By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair – Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
In September 2008, Lady Warnock, one of Britain’s leading moral philosophers stated in an interview that:
Pensioners in mental decline are “wasting people’s lives” because of the care they require and should be allowed to opt for euthanasia even if they are not in pain.
She insisted that there was “nothing wrong” with people being helped to die for the sake of their loved ones or society.
She hoped people will soon be “licensed to put others down” if they are unable to look after themselves.
The recent case of a physically healthy 75-year-old retired British nurse who died by assisted suicide in Switzerland further opens the door to pressure on the older people to die when she stated in her blog:
I have always suspected that an ideal shelf life for many people is about 70 years.
I am not a psychiatrist or a mental health professional, but Gil Pharoah, even though she states that she is not depressed, seems likely to be depressed when she stated in her blog:
I can no longer walk the distances I used to enjoy so the happy hours spent exploring the streets of London are just a memory now.
I cannot do the garden with the enthusiasm I once had and I find fifteen minutes is more than enough time spent weeding or digging. Even that short time can result in a day on the sofa or a visit to the osteopath.
My tinnitus [ringing in the ears] is a big distraction. My hearing loss is helped by using hearing aids, but the tinnitus seems to enjoy competition, and seems to increase in volume, to meet the increased external noise, so I find it impossible to talk in a group of more than four people, and often have to activate the subtitles on the TV. I do not enjoy the carnivals like Notting Hill or Gay Pride which I once so loved.
I do not have any desire to travel any more –there is nowhere I want to visit enough to spend hours in an aeroplane or airport.
I have always loved cooking but I find it an effort now and prefer to have a couple of friends for lunch rather than a large late dinner party. Not to mention the hundred and one other minor irritations like being unable to stand for long, carry a heavy shopping bag, run for a bus, remember the names of books I have read, or am reading, or their authors.
And I have a number of aches and pains which restrict my pleasure in life generally although none are totally incapacitating.
John Southall, Pharoah’s life partner, stated to ITV news that:
I had plenty of notice, so it’s not like it is perhaps for most couples when one dies unexpectedly.
Gill has always said she would never grow old. Her longest-standing friends say when she was in her thirties she said fifty would be enough. And then she said as time went on, sixty. Then it became seventy. And she got to seventy and started taking it more seriously.
These statements represent a dreariness towards living that is likely related to depression. Depression symptoms and warning signs include:
- Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness,
- Loss of interest in daily activities,
- Loss of energy
Pharoah also exhibited signs of suicidal ideation, a symptom of depression by exhibiting:
- An unusual pre-occupation with death and dying,
- Talking about killing or harming one-self,
- Saying this like “everyone would be better off without me” or “I want out.”
- A sudden switch from being extremely depressed to acting calm and happy.
Pharoah did not need suicide assistance, she needed good psychological care for what was likely a case of depression.
When further analyzed, this latest assisted suicide case should result in less support for assisted suicide when the House of Commons debates an assisted suicide bill next month.
Last year, a healthy Italian woman died at a Swiss suicide clinic because she was unhappy about how she looked. In April 2013, an Italian man died at a Swiss suicide clinic after receiving a wrong medical diagnosis.
Editor’s note. This appeared at alexschadenberg.blogspot.com.