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We were saddened to read about Gill Pharaoh, a 75-year-old, retired palliative care nurse from West London, who travelled to Lifecare, the assisted dying clinic in Switzerland, to end her own life. Ms Pharaoh was healthy and active, despite some of the restrictions of getting older.
Ms Pharaoh wanted to avoid being a burden on her children.
Care, Not Killing, a UK-based group which campaigns against assisted dying, has described the situation as “deeply troubling”. We would add that it is a tragic reflection of the low value placed on older adults within society.
Society abhors the increasing rate of death by suicide of young men, but finds it acceptable in an older lady. It is a continuing trend in society to judge those who are not perfect as being less worthy of life. Is society trying to contain its own anxiety about the inevitability of old age? There appears to be a deep-seated fear of becoming dependant on others. This, we believe, is an inevitable consequence of the breakdown of society’s appreciation for people along the entire lifespan and a fear of each other’s lack of compassion.
We wonder, to use a modern analogy, if we are entering the Logan’s Run phase of society, where, by virtue of the fact that we may become old and infirm, and thus require additional resources, it would be deemed acceptable for us to end our lives?
The Life Institute
Rialto Dublin 8
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