J.D. Tuccille Says We Should Check Out on Our Own Terms



Every couple of years, some well-intentioned scribbler pens a hand-wringer about the national tragedy of suicide among the elderly. "Suicide rate for elderly men is alarming," noted Dennis Streets in the Chatham Journal last month. "Suicide rates are high among the elderly," cautioned Paula Span in a 2013 New York Times article. "Elderly are at highest risk for suicide," the AP warned in 2007. Apparently, some of our nation's senior citizens have been deciding for years to check out when they please rather than waiting for the hand of time.

It's true that not every suicidal impulse should be treated as a brilliant idea, writes J.D. Tuccille. Such an irreversible act seems especially perverse among the young and healthy. But for people for whom death is a looming reality, the decision by some to slightly adjust the date, place, and manner of their demise can be a rational effort to take control of their ultimate fate and retain a little dignity.