President’s Message

From President Brian Ruder 

Rational Suicide -- Thoughtful Dying

Ten states and the District of Columbia have given official acceptance to the concept of a rationale hastened death (suicide). They all have passed medical aid in dying laws (MAID) that allow a terminally ill person to die when they choose, using drugs prescribed by their doctor. It then seems “rational” to assume that a person who is suffering from irremediable medical conditions and wants to hasten their death can also be rational. They are terminal, just not necessarily six months from dying. But many states have laws that require the police to take a person for a mental examination if someone reports that the person is contemplating taking their own life. The assumption is that if you want to die before you must, you are not rational.

A rational person is one who makes decisions based on the best information available, rather than on emotion. While none of us has the experience of dying, many of us have experience seeing loved ones die after suffering for long periods of time.

All people approved for Final Exit Network services are rational and thoughtful. They all have serious medical issues. Those who choose to hasten their death do so for their own reasons. Maybe their quality of life is becoming unbearable to them. Or they fear they may have to move into a nursing home. They may not want to be a burden to their families or waste money trying to stay alive. They all are thoughtful and want to control their death as best they can. These reasons among others seem rational to me,

No one wants to die before they must do so. Most of us are uncomfortable thinking about dying because there are so many unknowns. And if you want to hasten your death, there is no perfect time. You are always going to leave some life on the table. But for FEN clients, the cost of leaving that time on the table is much less than the cost of worrying about the things that might happen or the suffering they might endure. This logic seems rational to me.

What seems irrational to me is learning you have dementia and are going to lose competency at some point in the future and decide to live in dementia for years instead of hastening your death legally and peacefully before you lose competency. What seems irrational to me is believing that suffering is acceptable, regardless of how severe or how long it may persist. What seems irrational to me is not at least exploring the legal options for managing your death on your own terms.

I plan to deal with my death in a rational and thoughtful way, with consideration for my family and friends.

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