Should Early Prediction of a Personal and Family Quality of Life Disaster Lead One to Consider Suicide?
If scientific research can lead to tests which can predict that years ahead an individual will develop symptoms of quality of life destructive disease and one that is currently unpreventable and untreatable, should that individual plan now how to cope with the prediction? For example, should the individual seriously consider ending his or her life prematurely through suicide at some point rather than awaiting suffering and loss of any acceptable quality of one’s life?
One example is predictive testing for Alzheimer’s disease. Parens and Johnson writing in TIME set a social duty now to consider the pros and cons of suicide or assisted suicide decisions made by individuals prior to becoming severely symptomatic with diseases such as Alzheimer’s. They write:
“It is time to listen to and take seriously those people who, upon seeing their own parents spend years, even decades, suffering with Alzheimer's, say that they refuse to expose their partner or children to the same. We cannot ignore competent people who say they would rather die than no longer recognize their children or the partner with whom they built a life. Nor should we dismiss those who say that they can't themselves afford to pay for years of nursing home care, don't want their children saddled with that expense, or would rather that the money be used for their grandchildren's education.
When it becomes possible to detect Alzheimer's disease before it has progressed, these arguments will no longer be academic. The question for our society, including our legal system, medical practitioners, religious institutions and patient support groups, is whether we will dismiss those who make these arguments as depressed and misguided or whether we will engage with them on their terms.”
Well, what do you think? Can you begin a societal discussion about the rational planning of suicide in the face of early prediction of a disease such as Alzheimer’s? ..Maurice.