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Old 25.11.2013, 23:27
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Elderly couple suicide hand in hand after 60y of love

An elderly french couple have ignited a debate on assisted suicide after being found dead in a Paris hotel holding hands and leaving behind a note criticising the country for not allowing them to end their days "serenely".

The pair were still very much in love after more than 60 years of marriage; and in the name of that loving unity, they decided to end their lives together at a time and place of their choosing.

Last Friday, a member of staff at the historic Hotel Lutetia in Paros walked in with the breakfast tray to find the pair hand in hand on their bed with plastic bags over their faces.
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Old 25.11.2013, 23:48
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Re: Elderly couple suicide hand in hand after 60y of love

A very sad story. It is about time that governments came up laws to enable people to end their lives in a dignified way in situations like this. Clearly, there have to be safeguards in place to prevent any claims of euthanasia etc.

Surely, it must be better for people to end their lives with the knowledge of their family and friends. Any form of suicide is likely to cause needless distress to others e.g. in this case, the hotel staff.
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Old 25.11.2013, 23:59
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Re: Elderly couple suicide hand in hand after 60y of love

I do feel strongly about The State having a hand to play in the euthanasia of old, but never-the-less healthy individuals. When we are increasingly being told that ageing populations are a burden on society and dwindling resources, what is to stop an abuse of the system, or worse, the elderly feeling a misplaced obligation to relieve the strain on their families?

In any case I welcome a proper debate
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Old 26.11.2013, 00:13
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Re: Elderly couple suicide hand in hand after 60y of love

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I do feel strongly about The State having a hand to play in the euthanasia of old, but never-the-less healthy individuals. When we are increasingly being told that ageing populations are a burden on society and dwindling resources, what is to stop an abuse of the system, or worse, the elderly feeling a misplaced obligation to relieve the strain on their families?

In any case I welcome a proper debate
You are right that protection against abuse of the system needs to be in place. I think that any system needs medical approval and some form of independent monitoring. Any family involvement and wills would also need to to be independently verified.

This should hopefully prevent the situations of people feeling that they were a burden on their families, health services or society. This is probably the hardest part to prevent
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Old 26.11.2013, 13:02
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Re: Elderly couple suicide hand in hand after 60y of love

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... I think that any system needs medical approval and some form of independent monitoring....
Perhaps it is not true that the service is also available to those who are not physically ill (e.g. who are suicidally depressed) or that, in order to obtain the fatal dose, it has been the practice to keep going from one doctor to the next until one is found who doesn't mind issuing it. This was alleged in a TV documentary a few years ago. It suggested that medical approval wouldn't necessarily be impossible to get, no matter what the rules were.

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Surely, it must be better for people to end their lives with the knowledge of their family and friends. Any form of suicide is likely to cause needless distress to others e.g. in this case, the hotel staff.
It's difficult to know if it would be better with the knowledge of family/friends. They might still always ask themselves why they didn't do or say something more to prevent it and feel like accessories to murder if they knew and went along with it but didn't agree with it. There was an article in the Times a while ago about adult children who accompanied their still-healthy mother to a euthanasia clinic because she was determined to die before she became incapacitated by a degenerative disease. Her husband had had something similar, but let nature take its course. Her children were unhappy about her decision, but ultimately realised that they had no option, after one of them found her one morning in bed with a bag over her head while she was visiting his home. They accompanied her to the opera the night before, and on the day itself were present as she took the fatal draft, watching her struggling for breath, and turning purple as she died. The impression from the article was that they had done what she wanted, but not what they wanted and that it had been a terrible experience for them.

From a different angle, there's this BBC Panorama documentary

Last edited by Reb77Br; 26.11.2013 at 14:47.
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Old 26.11.2013, 13:37
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Re: Elderly couple suicide hand in hand after 60y of love

From the information given in the article, I tend to think this couple's act while very sad, was deeply selfish and not in the least heroic. The idea that the law had driven them to a "hard" death is nonsense - similar the the violent spouse who says to his/her partner "you made me do it". They chose to end their lives this way. They chose not to take the various "soft" ways which are available to all but the most incapacitated.

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...This should hopefully prevent the situations of people feeling that they were a burden on their families, health services or society. This is probably the hardest part to prevent
For that reason alone, I'm out. In my view the harm caused by such a regime more than outweighs the benefits. The law as it stands protects the vulnerable.
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Old 26.11.2013, 13:45
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Re: Elderly couple suicide hand in hand after 60y of love

If the couple were in their 80s and wanted to die together holding hands then I don't know why it is selfish

Your violent spouse example is very trashy.
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Old 26.11.2013, 13:47
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Re: Elderly couple suicide hand in hand after 60y of love

I was talking about the logic, rather than the morality. Would you prefer: - "I'm forced to do A because the law won't let me do B". It's a false dichotomy.

It's selfish because they could have picked a way that didn't traumatise hotel staff. They thought more of their own needs than of other people.
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Old 26.11.2013, 14:58
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Re: Elderly couple suicide hand in hand after 60y of love

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It's selfish because they could have picked a way that didn't traumatise hotel staff.
Perhaps they wanted to be found like that, especially if they left a note criticising the country for not allowing them to exit serenely. If they'd gone somewhere anonymous, they might not have been found at all, or holding hands, and the note would have had less impact.
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Old 26.11.2013, 14:59
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Re: Elderly couple suicide hand in hand after 60y of love

Which other 'soft option' could they have chosen? Personally I'd prefer a box of sleeping tablets and a bottle of whisky- but would still be traumatic for whomever found them.

I find the story quite touching actually. I have discussed this possibility with several friends in their 70s- who also say that if one of them was debilitated by a terrible disease, like Alzheimers or a motor-neurone disease- they would chose to leave this earth together. And that is their choice, surely.

But yes, I do feel for the hotel staff and agree steps should have been taken, a warning perhaps- but had they done so, some do-gooder would have interferred.
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Old 26.11.2013, 15:56
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Re: Elderly couple suicide hand in hand after 60y of love

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Perhaps it is not true that the service is also available to those who are not physically ill (e.g. who are suicidally depressed) or that, in order to obtain the fatal dose, it has been the practice to keep going from one doctor to the next until one is found who doesn't mind issuing it. This was alleged in a TV documentary a few years ago. It suggested that medical approval wouldn't necessarily be impossible to get, no matter what the rules were.
If the medical service was only available from a nominated doctor, that should reduce the possibility of dodgy ones being sought out. This should also have some form of independent monitoring.

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It's difficult to know if it would be better with the knowledge of family/friends. They might still always ask themselves why they didn't do or say something more to prevent it and feel like accessories to murder if they knew and went along with it but didn't agree with it. There was an article in the Times a while ago about adult children who accompanied their still-healthy mother to a euthanasia clinic because she was determined to die before she became incapacitated by a degenerative disease. Her husband had had something similar, but let nature take its course. Her children were unhappy about her decision, but ultimately realised that they had no option, after one of them found her one morning in bed with a bag over her head while she was visiting his home. They accompanied her to the opera the night before, and on the day itself were present as she took the fatal draft, watching her struggling for breath, and turning purple as she died. The impression from the article was that they had done what she wanted, but not what they wanted and that it had been a terrible experience for them.
I think that it should always be done with the knowledge of the family. Inevitably, there will not always be approval for this.

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From the information given in the article, I tend to think this couple's act while very sad, was deeply selfish and not in the least heroic. The idea that the law had driven them to a "hard" death is nonsense - similar the the violent spouse who says to his/her partner "you made me do it". They chose to end their lives this way. They chose not to take the various "soft" ways which are available to all but the most incapacitated.

For that reason alone, I'm out. In my view the harm caused by such a regime more than outweighs the benefits. The law as it stands protects the vulnerable.
In the sense that it would have had a traumatic effect on the hotel staff it could be considered selfish. All the time people take their lives without the advance knowledge of others it is likely to have a traumatic effect on those who find them or to family and friends. The fact that the law doesn't allow them to take their own lives is what leads to the thought that they had no options.

Of course, all of this is easy to say whilst in good health. Whether my opinions would change if I, or a family member, was faced with this situation I don't know. I hope that my opinion wouldn't change.
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Old 26.11.2013, 16:58
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Re: Elderly couple suicide hand in hand after 60y of love

Well, with advancing years, I have to say I am very glad I live in Switzerland, and am a member of Exit- so that, should I ever feel that the future is too grim to contemplate- I, and actually we together- if that is what we would want at the time- would have the legal choice to do this properly- and in our own home. And fortunately, our daughters know about this, and hopefully will understand and support us. Should that time ever come.

Our daughter commutes into London from Surrey every day, and 'jumpers' are such a regular occurence- traumatic for the train drivers, and for the railway users too.

People he so often say Switzerland is 50 or more years behind the times- but on this point, we are light years ahead.

Exit always interviews members who make a request for help, on their own- and are very experienced in eeking out any signs of outside influence or pressure. On the chosen day, the 'helper' who is well trained, will again talk to the person on their own, and again will ensure that not such outside pressure or any kind of hesitation or doubt are there-and if necessary will pospone the event- followed by further discussion/s to ensure there is not doubt or pressure whatsoever. When fully sure, and only then- will the necessary help and support given.

Last edited by Odile; 26.11.2013 at 17:10.
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Old 26.11.2013, 17:14
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Re: Elderly couple suicide hand in hand after 60y of love

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I was talking about the logic, rather than the morality. Would you prefer: - "I'm forced to do A because the law won't let me do B". It's a false dichotomy.

It's selfish because they could have picked a way that didn't traumatise hotel staff. They thought more of their own needs than of other people.
Despite how much I do support assisted suicide (in certain circumstances), I must agree that they were a bit selfish. It must be pretty traumatizing to find a dead couple like that. They could have, instead, perhaps done it in their home and left a note on their front door, warning whomever about what they had done inside.

I suppose, though, that when you're in that frame of mind -- about to take your own life -- it would be easy to not think of everything or to act a bit selfishly. When people are very depressed, they often become a bit self-centered in that they focus so much on their own situation/problems they can easily forget the rest of the world around them. I'm curious what illness she/he had to drive them to do this. I'm also curious if the family members were aware of it and if they had the chance to say their good-byes.
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Old 26.11.2013, 17:16
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Re: Elderly couple suicide hand in hand after 60y of love

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Well, with advancing years, I have to say I am very glad I live in Switzerland, and am a member of Exit- so that, should I ever feel that the future is too grim to contemplate- I, and actually we together- if that is what we would want at the time- would have the legal choice to do this properly- and in our own home. And fortunately, our daughters know about this, and hopefully will understand and support us. Should that time ever come.
Odile, do you have to be a Swiss citizen to be a member of Exit?

I remember reading once that a lot of foreigners come to Switzerland for assisted suicide, and I was curious how that would work exactly.
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Old 26.11.2013, 17:18
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Re: Elderly couple suicide hand in hand after 60y of love

Not at all, but you have to have been resident for 6 months or more.
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Old 26.11.2013, 17:21
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Re: Elderly couple suicide hand in hand after 60y of love

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Not at all, but you have to have been resident for 6 months or more.
Okay. Thanks, dear.
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Old 26.11.2013, 18:10
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Re: Elderly couple suicide hand in hand after 60y of love

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I remember reading once that a lot of foreigners come to Switzerland for assisted suicide, and I was curious how that would work exactly.

Watch the documentary Choosing to die by Terry Pratchett on youtube.

I am absolutely pro-eutanasia but they way Dignitas does this with that blue house and the odd nurse and the terrible furniture just made me all against them.

Warning: this is a sad video.

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Old 26.11.2013, 18:29
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Re: Elderly couple suicide hand in hand after 60y of love

The more I read about this couple the more I respect their choice. They definitely wanted to put the debate in the public space in France. They wrote that more than death they feared from being separated and being dependent. Apparently more than 3'000 elderly people commit suicide in France every year. Intensive use of medication (acharnement thérapeutique) or depression are the main drivers for the higher suicide rate among this population.

The choice of Hotel Lutetia has a deep meaning to them: it's the hotel where Georgette Cazes saw her father again after WWII when he came back from a prisoner camp in Germany.
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Old 26.11.2013, 18:57
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Re: Elderly couple suicide hand in hand after 60y of love

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Watch the documentary Choosing to die by Terry Pratchett on youtube.

I am absolutely pro-eutanasia but they way Dignitas does this with that blue house and the odd nurse and the terrible furniture just made me all against them.

Warning: this is a sad video.

I felt totally uncomfortable with that story and video- as it was such a 'bad' example, eg the man did not suffer from a terminal disease, wasn't in great pain or facing an unberable and painful, long death. A really unfortunate example- and it gives a really bad impression.

Terry Pratchett Dimbleby lecture, read by Tony Robinson- was a much more moving and convincing plea.

Exit is totally different to Dignitas. It allows you to die at home or where you choose to, with your partner, family or friends- or on your own. As YOU choose- without interference. Sadly, people outside Switzerland rarely have that choice. As said, Switzerland is light years ahead here. Still many problems to fight about. One that many OAP homes do not allow Exit to give assistance in said home. Which is why I would offer my home if ever someone in one of our local OAP homes wanted assistance and had no other choice (Exit is aware). The other problem is with dementia and Alzheimers, as the person asking assistance has to be in full control of their decision at the time of assistance. Exit members strongly feel that one should be able to make a clear advance directive- staing clearly at what stage of dementia they should be helped to die, and that it should be respected, with all the necessarily guidelines and checks. At the moment, someone diagnosed with early dementia or Alzheimers, who still enjoy many pleasures in life- have to make the decision to die at the onset of the disease, as a few weeks and months later might well be too late. That is very sad as they could probably continue to enjoy many pleasures and visits from family and friends, for quite some time after diagnosis.

Last edited by Odile; 26.11.2013 at 19:14.
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Old 26.11.2013, 20:15
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Re: Elderly couple suicide hand in hand after 60y of love

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I felt totally uncomfortable with that story and video- as it was such a 'bad' example, eg the man did not suffer from a terminal disease, wasn't in great pain or facing an unberable and painful, long death. A really unfortunate example- and it gives a really bad impression.
I am not sure which story or video you mean now. This is a documentary - rather than just a "video" - about several people. The first man, Peter has a motor neuron disease from which he clearly suffers and that has no treatment options. The Belgian writer, Hugo had Alzheimer's. Andrew Colgan, the younger man had MS and was crawling out of bed in extreme pain every morning. Which of these is a bad example and gives a bad impression? I feel like we are talking about two different things or you haven't watched it beyond the first couple of minutes?
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