Friday, March 13, 2009

right to die

something in the news this morning made me jerk as i lay on the couch half-asleep. a man jumped off the niagara falls. police and rescue officers were immediately on the scene. they extended a pole for the 30-something guy to grab but he refused and instead swam away. for reason that isn't clear as of press time the guy obviously wanted to end his life, he was heard shouting "get away, get away." and if i remember it right, the guy was semi-conscious when he was finally rescued by a helicopter pilot they call their 'angel'. he slid to total oblivion as they brought him to the hospital.

i imagine the extreme disappointment the man would feel when he wakes up and realizes the gleaming white surrounding isn't heaven but a hospital. just think about the gumption he had to muster and probably the sleepless nights spent planning his death put to waste. i don't know his reason, but i'm sure he has one.

i do admire the heroism of those people who are willing to risk their lives to save the lives of others. but what part of "get away, get away" didn't they understand? the man wanted to die, for pete's sake. while other people would run for their lives this guy swam FOR his death. immersed in near-freezing water, rampaging waves and still refusing any aid simply meant that he knew what he did and was very determined to do it. the rescuers knew that too, because the guy rebuffed all the efforts to get him out of the water.

my point is - and i'd better say it now before i get any flak for even writing this - i do believe that any person should be allowed to die at will. we didn't have a choice when we were born. could we at least have the choice to die?

i have a death wish myself so i could empathise with the thirtysomething guy. some think it strange, but i think that if a person feels that s/he has completed his/her purpose in life and is ready to come full circle then so be it. i am not a big fan of old age if there is no more point to growing old, allowing the skin to wither or the bones to brittle. in the olden days, a woman's life expectancy was only around 40 years, that's when she stopped ovulating and could no longer conceive. it's the scientific and technological advances that prolonged human life span way beyond the productive and reproductive years.

but not be misconstrued, people can't just die anytime. my take on this is that when one has reached the apex of the hierarchy of needs, when one is already content and happy, it should be his/her right to extinguish the fire in his/her life. or... when a person, no matter what he/she does cannot even go one notch higher in the same hierarchy of needs, and thinks his/her existence is just an exercise in futility.

this morning i thought again of why in spite of my death wish i am not suicidal. it is because i can't think of a glamourous way of dying. slash my wrist, na-ah, too gory. put a thick rope around my neck, nope. don't know how to tie a knot. overdose of sleeping pills..hmm, i will need doctor's prescription. jump off a cliff, arggh, don't want any bone broken. dive into the ocean... nah, i can't swim. and oh, my son won't get any benefit from my insurance if i ever committed suicide.

today as i mull over the news...since the death penalty has been abolished and not one soul who was allowed to use the death chamber did so at will, it could probably be turned from a dreadful place into a pleasurable retreat instead. and even generate income. make the lethal injection available to anyone who is qualified and willing to die. being qualified of course means they have to meet a few criteria. (for this purpose i will call the person suicidee referring to the person who wants to end his/her life) 1) suicidee must be of legal age to die 2) suicidee must not have outstanding financial obligations that may leave the suicidee's relatives laden with debts as a result of his/her passing. death cannot be an escape from debts. 3) suicidee has no dependents; 4) suicidee has undergone counselling, and with a certificate to prove it, 5) while consent of loved ones is not necessary, they must be informed of the suicidees decision. 6) funeral/interment has been pre-arranged and all expenses to be incurred are pre-paid; and, 7) the suicidee who has capacity to pay must pay. the income that will be collected will be used to maintain the death chamber. the managers of the facility will also allocate budget to allow those without the capacity to pay to still die.

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