Suicide: a ‘Valid’ Option for the Elderly?

Viennese physician Dr. Susanne Kummer warned against the loss of sympathy as a result of the exemption from criminal prosecution for assisted suicide.

Newsroom (10/10/2022 10:31, Gaudium PressIn an interview with Austria’s largest newspaper, “Krone,” Susanne Kummer, director of the Institute for Medical Anthropology and Bioethics in Austria, pointed out that a point has been reached “where a climate is created in which the elderly feel that it would be better if they no longer exist.”

With the legalization of assisted suicide, which took place earlier this year under certain conditions, Austria threatens to follow in the footsteps of other countries. “In an international comparison, we see that assisted suicide and euthanasia are used by 85 percent of the elderly over 65 and very elderly people,” Kummer reported. In the Netherlands, there is even discussion of a bill that would allow everyone over 75 to buy a “last will pill” from pharmacies.

Loneliness and expenses

To avoid the loss of solidarity, especially with the elderly, it is important to “take a close look”. Loneliness and isolation of the elderly is a big problem, adding also the economic factor, because “care costs money”. Canada is showing how quickly a loss of solidarity can occur: they do “calculations of how many millions can be saved if someone dies prematurely.”

Even if this is sometimes presented differently, there are always alternatives to suicide, Kummer emphasized. The same applies to the elderly at the end of life. The “fear of getting worse” must be taken away from them.

Compiled Camille Mittermeier.

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