Is “rational suicide” the only option?


For those of us caring for loved ones with dementia, we are often fighting a battle to honor their wishes and ensure the best life they can lead. My mother started joking about how we should take her out in my early 20s. I lived near my parents and saw them two and three times a week as an adult. My life as a caregiver started in my late 40s.

My Mom was the most vocal. She would often see something and say “If that happens to me, take me out.”  She gave me choices over the years from “push Granise’s chest on me” to “put a pillow over my head”.

As the dementia started to win, I had many discussions with my siblings over my angst. Mom was very clear, but I had no way to honor her wishes … without possibly going to prison.

I have talked about many of the choices we can make to better align with a loved ones wishes previously, but am always happy to share for anyone struggling with something right now. Please know you will make the best choice you can with the information you have today. Those you are caring for are lucky to have you in their life.

If you have something you’d like to discuss, put your notes in comments and I will respond (just put PRIVATE if you do not want it shared as a comment on this post).

Apparently, there is a growing movement for “rational suicide”. You can learn more about this in an article from The Washingon Post. I have internally grappled with this idea for years. I applaud the move to assisted suicide, but someone with any form of cognitive impairment doesn’t qualify. I think this is incredibly unfair, but have no idea how we solve it.

I in no way want to diminish the move to help individuals that are suffering with suicidal thoughts. I believe it is a mental illness that has sadly hit very close to my own home.

So now I feel compelled to give air to this topic. We should not be forcing people to commit “rational suicide” if they have passed a threshold in which everyday living requires them to rely on others to be. I know I would LOVE an option as would many of the individuals and families I work with daily.

Anyone out there with some options? Wished. 

4 thoughts on “Is “rational suicide” the only option?

  1. Have you written a note that includes your wishes? some lawyers call this an “ethical will” but don’t let the name fool you. I would draft up your thoughts and give them to your loved ones now, and maybe readdress, remind, discuss them at least once a year.

  2. I believe in the choice of rational suicide. Dementia is hell and there’s no cure. You can’t recognize where you are, what day or time it is, your age, your own family members, etc. That is very terrifying and nothing can comfort people in the later stages, sedation is basically the only option. I see my grandma suffering through it and I don’t want that for myself. I think I would choose it but I wouldn’t make that choice for my grandma. She was Catholic and doesn’t believe in suicide.

Leave a Reply