit and generally is highly cost effective both for the patient and for the payor.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. redravin

    redravin Cynical Optimist Donor


    When I worked assisted living I saw this a lot.
    The parents had to do tricky stuff with their assets like give their house to their kids so they could qualify for Medicare.
    Which got really complicated if there was more than one kid and they were fighting with each other or there weren't any kids.

    Some of the peoples money was eaten up and then they qualified because Medicare only covers a certain percentage and the places know how much so they charge over that until the money runs out.
    Hate our system.
  8. RedSneaker

    RedSneaker Very Tilted

    Medicare pays for one benefit - example - if one is living in a nursing home and goes on hospice, Medicare will begin paying for Hospice but room and board at the facility is no longer covered. And out of pocket nursing homes are insanely expensive. As is 24 care at home. Hospice facilities are available, but will not keep you that long. A couple of weeks. Our system is so incredibly mucked up in these cases. There are no good options for those near death. I've seen it up close and personal twice this year. Plus, they make you decide very quickly and can refuse benefits at a whim. It's disgusting.
    • Like Like x 2
  9. fflowley

    fflowley Don't just do something, stand there!

    I think you are thinking of Medicaid?
    Medicare generally covers you when you reach a specified age (and some other special conditions) and is not income or asset rationed.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. genuinemommy

    genuinemommy Moderator Staff Member

    They weren't viable options for him.

    What if someone is 70, relatively healthy, and just wants an out? Like this Berkeley professor emeritus: Chemical suicide victim was UC Berkeley professor | Berkeleyside

    There wasn't a viable euthanasia option for her, either.
  11. snowy

    snowy so kawaii Staff Member

    Should there be?

    The Oregon law is designed to help those who are going to die avoid prolonging the pain they are in. I think it's reasonable to limit it to those with terminal illnesses. I'm not the kind of person to make a sanctity of life argument, but I will say that if we're going to have the state involved, it stands to reason that it ought to be well-defined and limited in scope.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. genuinemommy

    genuinemommy Moderator Staff Member

    Check out this case in Belgium.
    --- merged: Aug 15, 2014 at 9:06 AM ---
    I started this thread because I have no idea where I stand on physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia. I'm not ready to form opinions or vote on the matter. And I figure it's going to be increasingly on people's minds with Robin Williams' actions. So I'd better start thinking about it and forming an informed opinion. Fair warning: In the weeks ahead, I will most likely be posting things that support both sides of the argument.

    Here's an enlightening perspective:
    Robin Williams Didn't Kill Himself
    Tidbits below...
    "Oh, my friend, if only you knew, I thought to myself. If only you understood. If only you could grasp it. It was not him. It was his illness. It can be so hard to understand for the mentally healthy. Just as I cannot possibly comprehend what it means for someone to have AIDS or cancer, I think it can be truly hard for people to wrap their minds around the idea the overwhelming, suffocating nature of severe mental illness. That someone could feel so depressed, so low, that their perception of reality is so distorted that they feel that lack of life is preferable to life. It is a sign of our times that we use the words, “Robin Williams killed himself”, in reputable news outlets. That we mention, offhand, that he was suffering from depression. That they are only tangentially connected."
    "What scares me the most about the death of Robin Williams is that it is clear how woefully ill-equipped the world is to fight mental health. How anyone, truly anyone, can fall to it, even someone with tons of money for treatment and support from the world."
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 22, 2014
  13. genuinemommy

    genuinemommy Moderator Staff Member

  14. redravin

    redravin Cynical Optimist Donor

    Sorry, I always flip those.
    • Like Like x 1
  15. martian

    martian Server Monkey Staff Member

    I don't know too much about euthanasia but they sure did a good job sewing my sneakers.

    The problem with offering assisted suicide for non-terminal patients is that the general consensus as far as I'm aware is that a healthy individual should not want to die. Suicidal thoughts and urges are a symptom of a greater illness. Treat the illness.

    If someone is determined to kill themselves they're going to do it and there's not much help for that. In the case of terminal patients that's an understandable choice to make. For everyone else, I'd suggest it's a better choice to encourage them to seek help.
  16. Stan

    Stan Resident Dumbass

    For me, it's a quality of life issue. Life is pretty good, these days; but it won't be forever. I'm inclined to check out on my own terms when my quality of life becomes intolerable.
    • Like Like x 1
  17. Plan9 FORMAT C:

    This Island Earth
    What if I told you so much of our way of life is an illness?

    My wife and child have died in a car crash. I want to join them. Is this something I need to "get over?" Society says it is. I think there should be mainstream escape hatch options.

    So instead of a comfy cocktail followed by a crematorium, you want me to OD on pills, hang myself, jump off a building or redecorate the ceiling with my frontal lobe. Got it.

    Help for what? Who are you to tell me the value of my life? I'm a broke 65 year old widower with no children. I want out.

    /logic and sanity
    • Like Like x 1
  18. martian

    martian Server Monkey Staff Member

    There are cases where it's justifiable and humane to allow someone to die gracefully. Insofar as it's possible to die gracefully. There are also a lot of cases of people who express or even act on a desire to kill themselves, where that desire stems from hormone imbalances or other disorders. Robin Williams is making headlines right now, and it's a lesson. He had everything. He had money, success, a family, he was loved by millions. He killed himself because he was sick, and because he was sick none of that mattered. Had he received adequate treatment he might be alive today.

    Like I said, we can't stop people from killing themselves if they're truly determined to do it. So the real question is whether or how much we want to create an environment that accepts or encourages that. A great many people who kill themselves do so as a consequence of mental illness, and for those people I'd rather maintain a taboo on suicide.

    It's a complicated issue. There's a line, I think. Where do we decide it's okay? Under what circumstances is it acceptable to autoextinguish?

    I support someone's right to end their suffering but I think we need to be careful to make sure that the folks making that decision are taking the long view, as well. There were times during my illness where it felt like there was no point in fighting. Would it have been right for me to kill myself? I don't know but I'm sure as hell glad I didn't now.
    • Like Like x 1
  19. rogue49

    rogue49 Tech Kung Fu Artist Staff Member

    Well, in RW's case...he actually had detailed knowledge of Parkinson's from his work on the movie, "Awakenings"
    He knew the doctor he was playing and the drug they used on the people was the same they used for Parkinson's...at least at that time.

    Knowing his inquisitive mind and ability to recall...he likely got info on it from the doctor and remembered all the details.

    It's a difficult thing looking at debilitation straight in your face...knowing what's happening and what may happen.
    And he's made his career being hyper-active.
    So, between that, the heart-condition and getting old...he was likely thinking the odds were building up against him.

    Plus, many of us have low moments, even in the best of times and health.
    I know for all his generosity and sincerity, he also had a thin skin, taking criticism and failing events personally...and they just canceled "The Crazy Ones" after one season. (who knows why...and how rough it got either)

    I think none of us know what anyone is going through.
    And we seem to discount it if we're not going through it.

    In the end, you can only try your best to help those who are low.
    And it's up to them to help themselves...and get past it.

    And don't think, just because you have formal euthanasia, you're not going to have suicide or it may affect trends. People will always do spontaneous actions.
    I think it's about the laws and civilization not being in denial...and setting up a support structure.
    Draconian rules are not going to do the trick.
    • Like Like x 1
  20. redravin

    redravin Cynical Optimist Donor

    He was also a close friend of Micheal J. Fox, had done the Parkinson's fund raiser every year, and was on the board of Fox's charity.
    All this before he knew he had the condition himself.
    So he had a very good idea of what he was up against.

    But he knew Micheal had been able to deal with it for almost twenty years so I don't think that was the issue.
    What I think was the issue was the depression, one of the major issues with Parkinson's is clinical depression.
    Put that on top of the fact that he had the problem to begin with and there was no controlling it.
    • Like Like x 2