A question that is being proposed with today's society is do older persons have the right to commit suicide. I chose this topic because elderly people are usually ignored and forgot about in American society. Research has found that a large portion of America's elderly struggle with that very question from day to day. This is not something that is widely publicized any many people are unaware of this struggle that the elderly face. There are a number of reasons behind older people wanting to commit suicide. Several older people suffer from extreme depression.
Once people hit a certain age in life it is very common for them feel unimportant, unwanted, or older person may have had to retire from a job they held for many years. They may have held a high position and may feel like retirement has taken their high status away from them. They may not feel as important any longer.
Due to the length of life of an elderly person they may have sustained several deaths of friends and family members. Depending upon the number of deceased loved ones this may leave the person feeling lonely and left behind. They may fell like they have no one. This may cause some of them to want to commit suicide to simply unite with those that have passed away.
Another cause of their loneliness is the fact that in the process of people getting older their family is maturing as well. (Poitras, C.). Some older people may be used to being the head of the family or the stronghold, but as the family gets older as a whole the need for their leadership declines, this can leave a person feeling empty and unwanted. Most of the time when people start a family they devote most of the better part of their life to building and guiding their family. Once the family grows up as a whole the one who sacrificed so much can be left to feel like they did it all in vain. (Poitras, C.). This feeling can lead to depression, which leads to the desire to commit suicide.
Another cause of the desire to commit suicide among the elderly population is sickness or disease. Illness is something that commonly exists among older people. In most cases the body is only going to be in a healthy state for a limited amount of time. In some cases the person may be no longer able to care for himself or herself and maybe forced to depend on their family for care. Their sickness can be so severe that they have to rely totally on others to feed, clothe, and change them.(Nelson, J.). This can be embarrassing for the person in need of care. This dependency can make them feel like they are a burden to others. This feeling of burdensomeness can be strong enough to lead to suicide thoughts in an elderly person. This is mainly due to the role reversal that takes place. In most cases the elder that is receiving the care is used to being the caregiver, but illness can force them to be on the receiving end. This can affect their pride and self esteem causing them to no longer live. Once ill some older people fear being placed in a nursing home and this to can add to the desire of wanting to commit suicide.
Another aspect of wanting to commit suicide due to pain is the actual physical pain. Some elders may feel like the pain they experience is unbearable and impossible to live with. In some cases where there is a terminal disease such as cancer, the doctors may have told them that there is nothing else they can do for them. The elder may then decide that they do not wish to travel the path ahead. To get out of enduring pain and suffering that awaits them some elderly see suicide as their way out. (Dr.Anderson, A.). In some cases they may have lived a full and fruitful live and do not want their life story altered by pain.
Believe it or not some people are arguing that older persons should have the right to commit suicide. They base this right by saying that they should have the right to shape the end of their lives by using his or her own moral values. People that support this idea state that suicide should be looked upon as just another type of process of dying.
Supporters claim that the conditions of elderly living are bad and society isn't doing anything to help them. They say the with the illness, poor economic conditions, loss of functions, loss of social roles, and the loss of networking the elderly are challenged with makes them wanting to commit suicide understandable. Supporters claim that the future of the elderly seems to be so dim and dark that they should be able to take their life if they want to.
Some people that support the elderly suicide idea say that committing suicide is a right. They say that it should not be any different form any other right such as the right to worship of the right to freedom of speech. They claim that they do not understand what is the big idea or why there's so much controversy surrounding it. They feel that telling someone that they cannot commit suicide is a direct violation of their rights.
On the other hand non- supporters of the act that it is almost insane to think allowing elders to commit suicide because it is a right.(Poitras, C.). They look at the elders committing suicide as a cry for help. Non- supporters feel that we should help them overcome their obstacles not aide them in their request to end it all.
Non- supporters also criticize the physician- assisted suicide. They claim that assisting in suicide does fit into the traditional role that physicians usually play.(Poitras, C.). They claim that doctors should be looked upon as healers and comforters not as death aides. They also feel that this gives doctors too much power. Non- supporters feel that it will also change direction of the profession of practicing medicine by adding another element.
Non- supporters feel like committing suicide is not a right for the elders because it cannot be found stated anywhere as a natural right. It not found in any law books or the U.S constitution, which clearly outlines the rights of U.S citizens. Those that say no to the right of elders committing suicide find it very hard to accept that people find it as a natural right.
There is not compromise to be made or no middle ground on the issue. Supporters and non- supporters will forever be in continuous debate on whether or not elders should be allowed to commit suicide because you either allow them to do it or not. There is not in between with the issue of death.
Overall, I do not think that anyone should be allowed to commit suicide including the elderly. Now in some cases where the person is terminally ill and they are being fed through a tube, they are not alert to the outside world and are basically in a vegetable state I think that elective death can be considered. That is the one and only condition that I think it is understandable. In this particular case I do not think that it should even be considered as suicide.
I have a hard time understanding how suicide for depressed elderly people can even be considered. If society does not support the suicide of depressed teenagers then it should not support for the elderly as well. A human life is a life no matter what the age of the individual. Depression is not something that discriminates against age groups and not anymore severe in one group than the other. I don't think that anyone affected by depression should be convinced to commit suicide not matter what the age of the person is.
I understand that once someone gets to a certain age that his or her life can be altered tremendously. I also can understand how the elderly can feel empty, alone, and unwanted. However, I feel like that is all apart of life and I do not think that it constitutes society's approval for them to commit suicide.
I think that more elderly should be in classes or counseling that teachers them coping skills and ways to deal with the life alterations that have taken place within their lives. I think that there should also be more social events within communities just for senior citizens. This may help them meet others who are having to with the same issues they are. This may also help ease some of the loneliness a lot of elderly feels that leads them to suicide.
Another suggestion to help is to train or council family members of the elderly as well. The family often is who ends up in the poison of caregivers for the elderly. This can often be just as uncomfortable to the family members as it is to the elder who is receiving the care. The family may find it very hard to relate to the loved one and this can add stress to the caregiver also. Because it is a new situation for a lot of people the family member who is giving the care may not be aware of the problems that older people deal with emotionally and mentally. If the elder can sense their stress this may add to them wanting to commit suicide. Perhaps if the family was educated on the stages that an elder can through and what causes them to want to commit suicide. This may very well help decrease the number of elderly suicides that take place.