Death panic

Death is an emotive issue, but one that also needs to be approached unemotionally at some point

There is a degree of obsessiveness – in an entirely healthy sense – about wanting to be in control of one’s own life. For some people, this includes being in control of the moments just before one of life’s biggest events – that of one’s own demise. Realising it is not as simple as throwing oneself off a bridge (a generally unreliable tactic!), many people research methods of taking things into one’s own hands if the going should get too rough. In today’s financial climate, ‘going to Switzerland’ is not an option open to everyone!

There are two psychological responses that seem quite common to people working out these details.

  1. A sense of relief. A sense of reduced uncertainty. A sense of knowing that one can ‘cope’ – whatever the circumstances that arise. Most people who work out the methods of rational suicide never have need of that final key to the door marked exit, but they gain immense strength from knowing.
  2. Some people obsess about methods of dying to a less healthy degree. It’s not necessarily a fear of death – probably more a fear of dying badly, of pain or suffering before the final ‘out.’ They can read as much scientific evidence as they like, hear or see first hand, and yet there is still a nagging doubt. They pick up on all the scare stories and rumours and constantly ask, “what if?”

A certain amount of “what if” is, of course, both scientific and entirely healthy. We encourage members to question even the information we provide – not because of flaws, but because the only way they will be certain is of they follow our research and understand it themselves. There’s over 400 references in our main book, and many more are answered in the workshops. But some people will still worry. After all, just because the sun rose today and the day before, there is philosophically no proof that it will rise tomorrow! What if my helium bag is an inch smaller than his? Isn’t nitrogen more ‘natural’ than helium? Shouldn’t I get some (usually difficult to obtain) drug, just to be sure?

Some methods have a greater chance of making a mistake than others. Some have more serious consequences in the event that proper procedures weren’t followed. But the data on the main methods is fairly overpowering. It comes down to knowing how to recognise reliable evidence when you see it, and then relaxing! Knowing how to die gives you the freedom to enjoy life to the full, or to the fullest that your condition allows.

Another way of approaching this is to say, “What’s the worst that can happen?” The will to live is very strong, very strong indeed. If someone feels so strongly that their suffering is unrelievable and unbearable, they will probably find a way to die. This is different to just feeling very depressed with a burdensome disease or situation. The place of right-to-die organisations that research methods is simply to find out ways of making sure there are ways that are less painful or not painful at all.

There are two stages to suicide (this applies to both rational and non-rational suicide).

  1. The first is an emotional response. “Feeling suicidal.” This is a very different state of mind to the second stage, which is:
  2. Making a plan. To make a plan requires not emotion but careful thought. People generally don’t enter this stage until they have made the decision. But for those planning for the eventuality of ending life by their own hand, a non-emotional phase – a sort of mental ‘dress-rehearsal’ – is essential.
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