The Last Choice: Preemptive Suicide in Advanced Age

The Last Choice: Preemptive Suicide in Advanced Age

The Last Choice: Preemptive Suicide in Advanced Age

The Last Choice: Preemptive Suicide in Advanced Age

Synopsis

The Last Choice establishes that preemptive suicide in advanced age can be rational: that it can make good sense to evade age-related personal diminishment even at the cost of good time left. Criteria are provided to help determine whether soundly reasoned, cogently motivated and prudently timed self-destruction can be in one's interests late in life. In our time suicide and assisted suicide are being increasingly tolerated as ways to escape unendurable mental or physical suffering, but it isn't widely accepted that suicide may be a rational choice before the onset of such suffering. This book's basic claim is that it can be rational to choose to die sooner as oneself than to survive as a lessened other: that judicious appropriation of one's own inevitable death can be an identity-affirming act and a fitting end to life.

Excerpt

When The Last Choice was first published in 1990, I felt the book was timely; now I feel it was somewhat ahead of its time. I agreed then with Margaret Battin's dust-jacket comment that suicide would "replace abortion as the social issue" of the 1990s, and seven years into the decade, she's certainly been proven right. But the focus of public debate hasn't been suicide per se; it's been physician-assisted suicide as an alternative to slow and agonizing death. While we've seen considerable "right to die" and "death with dignity" activism, professional, public, and media interest in physician-assisted suicide hasn't yet extended to the broader issue of elective death in general, nor in particular to what I introduced in the first edition as preemptive suicide in advanced age.

The idea of preemptive suicide, of self-destruction as an unforced anticipatory option as opposed to suicide forced by actual circumstances, remains disturbing to many. Consider that even such ardent supporters of the right to die as Derek Humphry and Jack Kevorkian haven't pressed the cause of preemptive suicide. Humphry, who at the time was head of the Hemlock Society, made it clear in his review of The Last Choice that his concern is limited to affording people the opportunity to end lives that are already irredeemably jeopardized. Humphry's much-read and much-debated Final Exit is a manual devoted to curtailment of the process of dying . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.