Gillian Bennett, Dementia, and Assisted Suicide

I will take my life today around noon. It is time. Dementia is taking its toll and I have nearly lost myself. I have nearly lost me. Jonathan, the straightest and brightest of men, will be at my side as a loving witness….

We do NOT talk much about how we die. Yet facing death is thoroughly interesting and absorbing and challenging. I have choices which I have reviewed, and either adopted or discarded. I think I have hit upon the right choice for me.

That is Gillian Bennett, a former clinical psychotherapist and wife of philosopher Jonathan Bennett, writing at a website she created to describe her situation and advocate for legalizing assisted suicide. She killed herself this past Monday.

On her website, she urges people to get living wills (advanced directives), and asks for a change in the way that suicide is treated.

Three outsize institutions: the medical profession, the Law, and the Church will challenge and fight any transformative change. Yet we all hear of changes in each of these professions that suggest a broader approach, guided and informed by empathy. My hope is that all of these institutions will continue to transform themselves, and that the medical profession will mandate, through sensitive and appropriate protocols, the administration of a lethal dose to end the suffering of a terminally ill patient, in accordance with her Living Will.

A news story about Gillian Bennett’s decision, which includes remarks from Jonathan Bennett and their children, Sara and Guy, is here.

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Shen-yi Liao
9 years ago

Not the same death, but here is an NPR story on another academic’s choice.

I found it especially helpful for the reference to a study that showed a planned death helps loved ones grieve better.