At what age would you like to die, and why?

A discussion on Friday’s Daily Circuit dug into issues raised by Ezekiel Emanuel, who writes in the Atlantic that he’d like to die at age 75. Emanuel, a doctor and medical ethicist, says he doesn’t intend to commit suicide – only that he’ll stop getting preventive medical attention and let nature take its course.

He writes:

At 75 and beyond, I will need a good reason to even visit the doctor and take any medical test or treatment, no matter how routine and painless. And that good reason is not “It will prolong your life.” I will stop getting any regular preventive tests, screenings, or interventions. I will accept only palliative—not curative—treatments if I am suffering pain or other disability.

Once I have lived to 75, my approach to my health care will completely change. I won’t actively end my life. But I won’t try to prolong it, either.

Today’s question: At what age would you like to die, and why?





  • goinpeace

    I agree with his approach to old age. There is nothing worse than the 80-yr-old going through chemo therapy or a 98-yr-old getting a total hip. I’ve witnessed both & the outcomes for both was death within 6 months. I was convinced that their quality of life could have been wonderful had these people just taken a natural course, but instead they declined rapidly & were a burden for all. And this is saying nothing about the huge expense to our health care system.

  • reggie

    I’m not sure I will go as far as Emanuel in abruptly stopping all routine care, but I agree with his general premise that the body should be allowed to decay with dignity. (As if we can do anything about it, anyway…) Death may be scary, but it’s nothing to be afraid of.

    Even using the available tools like a living will and a health care directive, there are many societal pressures that compel extreme medical interventions well past the point of reason. I just hope my kids understand and appreciate just how strongly I don’t want to “live” if I can’t be active and self-sustaining. Future generations are depending on us to give up more gracefully.

  • Jon

    Eleventy-one for me