Assisted suicide is illegal in most states in America although it's a badly kept secret that people do it all the time, sometimes even with the help of health care professionals. A little extra medication sent home, or what's known as VSED, which stands for voluntarily stopping eating and drinking (a choice that is legal), is employed.
A New Mexico couple, Armond and Dorothy Rudolph had lived wonderful lives and never wanted to die battling painful deaths and humiliating lives beforehand. A nursing home was the last thing they wanted. So in their early 90s, they found themselves chronically ill, with signs of dementia slowly emerging.
Upon entering an assisted living facility, they mutually decided that the time was right to end their long and happy lives before they became totally dependent on others. And they would do this together with their family and a hospice representative involved. They educated themselves on the option of VSED with an organization called Compassion and Choices.
Their assisted living facility, however, had other ideas and did their best to boot the couple out. The couple had been discovered a few days into their stoppage of food and drink and ordered them evicted the next day, which would have been day four. Their son said they should stay and besides, they had nowhere else to go.
The facility called 911 and reported two suicide attempts and ambulances were called out. Then the mayhem began. Because it's legal in all 50 states to take part in VSED, the couple were within their rights to do so. The hospital was aware of this and the doctor on call agreed to come out to the facility to intervene.
He spoke to the Rudolphs and accepted that the couple were perfectly capable of making their own decisions and had them sign that they did not want transportation to the hospital. He spoke to the higher-ups of the facility who still wanted to go forth with the eviction or hospitalization but the doctor said hospitalization, in this case, was unnecessary and the couple could not be forced to go.
Their adult children, wanting no more interference or stress for their parents, quickly relocated them to a rental house where they again began their VSED program. Rudolph died peacefully within ten days, with his wife following the next day.
Reaction to this story has been mixed. Most commentators have fully understood the right for any person to choose their method of death when faced with a terminal illness or extreme old age. But others understood the position of the facility that tried to evict them, and the legal and ethical ramifications they felt they may have faced upon the couple's deaths.
For more on this story, click here for the Compassionate Choices website: http://blog.compassionandchoices.org/?p=1592
Do you think people should be allowed to enact a legal VSED program in a facility, when all papers and waivers have been signed? Do you think the facility was right to proceed with an eviction? How do you feel about the facility calling 911 to report "suicide" attempts?
Edited by Jody Smith