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No country for old men

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I've lived in rural eastern Oregon for 37 years, and in that time have known several suicides (HCN, 3/31/08). Some are variations on the scripts that Ring discusses.

But there is another type of suicide that is not unusual in the rural independent West - the elderly or terminal individual who clings to control over his or her own life until it is too burdensome or too burdensome on close ones. I was talking with friends about "My Crazy Brother"and we immediately came up with a handful of old-timers here - ranchers, foresters, teachers, barbers - who measured the quality of their lives and the impact their diminishing health was having on their spouse or partner, and chose to end things while they still had control. Although those left behind still feel loss and sadness, the quality of remembrance seems different in kind than that in the cases described by Ray Ring.

Although I hate to end the discussion of such serious matters on a statistical note, it just could be that this phenomenon is more prevalent in the West, and especially the rural West, than in other parts of the country, and therefore skews suicide statistics.

Rich Wandschneider Joseph, Oregon

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