Four Corners - Final Call
Lorna, Richard and Muriel lead lives that are rich and full – but they intend to deliberately end their lives when they think the time is right. They are among an increasingly activist minority of elderly Australians who say they will commit suicide before they are overtaken by frailty, illness or dependence. Such a radical step, they claim, is a final act of self-determination and a human right.
Most of the elderly people who speak to Four Corners are supported in their fateful decisions by spouses or adult children. But in some cases there is intense anguish. Some doctors and ethicists are disturbed by what they see as the extremism of elderly people deciding to commit suicide. They worry that it reflects a growing view that to be old and in need of care is to lack dignity, to be a burden on society.
Janine Cohen's report will unsettle some viewers and spark public debate. But as Australia grows older - by the time most baby boomer survivors hit their mid-80s the number of elderly people will have increased 400 per cent - it is a discussion the nation has to have. Is this start of a new phenomenon?
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