EXIT HOUSE: Choosing Suicide as an Alternative by Jo Roman

EXIT HOUSE: Choosing Suicide as an Alternative

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An impassioned argument for the option of rational suicide, written by the artist who took her own life--an act planned with the assistance of family and friends--more than a year ago. Although others have written on the subject with as much conviction (Marya Mannes in Last Rights, Doris Portwood in Common Sense Suicide), no one has presented suicide in Roman's terms--as a final creative act--and included personal history and specific plans as part of the case. Roman, whose ideas about suicide were ""simmering"" for years before her cancer was diagnosed, had already elected to end her life at age 75 when, she calculated, declining quality would make living less enjoyable. Sudden illness changed her timetable but not her resolve. She found friends and family who supported her decision for a ""swift, painless, and irreversible death,"" but she had some difficulty securing the means: many doctors were either ignorant of appropriate medication or reluctant to discuss the possibilities with her. None could legally prescribe a lethal dose of anything--a pharmacological problem easy enough to solve--so friends added to her supply. Roman also wished for a special place, neither her home nor a hospice, suitable for the act. It is these ideas--an Exit Pill, Exit House--which she is most eager to share here and which, along with her decision to forgo life-extending medical intervention, so provoked viewers of the PBS documentary, filmed before her death, which was aired this fall. Whatever one's beliefs, it is impossible to read this without involvement or strong reaction. Roman may be neither the most eloquent nor the most exemplary spokesperson for this point of view--her own history is somewhat unconventional--but she identified and overcame the obstacles to rational suicide and left a useful legacy in the doing.

Pub Date: Jan. 19th, 1980
Publisher: Seaview--dist. by Harper & Row