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. 2018 May;66(5):998-1001.
doi: 10.1111/jgs.15263. Epub 2018 Mar 2.

Rational Suicide in Elderly Adults: A Clinician's Perspective

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Rational Suicide in Elderly Adults: A Clinician's Perspective

Meera Balasubramaniam. J Am Geriatr Soc. .

Abstract

Geriatricians are increasingly encountering older adults expressing suicidal wishes in the absence of overt mental illness. This is expected to grow as life expectancy increases. This article describes the case of an older adult who expressed the wish to end his life in the absence of a diagnosable mental illness. Although he had chronic medical illnesses, he was not terminally ill. The complex subject of rational suicide in elderly adults is approached from a clinician's perspective. Issues of ageism, gerontophobia, and changing perspectives on death are highlighted. The experience of being a Baby Boomer and its influence on rational suicide is reviewed. Finally, clinical topics such as aging, frailty, dependence on younger and healthier individuals, and the older adult's need for a sense of control are explored.

Keywords: assisted suicide; ethics; rational suicide; unconscious motivations.

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