Advance Directives, Preemptive Suicide and Emergency Medicine Decision Making


As the United States population ages, there is a growing group of aging, elderly, individuals who may consider "preemptive suicide"(Prado, 1998). Healthy aging patients who preemptively attempt to end their life by suicide and who have clearly expressed a desire not to have life -sustaining treatment present a clinical and public policy challenge. We describe the clinical, ethical, and medical-legal decision making issues that were raised in such a case that presented to an academic emergency department. We also review and evaluate a decision making process that emergency physicians confront when faced with such a challenging and unusual situation .