Have you and your partner ever talked about this with each other? Richard and I had a suicide conversation after I had been in constant level 12 pain (on the 1 - 10 scale) for 9 months with no relief in sight and no healers on the horizon. I found it surprisingly comforting to know that I had this option. In fact, just knowing that I could walk through the door to oblivion gave me strength to continue to endure and seek more healers.
Do you think that suicide can ever shift from psychological pathology to reasonable choice?
From an article on the Atlanta News on elderly mercy killings by Marcus Garner:
In a two-week period last month, murder-suicides claimed the lives of two Metro Atlanta couples in their ‘80s.
In both cases, the husband was the caretaker of an ailing wife. And in both cases, the man shot and killed his long-time spouse before turning a gun on himself.
Were these deaths the result of depression, some level of domestic abuse, or were they the actions of a benevolent, merciful spouse?
Edward Travis, 86, executed a carefully-thought-out plan to kill himself and his wife of 60 years, 85-year-old Anne, who suffered from dementia.
George A. Doby, 87, killed himself after fatally shooting his 85-year-old wife, Edna, who suffered from Parkinson’s Disease.
Experts say assisted suicides among elderly couples aren’t that uncommon, and such arranged agreements are becoming more popular in Europe. The Violence and Injury Prevention Program in Tampa Bay, Fla. estimated between 300 and 500 murder-suicide deaths nationally each year of people over the age of 55.
Maggie Beck-Coon, with the Georgia Commission on Family Violence, sees them as one person exerting power over another. “I’m very troubled by the whole language of ‘mercy killings,’ because I don’t think I feel comfortable with someone else determining when you should die,” said Beck-Coon said.
Dr. Patrice Harris, a psychiatrist and director of Fulton County’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, cautions not to rush to judgment, however. “Often times, when people are thinking about suicide, they are feeling hopeless and helpless and see no way out of their situation,” Harris said. In particular, Harris said taking care of an ailing spouse late in life can add to the day-to-day stresses many elderly face: losing peers and family to illness and death, retirement, or dealing with one’s own deteriorating health.
Relatives of the Travis and Doby couples pointed to this hopelessness. “He didn’t want to be a burden,” Alan Doby said, speculating the motives of a father he described as proud. Mary Travis cited a letter from Edward Travis in characterizing his as a “mercy” killing: “‘I believe that everyone concerned will get along with me and Anne out of the picture,’” she read from the letter.