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Foolish Mortal
07-15-2009, 03:06 PM
FULL STORY: Conductor dies in suicide centre (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/arts_and_culture/8149166.stm)


Renowned British conductor Sir Edward Thomas Downes, CBE, has died at the age of 85, after travelling to the assisted suicide centre Dignitas with his wife.

He and his 74-year-old wife Joan, who was terminally ill, chose to end their lives at the Swiss centre, their family said in a statement.

According to the statement, the couple "died peacefully, and under circumstances of their own choosing".

Sir Edward had a 40-year relationship with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra.

"Our father, who was 85 years old, almost blind and increasingly deaf, had a long, vigorous and distinguished career as a conductor," his family said.

"Our mother, who was 74, started her career as a ballet dancer and subsequently worked as a choreographer and TV producer, before dedicating the last years of her life to working as our father's personal assistant.

"They both lived life to the full and considered themselves to be extremely lucky to have lived such rewarding lives, both professionally and personally.

"After 54 happy years together, they decided to end their own lives rather than continue to struggle with serious health problems."

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said their deaths were being investigated by Greenwich CID, as assisted suicide is illegal in Britain under the Suicide Act.

At least 115 people from the UK have gone to Switzerland to die but, as yet, no-one has been prosecuted.

This is expected to stir up some shit with the pro assisted-suicide and anti assisted-suicide assisted people because while Edward Downes' wife was terminally ill, he was not.

Treacle
07-15-2009, 03:10 PM
I really don't understand the argument against people rationally and willfully choosing the way they want to leave this life.

Suicide, if it's a product of mental illness or reversible circumstances, is unequivocally bad.

Choosing to die because you feel you've lived a long and happy life, though? I don't see what's so wrong with that.

Kurt Russell Crowe
07-15-2009, 03:12 PM
Good for them. Save a little dignity there at the end, it's what I would want if I was lucid and rapidly going blind and deaf and/or dying of a terminal disease.

Ryan Elliott
07-15-2009, 03:13 PM
Man, if I wasn't already depressed as fuck ENOUGH.

RebootedCorpse
07-15-2009, 03:13 PM
I really don't understand the argument against people rationally and willfully choosing the way they want to leave this life.

Suicide, if it's a product of mental illness or reversible circumstances, is unequivocally bad.

Choosing to die because you feel you've lived a long and happy life, though? I don't see what's so wrong with that.

This.
Having control of your own body is a fundamental human right.

JesterPepper?
07-15-2009, 03:28 PM
When I saw the title of the thread I thought "train conductor."


Good for them. Save a little dignity there at the end, it's what I would want if I was lucid and rapidly going blind and deaf and/or dying of a terminal disease.

Being deaf and blind is undignified?

information
07-15-2009, 03:30 PM
Sounds like they went out with their dignity. And together, which is sweet.

NickT
07-15-2009, 03:38 PM
I really don't understand the argument against people rationally and willfully choosing the way they want to leave this life.

Suicide, if it's a product of mental illness or reversible circumstances, is unequivocally bad.

Choosing to die because you feel you've lived a long and happy life, though? I don't see what's so wrong with that.
I think one argument is that someone could be influenced into it.


Also with your point three, choosing to die because you feel you've lived a long and happy life. What if they've lived a short life? What if they choose to commit suicide over something minor?

Prime
07-15-2009, 03:49 PM
Being deaf and blind is undignified?

Being a music conducter, with a loving wife, to being a man alone with no way way to communicate, you might be able to talk, but you wouldnt be able to get responses. also getting around would be almost impossible.

i'd consider that a rather shitty existence.

Even without that though, why should anyone be able to tell another person they can't end their life?

And I don't want a religious answer....

Foolish Mortal
07-15-2009, 03:59 PM
From all that I've read about Sir Edward, his wife and his music meant everything to him. They were his life. I guess going on without his wife, and eventually losing his music was not the life he wanted to live.

Jason California
07-15-2009, 04:01 PM
I really don't understand the argument against people rationally and willfully choosing the way they want to leave this life.

Suicide, if it's a product of mental illness or reversible circumstances, is unequivocally bad.

Choosing to die because you feel you've lived a long and happy life, though? I don't see what's so wrong with that.


What about an elderly person that chooses this route because they are feel they are an undue burden on family members or are pressured? I agree that a person should be able to choose the time and place of their death if the so choose, but can see where the influence of other could lead to it happening and isn't that how most of these laws are innacted?

Magnum V.I.
07-15-2009, 04:35 PM
You can never die dignified. Ever. There is no dignity in it, there is no honor in it, it just is.

Garth
07-15-2009, 05:22 PM
You can never die dignified. Ever. There is no dignity in it, there is no honor in it, it just is.

What if you lower yourself into molten hot metal like Arnold does in T2? And don't forgive a thumbs up on the way down.

Magnum V.I.
07-15-2009, 07:20 PM
What if you lower yourself into molten hot metal like Arnold does in T2? And don't forgive a thumbs up on the way down.

That's dying cool. Like if you wore a leather jacket, and aviator glasses as you ride a motorcycle into the flames of hell.

Treacle
07-15-2009, 07:28 PM
I think one argument is that someone could be influenced into it.

Also with your point three, choosing to die because you feel you've lived a long and happy life. What if they've lived a short life? What if they choose to commit suicide over something minor?

1) They didn't.

2) That's not what I said.

I believe choosing to end your life, if it's done rationally and willfully (that is, not as the product of some pathology, like mental illness) is a fundamental human right, and a part of giving people basic dignity and autonomy.

You can come up with millions of "What if?" scenarios, and I really don't care. I believe exactly what I posted above.

Treacle
07-15-2009, 07:31 PM
What about an elderly person that chooses this route because they are feel they are an undue burden on family members or are pressured? I agree that a person should be able to choose the time and place of their death if the so choose, but can see where the influence of other could lead to it happening and isn't that how most of these laws are innacted?

Being coerced into doing something is pretty much the opposite of willfully choosing something.

I'm not sure why people are neglecting the carefully chosen, extremely important words I included in my response like "willfully" and "rationally."

Furthermore, people can always find a loophole or twist a law around...that doesn't mean the law is a bad idea or that giving people basic autonomy is a bad idea. These "what if" arguments are a bit like saying, "Well, what if people lie about being robbed? We should totally make robbery legal." or "What if people make a bad decision about their own medical care? We should totally leave it up to the state to make these decisions for people." That's highly flawed reasoning.

NickT
07-15-2009, 07:32 PM
1) They didn't.

2) That's not what I said.

I believe choosing to end your life, if it's done rationally and willfully (that is, not as the product of some pathology, like mental illness) is a fundamental human right, and a part of giving people basic dignity and autonomy.

You can come up with millions of "What if?" scenarios, and I really don't care. I believe exactly what I posted above.
1) THEY didn't, but you were talking about the issue in general.



And the point with What If scenarios is that when you are talking about wether a general issue like this is right nor not, what ifs are what shape your opinions. That's why I have no strong opinion either way, because the what ifs go in all directions.

Treacle
07-15-2009, 07:37 PM
1) THEY didn't, but you were talking about the issue in general.

And the point with What If scenarios is that when you are talking about wether a general issue like this is right nor not, what ifs are what shape your opinions. That's why I have no strong opinion either way, because the what ifs go in all directions.

And what I'm saying is that there are an infinite number of potential "what if?" scenarios, and considering them all would not only be a waste of time but completely ignore the core issue, which I believe is people's right to choose the way they want to live and die.

Treacle
07-15-2009, 07:41 PM
You can never die dignified. Ever. There is no dignity in it, there is no honor in it, it just is.

Okay. Maybe you could agree that there are degrees of indignity, though?

For example, a public execution is a highly undignified way of dying compared to being a terminally ill cancer patient who takes a lethal dose of sleeping pills.

If it's your argument that death is always undignified, I don't see why you'd object to people choose the less undignified option on the scale.

Ryan Elliott
07-15-2009, 07:41 PM
That's dying cool. Like if you wore a leather jacket, and aviator glasses as you ride a motorcycle into the flames of hell.


That's how I want to die.

Magnum V.I.
07-15-2009, 07:58 PM
Okay. Maybe you could agree that there are degrees of indignity, though?

For example, a public execution is a highly undignified way of dying compared to being a terminally ill cancer patient who takes a lethal dose of sleeping pills.

If it's your argument that death is always undignified, I don't see why you'd object to people choose the less undignified option on the scale.

Because I think it's hard to prove that someone rationally and willfully wants to end their life.


Once you add terminal illness and a lifetime of pain to it, it's no longer a rational decision but a decision of avoiding prolonged pain.


I'm not saying a terminal patient SHOULDN'T have a right to die, I'm saying it's a not a rational decision.

Treacle
07-15-2009, 08:25 PM
Because I think it's hard to prove that someone rationally and willfully wants to end their life.

Once you add terminal illness and a lifetime of pain to it, it's no longer a rational decision but a decision of avoiding prolonged pain.

I'm not saying a terminal patient SHOULDN'T have a right to die, I'm saying it's a not a rational decision.

Okay. I think that's a fair argument.

JesterPepper?
07-15-2009, 09:17 PM
Being a music conducter, with a loving wife, to being a man alone with no way way to communicate, you might be able to talk, but you wouldnt be able to get responses. also getting around would be almost impossible.

i'd consider that a rather shitty existence.

Even without that though, why should anyone be able to tell another person they can't end their life?

You're making too many assumptions here.

Your first assumption was that I was talking about the music conductor's situation. I wasn't. It was Kurt's generalized correlation between being deaf & blind and indignity that I took issue with. There's an implication in his statement, one which he wasn't the first to make, that deaf & blind (or insert disability here) people lead meaningless, wretched lives and automatically have grounds for suicide. On the contrary, there are many cases where deaf & blind people lead lives that are fulfilling and happy. Unfortunately, because of the myth that being disabled (like in hearing and sight) infallibly renders you useless and permanently unhappy, that it makes you less than human, newly disabled people are often convinced that their lives have already ended, that suicide is the only answer left, when that is definitely not the case.

Maybe Kurt's wording was just careless, and it didn't actually reflect his perspective, but I couldn't let it go unaddressed because that is how so many people think. You, on the other hand, clearly carry that prejudice.

Your second wrong assumption was that I disapproved of what the music conductor and his wife did. Based on the facts provided here, I actually quite support their decision. I also approve of the basic idea of suicide centers, for reasons of suicide safety and reduction.

Your third wrong assumption brings us back to what I was talking about above, that it's commonly believed people who are both blind & deaf are incapable of communicating, getting around, independence, and having lives that are not shitty. It's an ignorant, outright insulting opinion. In the first place, a lot people think that deafness means one can't hear anything at all, which is false. Each deafness is unique, and (I'm oversimplifying) what frequencies deaf people can and cannot hear varies. There's still some room for certain deaf people to get an auditory response and perhaps develop a form of communication that way. Even if the hypothetical deaf & blind person had the kind of deafness where he-or-she couldn't hear anything at all--and even if they didn't--he-or-she could still communicate using touch, like Helen Keller feeling alphabet signs in a conversation (there might be more modern methods now). As for getting around a hearing and sighted world, one finds tricks and conveniences to do just that. Not to mention that technological advances are soaring, and there are becoming more and more ways to increase the independence of a disabled person. For example, right now they're figuring out how to regenerate hair cells.

Did you do research to arrive at your conclusion? Or are you deaf and blind and you speak from experience? Or was your conclusion based on a “omg, what if I were blind and deaf” daydream you had one lazy afternoon?

Sure, having a disability(ies) is usually tough. But it doesn't mean life is impossible, and it certainly isn't undignified. I know because (surprise surprise) I have a profound hearing loss. Besides, who out there doesn't have a hardship in their life?

I'm reminded of a conversation I had with Christian fundamentalist last year, who was trying to convert me, probing for weaknesses to exploit (otherwise, he was a pretty nice guy). Of course, he focused on my hearing loss. He kept talking as if my disability was the fecal... ahem, focal point of my being, that I was invariably dismayed by the gift his god didn't bestow me. I had to tell him that, although hearing loss is a significant part of my life, I don't really think about it too much compared to other parts of my life. Deafness itself is something I'm used to, the challenges are a given--I try to solve them according to the situation, sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing. I'm more preoccupied with the book I'm reading, or politics, or work, or my friends and family, or what I'm going to eat for dinner. In other words, I have a life. The main difficulty of being deaf doesn't come from being restricted from some auditory aspects of life, it comes from facing the prejudices of people who aren't deaf. The people who view me as a stereotype, a two-dimensional charity case, a punchline, a burden, a moron, a defect, or just a person defined by his deafness, a person without a life. Then I said to him, “I can't believe you made me say this maudlin crap.”

If you're still convinced that people who are severely disabled have inevitably shitty lives (in reality, some do, but not all), if you actually had any concern for their well-being, you would not enable them to commit suicide. You would devote some of your energy to assist the disabled minority in making the world more accessible for them, to raise awareness (that requires becoming aware yourself, btw), to treat them like equals. Of course, it'd be much easier for an abled person if a disabled person alleviated the suffering by dying and became one less person to interfere with a society that already had it figured out for most people ability-wise (“Dammit, stairs work just fine for me, and now we need ramps?!”) That's why eugenics was so popular with intellectuals (George Bernard Shaw) and world leaders (Winston Churchill) until WWII put it out of vogue.



As for your question, however misdirected it may be, “why should anyone be able to tell another person they can't end their life?” Well, if you ever have a reason to tell them they can't end their life, it's probably best that you don't hold back. It is a major life (death?) decision after all, and I'm sure your input, if effective, would be appreciated.

But I know you were actually asking why should anyone be able to keep another person from ending their life. Well, there are times when you shouldn't, and there are times when you should. If someone's in constant, tremendous pain, it's probably a good idea to let them go peacefully if they want to. If someone is temporarily depressed because his girlfriend broke up with him, or suicidal because of mental illness, or he exaggerates a fear he doesn't understand (like a disability), they should probably be restrained. It's like not allowing a drunk to sleep in a comfy spot in the middle of the road.



And I don't want a religious answer....

Dude, I have Michael Bakunin in my sig. Don't worry.

WillieLee
07-15-2009, 09:23 PM
Now they'll burn in hell.

Jef UK
07-15-2009, 09:36 PM
I think it's sort of beautiful.

Kurt Russell Crowe
07-15-2009, 10:03 PM
We're talking about an octogenarian's body literally falling apart, not someone's life and/or lifestyle changing because of a disability. Though we can all appreciate the eloquent post, Pep.

Ben
07-15-2009, 10:06 PM
I've had several relatives die the normal, non-suicide way by slowly wasting away, and I fail to see how it's undignified.

That said, I think people should be allowed to kill themselves if they have a terminal illness that will kill them slowly and painfully.

Treacle
07-15-2009, 10:29 PM
...

Wow...that was a really great post. Thank you for writing it.

Foolish Mortal
07-15-2009, 10:30 PM
Because I think it's hard to prove that someone rationally and willfully wants to end their life.


Once you add terminal illness and a lifetime of pain to it, it's no longer a rational decision but a decision of avoiding prolonged pain.


I'm not saying a terminal patient SHOULDN'T have a right to die, I'm saying it's a not a rational decision.
What if they make the decision if they're not terminally ill?

What if a guy tells his family that if should the time come that he's diagnosed with a disease and the prognosis is terminal, that he intends to end his life before he begins to suffer?

Magnum V.I.
07-16-2009, 12:00 PM
What if they make the decision if they're not terminally ill?

What if a guy tells his family that if should the time come that he's diagnosed with a disease and the prognosis is terminal, that he intends to end his life before he begins to suffer?

I have just never seen suicide as a rational answer to anything. Illness or not.


Maybe someone can enlighten me on it though. The whole pull the plug on me argument aside.


I only ever want to be taken off life support when I no longer have a functioning brain. As in, I am in a PVS with no hope or chance of return.

That's the only time I think someone should be allowed to die, but then again any terminal death is always circumstantial.

Rosemary's Baby
07-16-2009, 12:06 PM
I think it's sort of beautiful.

That's what I was thinking. It's almost sweet.

Generic Poster
07-16-2009, 12:17 PM
But what if someone wanders into the suicide place thinking it's a dentists' office, and they think they're going to get their wisdom teeth out, but then they accidentally commit suicide?

Foolish Mortal
07-16-2009, 12:28 PM
I have just never seen suicide as a rational answer to anything. Illness or not.


Maybe someone can enlighten me on it though. The whole pull the plug on me argument aside.


I only ever want to be taken off life support when I no longer have a functioning brain. As in, I am in a PVS with no hope or chance of return.

That's the only time I think someone should be allowed to die, but then again any terminal death is always circumstantial.
So you're saying that someone in good physical health and with all of their mental faculties still cannot make a calm and rational decision on how they want to die?

Magnum V.I.
07-16-2009, 12:48 PM
So you're saying that someone in good physical health and with all of their mental faculties still cannot make a calm and rational decision on how they want to die?

They can.

I just don't see how suicide is ever rational. Period.


I need a good explanation of it. As a human being and hell, as an animal your survival instinct is it's strongest, to go against that in any extreme capacity does not compute to me.

Treacle
07-16-2009, 07:29 PM
They can.

I just don't see how suicide is ever rational. Period.


I need a good explanation of it. As a human being and hell, as an animal your survival instinct is it's strongest, to go against that in any extreme capacity does not compute to me.

Humans go against their "instincts" all the time. Partly because we don't have very many, and partly because we have these really big brains. Insisting that something must be irrational or unnatural because it defies instinct (which is not a rational process in the first place) is a fairly flimsy argument because the vast majority of human culture has nothing to do with instinct. As a matter of fact, I would argue our ability to defy instinct is a major part of what makes us human.

That said, I believe there are circumstances in which suicide is rational. It may never be a rational decision for you, and that's okay. But to insist that because it's bad for you it must therefore be bad for everyone else just seems a bit narrow-minded. More than a bit, actually.

Magnum V.I.
07-16-2009, 07:38 PM
Humans go against their "instincts" all the time. Partly because we don't have very many, and partly because we have these really big brains. Insisting that something must be irrational or unnatural because it defies instinct (which is not a rational process in the first place) is a fairly flimsy argument because the vast majority of human culture has nothing to do with instinct. As a matter of fact, I would argue our ability to defy instinct is a major part of what makes us human.

That said, I believe there are circumstances in which suicide is rational. It may never be a rational decision for you, and that's okay. But to insist that because it's bad for you it must therefore be bad for everyone else just seems a bit narrow-minded. More than a bit, actually.

I never said it was bad. I just said it's irrational.

No one has yet to give me a good, rational explanation of killing yourself.

Especially if your perfectly healthy.

As I said before, one you start factoring in terminal illnesses, it becomes less a rational decision and more a less suffering decision.

Treacle
07-16-2009, 07:40 PM
I never said it was bad. I just said it's irrational.

No one has yet to give me a good, rational explanation of killing yourself.

Especially if your perfectly healthy.

As I said before, one you start factoring in terminal illnesses, it becomes less a rational decision and more a less suffering decision.

Ok.