Human Exceptionalism

Pushing Elder Suicide in Slate

As we are in the midst of an elder-suicide crisis, we see elder suicide promoted within the assisted suicide movement and its camp followers in the media.

Now, continuing the recent pattern, the 2002 joint elder suicides of Admiral Chester Nimitz, Jr. and his wife Joan has been extolled in Slate. Euthanasia activist, Dr. Lewis. M. Cohen recounts how the Nimitzs’ killed themselves together. Members of the Hemlock Society, neither were terminally ill but experiencing the usual circumstances of octogenarians. According to Cohen, these suicides were, “Deaths With Dignity.”  From the piece:

Nurses were employed at their home to attend to Joan Nimitz’s worsening health problems, but the couple did not want to squander all of their money on such care. They were both appalled at the vast sums spent at the end of life to sustain people who were frail and sick and not likely to get better. They could clearly envision–and they rejected–the idea of spending their remaining years in a nursing facility. The admiral particularly worried his heart condition might suddenly worsen and his wife would be unable to commit suicide by herself. Joan Nimitz confided to the children that she, too, feared that without her husband’s help, she would not be in a position to ingest the barbiturate pills they had been stockpiling. The admiral told his daughter, “That’s the one last thing I have to do for your mother.”

It is appalling that such attitudes should be extolled rather than mourned. Anyone who loves and/or cares for elderly parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, friends, cousins, or others should understand that their loved ones are imperiled by such advocacy as explicitly promotes elder suicide as empowering and somehow the most “dignified”–at a time when elderly people worry about becoming burdens–which is our fault, not theirs. 

But this is where assisted suicide advocacy aims, with the terminal illness limitation being just a political ploy to get people to accept the principle that killing is an acceptable answer to the problems of suffering. As the Admiral’s daughter–fully supportive of her parents’ suicides–admits: 

Van Dorn appreciates that the [Vermont] law would not have directly helped her parents, as neither had a “terminal” disease. She understands that a civil rights movement, such as death with dignity, takes politically expedient and incremental steps. She anticipates that in the future the infirmities and suffering of advanced age may also qualify people to request this option (as is presently true in Belgium, Switzerland, and the Netherlands). Meanwhile, one more American state will allow its citizens further control at the end of life. And Van Dorn is looking forward to the day “when kids and their parents will regularly sit around the dining room table and talk about end-of-life issues the way you talk about college planning. Because, after all it is just another kind of planning.”

In other words, planning suicides over coffee.

So, where is the Suicide Prevention Community? Silent! Perhaps afraid of being controversial–which never stops the pro-suicide crowd–they gently discuss suicide prevention, often in the narrowest of terms, and certainly rarely (if ever) publicly opposing assisted suicide. Indeed, usually the topic isn’t mentioned. Meanwhile, suicide promotion is growing increasingly brazen–which substantially explains why each year “invisible Suicide Prevention Day” comes and goes, making nary a ripple.

NR Staff — Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

Most Popular


The Book Comey Wanted to Write

Making the click-through worthwhile: the book James Comey had wanted to write, Facebook starts to feel useless to some writers, an infamous D.C. city councilman manages to make everything worse, and Hillary Clinton’s campaign finds its wish granted. What Did James Comey’s First Draft of A Higher ... Read More
White House

James Comey’s Stellar Windiness

A Higher Loyalty, by former FBI director James Comey, is far more fascinating for its odd omissions than for what it says. For starters, after 277 pages, readers still don’t have a clear picture of what Comey thinks of Hillary Clinton. Early coverage of the book focused on the former FBI director’s ... Read More
White House

The Real Case of Collusion

As the likelihood that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia seems headed toward zero, the likelihood of proof of a different form of collusion seems headed upward toward certainty. The Russia-collusion charge had some initial credibility because of businessman Donald Trump's dealings in Russia and candidate ... Read More
Film & TV

Pro-Life Feminist

My paisana at the Human Life Review are hosting an event in NYC on Thursday, May 3, at the Sheen Center (18 Bleeker Street) for the airing of director Jim Hanon’s half-hour documentary, Pro-Life Feminist. After the viewing, he’ll join the trio of castmates -- Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, Aimee Murphy, and ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Good News for Pompeo

Looks like he's in, as he should be. But this fight has been a hint of what life will be like for Trump if the Democrats somehow take the Senate -- they'd refuse to confirm anyone for anything. Read More

What Self-Help Guru Tony Robbins Was Trying to Say

Tony Robbins must have known immediately that he'd made a huge mistake in how he responded to a question about #MeToo. Last month, at one of Robbins's popular, sold-out seminars, audience member Nanine McCool told the self-help guru that she thought he misunderstood the #MeToo movement. You can see the entire ... Read More

The Dominant-Sport Theory of American Politics

I think it’s safe to assert that President Trump has an unfortunate tendency to do and say (and tweet) embarrassing things. When he does, we all join in the condemnation, and often it’s not so much for the substance as for the style. The president of the United States should be dignified, measured, slow to ... Read More