The Good Funeral Guide Blog

Should she or shouldn’t she?

Monday, 18 January 2010

When Charlotte Raven was diagnosed with Huntington’s, an incurable degenerative disease, there seemed only one option: suicide. But would deciding how and when to die really give her back the control she desperately craved? And what about the consequences for her husband and young daughter?

In 2006, 18 months after the birth of my baby, I tested positive for Huntington’s disease. The nurse who delivered the news hugged me consolingly and left me with my husband and a mug of sweet tea to cry. In the days that followed, I began to realise why so few of the people at risk of inheriting this incurable neurodegenerative disorder chose to find out.

Having tested positive for HD, I was told it was inevitable that I would develop the disease at some point – but that it was not possible to know when. HD typically strikes in midlife. A fortunate few like my father suffer no symptoms until as late as their 60s, but for most it begins in their late 30s to mid-40s. I am 40 years old.

My first suicidal thought was a kind of epiphany – like Batman figuring out his escape from the Joker’s death trap. It seemed very “me” to choose death over self-delusion. Ah ha, I thought. For the first time since the diagnosis, I slept through the night.

Very interesting article on self-deliverance/suicide in the Guardian. Long, but well worth it. Read it all here.

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