- Ethical Questions in the Age of Modern Medicine
Suppose, as death approaches, someone refuses food or treatment. She knows she’s dying and she feels she can’t bear it any more. Is that considered suicide?
Again, it depends. If she refuses food with the intention of dying prematurely, then it is wrong. But if she stops taking food or medicine, saying, “Let me die peacefully; don’t disturb me,” that’s a different thing. It all depends on the volition. If the volition is to die quickly, it’s wrong. If the volition is to die peacefully, it’s totally different.
Doctors in the West treat patients as long as they can. However, when they decide that nothing more can be done medically, there is a system by which patients are allowed to return home and are provided nursing care so they can die peacefully in familiar surroundings. Usually, all that’s given for treatment is palliative medication, and care and comfort.
Wonderful! Very good! This is the humane way. If he is dying and there is no further treatment, it is better to take him home to a good atmosphere. Create a Dhamma atmosphere. Let him die peacefully, in comfort. Good.
Na antalikkhe na samuddamajjhe,
na pabbatānaṃ vivaraṃ pavissa;
Na vijjatī so jagatippadeso,
yatthaṭṭhitaṃ nappasaheyya maccu. Not in the sky,
not in the middle of the ocean,
not even in the cave of a mountain should one seek refuge; for there exists no place in the world
where one will not be overpowered by death.