NRL News

Softening Ground for “Rational” Elder Suicide

by | Apr 14, 2015

By Wesley J. Smith


noassistedsuicideThe assisted suicide movement is pushing society in a pro-suicide direction. You see, it isn’t about terminal illness at all. It is an ideology that sees suicide as an acceptable–perhaps desirable–way to end suffering.


Accepting that premise crosses a moral Rubicon, exposing ever increasing categories of suicidal people to abandonment by those who might save their lives.


The mental health professions are being pushed to have a “conversation”–the euphemism for radically changing ethics–about psychologists and psychiatrists permitting “rational” suicide. And now, a story in Medscape reports that “rational suicide” is bubbling up among psychiatrists who treat the elderly. From, “‘Rational Suicide’ Talk Increasing Among Healthy Elderly”:


Here at the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry (AAGP) 2015 Annual Meeting, a session dedicated to the issue aimed to provide guidance to clinicians who may be faced with elderly patients expressing a desire to die by suicide while they are still relatively healthy and cognitively intact.


The concept of suicide based on reasoned decision has been gaining acceptance, particularly in terminally ill patients. But what about older people who are concerned about their failing bodies and feel that their life is already complete? “The possibility of rational suicide is not discussed much in the psychiatric profession.


Our patients may have information about it and may have opinions, but we have no training about this at all,” session moderator Robert McCue, MD, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at New York University (NYU) School of Medicine, in New York City, told conference delegates.


Alas, the symposium presentation serves to put the key in the door that could open the organization to, one day, approving the concept. Dr. McCue noted that the session was not about taking a stand or defending one position over another.


“But people really should begin thinking about all this. And through that, hopefully there will be some evolved guidance for mental health professionals who deal with older people who talk about wanting to end their lives when they see fit to do it. Whether or not an organization says there’s no such thing as rational suicide, our patients often feel differently,” he said. “Right now we really don’t have much guidance in the field, but I’d say, let’s open up discussion, including discourse and varying opinions. And maybe out of that, there will be some consensus on how to approach patients like this.”


That’s a very bad sign. ”Rational suicide” would have mental health professionals validate the suicides of some of their patients, perhaps even facilitate them when law permits.


We have already seen joint euthanasia killings of elderly couples who don’t want to be widowed in the Belgium and at Swiss suicide clinics. Netherlander doctors euthanize and assist the suicides of the healthy elderly “tired of life,” and include social and financial considerations as causes of suffering that could justify termination.


This presentation shows that approved suicide of the elderly is now trying to get a foothold here.


Here’s an approach: Oppose patient suicides every time and work tirelessly to help them not want to commit suicide. Anything else is abandonment. Moreover, accepting “rational suicide” will serve to increase its normalization, putting even more lives at risk of self destruction.


The euthanasia movement has so much for which to answer!

Editor’s note. This appeared on Wesley’s great blog at

Categories: Uncategorized