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EMC Co-Founder Commits Suicide 538

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the going-out-on-my-terms dept.
The Register is reporting that EMC co-founder Richard Egan has committed suicide. The article has an interesting look back at some of his accomplishments. "Egan had an amazing life, encompassing involvement in the Apollo space program, the US Marines, starting and building the most successful storage company on the planet, and becoming the US ambassador to Ireland. Finally, aged 73 and facing a lingering death, he ended the battle decisively and on his terms. He was never a shrinking violet."
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EMC Co-Founder Committs Suicide

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  • by coaxial (28297) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:38PM (#29269689) Homepage

    "Suicide" makes it sound like he was depressed. Sounds like this guy wasn't. He decided to go out on his own terms. He chose euthanasia. If only we all had such bravery when facing such a long debilitating decline.

    • by CannonballHead (842625) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:41PM (#29269711)
      define "bravery"
      • by X0563511 (793323) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:48PM (#29269755) Homepage Journal

        Most people fear death - a lot.

        He, instead of scrabbling away and clinging to anything he could (and just making it longer) like many of us would, stood tall, squared his shoulders, and walked into it's maw.

        That, is bravery.

        Death, is the one final unknown. Our species seems to be wired into fearing the unknown. Death, being one of the absolute unknowns, is also one of the absolute fears. The man was not afraid of this absolute.

        That, is bravery.

        • by DigiShaman (671371) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:57PM (#29269835) Homepage

          It could have also been desperation.

          I don't fault the guy. I mean, if terminal lung cancer is as bad as it sounds, I might have pulled the trigger on my own terms too. Who in the hell want's to die an agonizing death when a bullet to the head seems like the cure in comparison?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by paazin (719486)

            It could have also been desperation.

            I don't fault the guy. I mean, if terminal lung cancer is as bad as it sounds, I might have pulled the trigger on my own terms too. Who in the hell want's to die an agonizing death when a bullet to the head seems like the cure in comparison?

            Assuming the terminal cancer was the reason for his suicide, which is a supposition to begin with. The fact that he was caught up in a tax haven and the IRS was on his back ... well, one could imagine it can be a little more nuan

          • A quote on Slate today said that elderly suicides had declined (roughly) 30% since social security was instituted.

            When I looked over the star trek memory wall (http://www.trekkieguy.com/memory01.shtml), I noted that the deaths were

            a) a collection of cancers of actors in their 50's
            b) a huge amount of heart attacks of actors in their 60's.
            c) a sprinkling of suicides of actors in their 70's.
            d) and finally a few (really small number) of actors dying of old age in their 90's.

            If I had incurable cancer and knew it

          • by WaywardGeek (1480513) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @12:30AM (#29270077) Journal

            Actually, I wouldn't choose a bullet. I think jumping off Half Dome sounds a lot more fun. Or seeing exactly just how fast I can take those turns in a motorcycle on Skyline, and then push just a bit more. Go sky diving and simply don't pull the cord. How about taking an overdose of some very fun drug while enjoying the company of a well-paid lady friend? Free-climb some way-too-hard slope without a rope? Rent a Corvette, and crash it at 170Mph. See just how far you can swim into the ocean, or just how far you can free-dive, and then push a bit further. I think I'd prefer any of those to a slow painful death stretched over months or years. You only get to die once. Might as well die doing something you'd normally be to scared to try.

            • by Valdrax (32670) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @01:07AM (#29270295)

              Actually, I wouldn't choose a bullet. I think jumping off Half Dome sounds a lot more fun. Or seeing exactly just how fast I can take those turns in a motorcycle on Skyline, and then push just a bit more. Go sky diving and simply don't pull the cord. How about taking an overdose of some very fun drug while enjoying the company of a well-paid lady friend? Free-climb some way-too-hard slope without a rope? Rent a Corvette, and crash it at 170Mph. See just how far you can swim into the ocean, or just how far you can free-dive, and then push a bit further. I think I'd prefer any of those to a slow painful death stretched over months or years. You only get to die once. Might as well die doing something you'd normally be to scared to try.

              Personally, I'd rather not be the kind of jerk that leaves a huge mess for someone else to clean up when it's time to fold up my affairs, but YMMV.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by JWSmythe (446288)

                To each his own, right?

                I agree, the blood splatter mess isn't exactly the legacy I'd want to leave behind. I've spent my life making sure I'm well preserved, between bad food with lots of preservatives, and generally pickling myself with alcohol. Archeologists in 1000 years will dig up my body, and I'll look as fresh as when they planted me, even without embalming. I'll leave a lovely, yet well worn corpse. :) My friends will say "yes, he lived his life to the fullest, and

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Dhalka226 (559740)

              The problem is that these all have varying degrees of potential failure. Jumping off Half Dome or skydiving and not pulling the chute? Pretty good chance you'll die, and quickly--but if you don't, there's also a high risk you live in agony for hours, probably destroyed so bodily that you couldn't even do anything to finish the job. And god help you if somebody saw it happen and called an ambulance that ended up saving your life. There was a story just a few days ago about an Australian quadraplegic gett

            • by Builder (103701) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @03:06AM (#29270951)

              As an active skydiver, I'm asking you nicely to pick another one of those choices. It's no fun for anyone standing around the DZ on a nice sunny day when selfish fuck decides to use our sport as his means to kill himself. It's no fun having to watch the paramedics try to save their life when you can see in their eyes they're dead. It's no fun to see the faces of the children who just came to see mummy get strapped to some man and go tandem when they realise that shit on their shoes used to be a living person.

              So do us all a favour, and fuck off.

              I'll leave the other ideas to the active climbers, motorcyclists and others who you'd like to make shit for.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Talisman (39902)
              "See...just how far you can free-dive, and then push a bit further."

              I freedive quite regularly, and have experienced two shallow water blackouts. I can tell you, assuming you have done proper breathe-ups to rid your system of CO2 before the dive, it would be an extremely peaceful way to go. Both times I blacked out, I wasn't even aware of what happened until it was showed to me on film. One second I'm ascending, the next, out cold. No pain, no discomfort, no fear.

              If I ever off myself, that is pro
              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by WaywardGeek (1480513)

                Actually, this is my favourite of my various half-assed suggestions. At one particularly hard point in my past (after a divorce) I was doing many foolish things, not particularly caring if I died. Now, 50 feet of depth isn't much for an experienced free-diver, but I'm only comfortable down to about 20'. The one time I dived down to 50', I looked up and thought "Well, this is it." But, it wasn't. However, if it had been, I was prepared for it - not upset or scared... actually more like thrilled. I was

        • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @12:18AM (#29270007) Journal

          That, or he fears pain more than death. Most people fear pain, a lot.

          He, instead of fighting the pain and clinging as long as he could (and affording himself the possibility of a medical breakthrough or a medical miracle), like many of us would, simply gave up and took his ball home.

          From a certain perspective, that is cowardice.

          Death is a complete unknown. Rather than face the pain he knows, clinging to another few years, days, hours with loved ones, he instead walked headfirst into what could very well be worse pain and debilitation (think any religion's hell), yet clearly in a desire to avoid the pain and debilitation that he knew.

          From a certain perspective, that is stupidity.

          I don't think we can really judge one way or the other, though. At a certain point, it's a choice between being a burden to your family as you slowly drift into a coma and then death, or cutting off all medical treatment (and thus bills).

          • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @12:27AM (#29270051) Homepage Journal

            My father in law is currently dying from terminal cancer and I reckon anybody who has seen it happen would look for a fast way out. What I am seeing now is almost indescribably horrible. I don't blame this guy one bit.

            • My sympathies. I watched my father die from melanoma. Actually, he died from starvation. After months of intractable pain, he quit eating and starved himself to end his pain.

            • by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @12:50AM (#29270189) Journal

              My grandfather died (ostensibly) from Parkinson's. My other grandfather died (also, ostensibly) from a stroke. I say "ostensibly" because neither of these things were capable of killing the men by themselves.

              In the first case, the man's wits were always totally about him, but his communication and motor skills dropped to such a useless extent that he plainly felt he was a burden. He was very intelligent, and a quiet thinker: Someone you listened to when they talked, no matter how lengthy or succinct the conversation. My family kept him alive for years too long -- he was only going to get worse, not better.

              In the latter case, the man's wits weren't always about him, but he was plainly aware that he was on his last legs and wouldn't be long in this world. He was an intelligent, outgoing, and very lucky reactionist who thrived on stress: Someone you listened to very intently, even if you thought they were wrong, because their thoughts were still very useful to absorb. My family kept him alive for years too long, as well -- he had more than one stroke in the nursing home, and had a long history of cardiac problems before then.

              Both were accomplished (in terms of family reverence and fiscal good fortune). They lived good, honest lives, had their shit together, and were completely loved by those around them.

              But, they lived too long. They were all used up.

              Death is as natural as life itself is. It is an eventuality. One can either go out on one's own terms, or one can sap the Estate for all that its worth as the State sucks it all in to maintain "healthfulness" at everyone's (including the patient) detriment.

              I hope your Grandpa-in-law does well with whatever comes.

              (And for a disclaimer: No, death and suicide aren't always fair, and aren't always the fair means to an end. My own sister, whom I was also very close to, killed herself while she was still young and in rather good physical health about three years ago. Something about a hose, some duct tape, a 1996 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, a secluded garage, a bunch of cocaine, a lot of unhelpful friends, and an undiagnosed case of schizophrenia combined to make this happen. I wish I could've done more for her, and will probably regret that I hadn't for the rest of my own life.)

              • by Falconhell (1289630) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @02:11AM (#29270685) Journal

                "Death is as natural as life itself is. It is an eventuality. One can either go out on one's own terms, or one can sap the Estate for all that its worth as the State sucks it all in to maintain "healthfulness" at everyone's (including the patient) detriment."

                Great post, you summed that up well.

                Whatever you do don't blame yourself for someone else's suicide.

                I have been haunted by the suicide of my closest friend for 25 years. Same method too. It is always easy to see the signs after the fact, but virtually impossible in some cases beforehand.

                Another of my closest friends died of breast cancer (Metastisised) at 32 a few years ago. When she knew the end was near she went out and partied real hard, and died 2 days later. At least she went out how she lived with great spirit-and the best illegal drugs!

                  If she had stayed in Hospital she could have probably lived for another month at most, and we her friends would have had to watch her die slowly and painfully. Her bravery in not allowing her friends to suffer with her for a month was incredibly moving.

          • by Idiomatick (976696) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @03:40AM (#29271099)
            Death isn't an unknown it just isn't that exciting.
          • by GradiusCVK (1017360) <originalcvk AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @04:34AM (#29271339)

            Rather than face the pain he knows, clinging to another few years, days, hours with loved ones, he instead walked headfirst into what could very well be worse pain and debilitation (think any religion's hell), yet clearly in a desire to avoid the pain and debilitation that he knew.

            That's clear to you? I'm amazed at your total knowledge of the subject. Let me add a few additional considerations (of which you are obviously aware) for the rest of the readers without your gift.

            My aunt died of breast cancer about ten years ago - I was in middle school at the time, and understandably ignorant of most aspects of the real world. She had been diagnosed maybe 7 or 8 years before that. The woman was incredible - driven, successful, brilliant, beautiful, and one of the most caring and compassionate people I've ever known.

            Her family was wealthy, and with her own success and that of my uncle (got out of a high level position in AT&T at exactly the right time), she had the means to fight the disease better than most... and fight she did. She consulted with doctors all over the world, tried the most advanced treatments available, stuck strictly to regimens that many people give up on because of the pain, and never complained, cried, or once gave us reason to pity her beyond our knowledge of her disease (at least, not that I, my parents, or my grandparents ever witnessed... my uncle no doubt has a much different perspective on this).

            She was incredibly strong - until the bitter end, she struggled to hide the horrors of the disease from everyone. Until the very end of her struggle, I was mostly unaware of any ill effects - she wore stylish hats to hide her hair loss, covered her pale complexion with make up, wore heavier clothes add bulk to her wasting body... everything possible just to make us happy and comfortable around her, despite the dizziness, nausea, pain, fear, despair, and everything else she was hiding behind her smile. She had a young daughter that she didn't want to traumatize, and friends and family who loved her dearly. She felt she had to present an optimistic, healthy, happy appearance to us so we wouldn't mourn her while she still fought her battle.

            Why did she fight? I have no idea. Maybe she was afraid of death (somehow I doubt this was high on my aunt's list of priorities). Maybe she genuinely thought she might live to help raise her daughter (she was about 13 when she died - my aunt succeeded in seeing her grow to be a smart, beautiful young woman). Maybe there were financial (i.e. insurance, inheritance, whatever) reasons. Maybe she felt suicide would be too traumatic for us to deal with. Maybe she was afraid of whatever afterlife may await those who commit suicide (she was a good Catholic). Maybe she didn't want to let random luck and an evil disease decide her fate for her without at least fighting with all she had. Maybe it was all of these, or something else, or nothing at all. The point is, she chose to fight, and we supported her in that decision... to the degree she allowed anyone to support her, of course.

            I still look up to her to this day... her dignity and strength in dealing with the disease, and the beauty of the life she led. I think she made her decision mostly out of love for her family, and I will never criticize her decision to cling to life, not just because I don't know all the factors that went into the decision process, but because I'm not qualified to judge those factors or the weights she assigned to them. I will add a few observations, however.

            Having seen her deterioration in the last year of her life, and the impact it had on my family, I can say that her slow, agonizing death certainly WAS a traumatic experience for us, despite her heroic efforts to hide it. My uncle was a broken man (he's not nearly so strong as my aunt was) for the last few years, and the pain has never subsided (though he's gotten better at hiding it). The effect on the family might have been different had she chosen a different path, but

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by catmistake (814204)
          yeah, if he had realized that control was an illusion, if he had decided instead that it was not up to him to decide when it would end, just as it was not his decision to begin, to face debilitation and pain... he would have undone all he had done and we'd see him as a coward.

          btw you are an idiot. suicide is for cowards (unless in protest). there is no honor in ending your life. Either you have the fortitude to see it through to the very end, or you don't. He didn't. Suicide doesn't diminish what he did
        • He was afraid of depending on others. Afraid of losing control of living life the way he wanted to. Afraid of pain, Afraid of suffering. He took his life out of fear. He is no hero, he is a coward.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rastos1 (601318)

          Most people fear death - a lot.

          In fact, they fear long and helpless suffering that precedes it.

        • by lysergic.acid (845423) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @02:04AM (#29270639) Homepage

          So every terminal cancer patient who doesn't commit suicide isn't brave? By trying to survive they're "scrabbling away and clinging to anything they could?" Sounds like you're saying all the terminally ill who don't commit suicide are pathetic cowards. What about the ones who endure all the pain (physical and psychological) and some how beat the odds (it's happened many a times)?

          People who commit suicide all have their own reasons. I think the important thing is to not judge them, regardless of what their circumstances happen to be, as we'll never know what they were going through and the reasoning behind their decision. It's their life. They should have the right to end it if they want. It's really no one else's business.

          But let's not try so hard to glorify someone' death that we start denigrating those with the will to live on. This guy obviously lead a very full life filled with many great & admirable accomplishments. Let's just leave it at that. His suicide was just the final period at the end of a fascinating life story. Our attention should be on everything that came before it.

        • by mjwx (966435) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @03:28AM (#29271039)

          Most people fear death - a lot.

          He, instead of scrabbling away and clinging to anything he could (and just making it longer) like many of us would, stood tall, squared his shoulders, and walked into it's maw.

          This really is a western attitude. Take a look at Japan, where suicide is considered an honourable death, even preferred over being a living failure. Buddhist cultures like Thailand or Cambodia, the reincarnation religions combined with life being cheap, easy for them to justify what we westerns consider absolutely stupid behaviour (Driving is the first thing that comes to mind) with "it OK, I come back, next life". Of course they don't want to die, but there isn't the absolute fear of it that we have in the western world.

          The church is the biggest reason we have laws against suicide. Taking your own life is the only real power we have, to live or to die and the bible says that only God has the right to decide who lives and who dies thus suicide is a sin. We are trained to despise death from day one, we've built legal systems around this making it "wrong" to take your own life and even worse to spare someone pain by assisting suicide (Euthanasia). So by this logic, suicide is not considered bravery, on the contrary it is selfishness and I suppose that it is to an extent but it is the one bit of selfishness we should be entitled to.

          I applaud this person for choosing when he was to die. I too would rather end it quickly then become an inconvenience on others with a terminal illness, plus I'd get to organise a really big party before I go (a bit morbid yes, but so is a funeral). Also look up Einstein's death [wikipedia.org] he too also chose to go with a bit of grace by refusing life exending surgery. quoting Einstein,

          "I want to go when I want. It is tasteless to prolong life artificially. I have done my share, it is time to go. I will do it elegantly."

    • by Goldberg's Pants (139800) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:43PM (#29269719) Journal

      While I think Bill Maher is a misogynist dickhead, he does have one great quote on suicide.

      It's our way of telling God "You can't fire me. I quit!"

      The sad thing is this guy should NOT have had to go in a closet and blow his head off. Never ceases to amaze me how we euthanize animals on compassionate grounds, and yet we humans, we're expected to suffer.

      • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:59PM (#29269861)

        we're 'expected to suffer' because relgion *still* dominates our legal system.

        remove religion and there's zero issue with people killing themselves.

        it really is that simple.

        and yet its not. because people won't let go of explanations that let them sleep easy at night.

        even ones we know are not really true.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by plopez (54068)

          remove religion and there's zero issue with people killing themselves.
          No, not really. It's usually the family and friends that suffer the most. I knew a guy with a 3 year old daughter that shot himself. That was some time ago, she's an adult now. I'm sure she still carried the scars with her.

        • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @12:27AM (#29270049) Journal
          "May this not be that the voluntary surrender of life is an ill compliment to him who said that all things were very good?"

          From Schopenhauer's "On Suicide":(Hollingdale's translation)

          "Christianity carries in its innermost heart the truth that suffering(the Cross) is the true aim of life: that is why it repudiates suicide, which is opposed to this aim, while antiquity from a lower viewpoint approved of and indeed honoured it. This argument against suicide is however an ascetic one, and is therefore valid only from a far higher ethical standpoint than any which European moral philosophers have ever assumed. If we descend from this very high standpoint there no longer remains any tenable moral reason for damning suicide. It therefore seems that the extraordinary zeal in opposing it displayed by the clergy of monotheistic religions - a zeal which is not supported by the Bible or by any cogent reasons - must have some hidden reason behind it: may this not be that the voluntary surrender of life is an ill compliment to him who said that all things were very good? If so, it is another instance of the obligatory optimism of these religions, which denounces self-destruction so as not to be denounced by it."
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Religion?

          Or a medical industry the brings in the lion's share of its profits from the last years of people's lives.

          Short of being paralyzed you can kill yourself anyway. The's the cool part about killing yourself--even if it's illegal it's not like they can prosecute you for it.

      • by Brian Gordon (987471) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @12:14AM (#29269991)

        Never ceases to amaze me

        Doesn't surprise me. Until very recently, only the wealthy could afford the food/rest/care to even survive any serious illness. The problem of what to do with old people when the medical care is too good is a recent problem and our society hasn't cast its collective conscience's vote yet on what attitude to adopt toward human euthanasia. Eventually we'll reach a mature, stable decision one way or the other.. but you can't rush it.

        Also there are a lot of thorny ethical issues. For like 25 centuries doctors have been swearing the Hippocratic oath, which explicitly states "do no harm." Doctors can't even prescribe lethal injections when a court orders execution; prisons have to get those drugs 'semi-legally' without going through a real doctor. Also there's the problem of whether the elderly will feel pressured to go to euthanasia (as seen in Soylent Green and Deus Ex) to spare the financial burden on their kids or society. And there's the catch-22 issue of sound mind: euthanasia candidates must be making a rational decision, but anyone petitioning for euthanasia is acting irrationally...

        Obviously there should be a better way than taking a gun into a closet, but immediately jumping into legalizing euthanasia would be inappropriate and dangerous.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Microlith (54737)

          our society hasn't cast its collective conscience's vote yet on what attitude to adopt toward human euthanasia.

          Well, if you went by the philosophies under which the US was founded then it's no one's business but the person seeking death. The problem are the religious busybodies who feel the need to butt in and interfere with people's decisions for the sake of their personal moral gratification.

          For like 25 centuries doctors have been swearing the Hippocratic oath, which explicitly states "do no harm."

          Is not

          • by rjh (40933) <rjh@sixdemonbag.org> on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @12:50AM (#29270187)

            With respect to whether forcing someone to live in pain and without dignity is a violation of the Hippocratic Oath -- yes, it is. This is why so many doctors nowadays are taking continuing education classes in chronic pain management and death with dignity.

            Under current ethical guidelines, a doctor is allowed to prescribe any amount of narcotic necessary to manage the pain of a terminal patient, even if that dose of narcotic will hasten the patient's death. (The law has not caught up with medical ethics, but it's in the process of doing so.)

            If the only way to manage the pain of your terminal illness is to give you a dose that will hasten your death, the AMA says that if you ask for it I am allowed to ethically give it to you. The AMA also says that I should tell you that very powerful drugs are available to manage your pain, and to encourage you not to live in pain. I can't force you to take the Fentanyl patch, but I can make sure you know you have that option available to you and that no one will think less of you for it.

            Pain management, dignity, hospice care, etc. -- these are all ways medicine in the US is trying to balance the Hippocratic Oath against the indignities of terminal care.

        • by shermo (1284310)

          As someone who's watched a loved one go through leukemia, I think it's pretty obvious that oath is selectively enforced.

        • by Quothz (683368) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @12:55AM (#29270205) Journal

          For like 25 centuries doctors have been swearing the Hippocratic oath, which explicitly states "do no harm."

          First off, the Hippocratic Oath does not say "do no harm". It does say that doctors should not do assisted suicides, perform abortions, or perform surgery. Luckily, doctors don't take it any more and haven't in my lifetime. I'm not sure why people think they do. Some take substitute oaths, like the Declaration of Geneva;* others take no oath.

          immediately jumping into legalizing euthanasia would be inappropriate and dangerous

          "Immediately"? That's a topic that's been up for debate throughout all of recorded history. Which is why the Hippocratic Oath mentions it. Generally, it's been shot down by religious leaders in western cultures because suicide is a sin. It'd be awful nice if we could get past the argument that an invisible fairy will get mad at you and address it as two questions: Does a person own his or her own life, and if so, under what criteria is suicide appropriate? For example, I could see not allowing someone suicide due to schizophrenia because it interferes with rational decision-making. I could also see it a no-no for the parent of a minor child, under the assumption that his or her duty to the child supercedes any rights to opt outta life. But just screaming that it's wrong isn't gonna last in today's secular political climate.

          * Which also does not say "do no harm", but does say "I will maintain the utmost respect for human life". On the flip side, the doctor also promises to never violate human rights - some would argue that the right to die at a place and time of one's own choosing is a human right.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Brian Gordon (987471)

            The hippocratic oath includes "to abstain from doing harm"

            I didn't know that they didn't take it anymore, thanks

        • by YeeHaW_Jelte (451855) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @04:20AM (#29271289) Homepage

          Speaking from a country that has had legal euthanasia for quite some years already:

          "For like 25 centuries doctors have been swearing the Hippocratic oath, which explicitly states "do no harm.""

          Inappropriately lengthening peoples lives and pain in the case of a severe illness can be construed to be doing harm. Doctors are used to keeping people alive and using this as a metric for their effectiveness. Maybe there should be a bigger focus on quality of life and less on plainly being alive.
          Also, keeping someone alive because of your own personal (religious) beliefs is morally objectionable if the patient does not share these beliefs.
          I'll leave to the readers imagination what I think of the moral implications of the problems in applying the death penalty as you describe it.

          "Also there's the problem of whether the elderly will feel pressured to go to euthanasia (as seen in Soylent Green and Deus Ex) to spare the financial burden on their kids or society."

          First, get a decent healthcare system to spread the costs. It seems every discussion on slashdot heads in the direction of the US healthcare system lately, maybe there's change in the air.
          Secondly, financial considerations are also weighed by medical staff in the decision to use a certain treatment to keep someone alive or not. This is one of the most serious dilemma's we'll face in the decades coming: how much is a life worth or how much is another year of living worth. This stems directly from the invention of new and costly medical treatments and this issue will be important, regardless of legalizing euthanasia or not.

          "And there's the catch-22 issue of sound mind: euthanasia candidates must be making a rational decision, but anyone petitioning for euthanasia is acting irrationally..."

          I see no paradox here except in your mind: why is petitioning for euthanasia irrational?

          "Obviously there should be a better way than taking a gun into a closet, but immediately jumping into legalizing euthanasia would be inappropriate and dangerous."

          I don't think anyone is suggesting this. Do you? I think most people in favor of legalizing euthanasia have a very sound idea of what checks and balances should be in place to prevent misuse. I know there are many safeguards in place in the dutch system for legal euthanasia and I think the practice is widely supported and considered far superior to blasting ones brains out in desperation.

    • by RuBLed (995686)
      The only thing I'm opposed to was his method of "euthanasia".. Come on, firing a shotgun in the head, there are other methods that would work as well without inciting that much shock to whoever finds you lying on the floor.
      • by plopez (54068)

        exactly, firearms are often used on impulse. Which is why they are dangerous to keep lying around the house.

        He could have checked into a hospice, etc.

    • by MBGMorden (803437)

      "Suicide" is a word - whether you connect it to depression or not is your own twisting of the term. If you kill yourself it is suicide, plain and simple. That can be good, bad, accepted, or non-accepted, but the term itself doesn't care. I could equally say that "euthanasia" sounds like he was gassed to death, when in reality he shot himself.

    • by JWSmythe (446288)

      You know, when I go, I want it on my own terms too. Shotgun to the head? That wouldn't exactly be my choice. I'm thinking of a nice IV morphine cocktail, heavy on the morphine. Quick, painless, and you're gone. Not that I'm thinking of an out, but sometimes you consider what the options are. I could live painfully in hospice care for weeks or months, or go to sleep and never wake up. If/when the day comes, I hope a doctor will be kind enough to to leave it by my bedside and walk away f

  • The EASY way out! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ZackSchil (560462) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:40PM (#29269703)

    What a coward! He should have faced his imminent slow and painful death like a man: by watching his dignity slowly fade away as he soils his bed and sobs uncontrollably about a life ill spent.

    Wait, his life wasn't ill spent, so he realized that everything I just typed is bullshit. Society's attitude towards suicide is fucked up.

    Rest in peace.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by paazin (719486)
      Yeah this guy was a truly noble American:

      He was involved in a tax shelter case in 2006. The Irish Times reported he had invested $62m in a scheme set up by KPMG partners.

      What's with our obsession to praise and reward those who ultimately just take advantage of us?

      • by rjh (40933) <rjh@sixdemonbag.org> on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @12:04AM (#29269915)

        "It is every American's Constitutional right to avoid paying taxes to the maximum extent permissible by law." -- Judge David R. Hansen, Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals

        There's nothing wrong or immoral with reducing your tax bill. It's only wrong to do it in violation of the law. The IRS claims he engaged in a legal fiction to dodge taxes illegally. He claims he engaged in a legal fiction to dodge taxes legally. We decide who's right or wrong in the courts: we don't leap to judgment on Slashdot. (I know, I know, I must be new here. Check the UID, kids, I'm not.)

        If the IRS is right, then yes, his actions were unjust. If he's right, then more power to him.

        If you believe it's virtuous to pay more taxes than you absolutely have to, I'm sure the IRS wouldn't mind if you threw an extra couple of hundred on your check come April 15. Otherwise, let's give the dead the benefit of the doubt, and not declare him to have been taking advantage of us.

        • The interesting questions start to come up when the fact that the law is written and re-written enters the picture. If law were handed down, without further alteration, this would be unproblematic; but it isn't.

          Given a modest space of time, and sufficient resources, it is possible(indeed common) to change what "the maximum extent allowed by law" is, either across the board or selectively. What then?
    • by e2d2 (115622)

      That attitude stems from the people left behind. Maybe he prepared them, but they still live on and most people don't take a suicide of a loved one well. Maybe one day I'll face the same decision, but I doubt I'd kill myself because it would destroy my loved ones. I know what it's like to see a loved one perish in the hospital and I also currently have to assist in the care of my grandfather who's brain checked out long ago. It's not "dignified" but it is natural. Not all of life is pretty. Some of it is do

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        No. Not to be cruel, but it's _not_ natural. If this were in some earlier time frame, or a less "technologically advanced" environment, your relative would've been consumed by some other predator by now. It's _un_natural to develop the technology to prolong a life beyond its natural usefulness; ie. into a vegetative state. We are completely skull-fucking the "natural circle of life."

        If this post comes across as unnecessarily cruel, forgive me: I'm drunk on Bacardi 151, right now, and probably shouldn't

    • by X0563511 (793323) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:53PM (#29269811) Homepage Journal

      There's two (well, more than that, really) sides to the suicide coin.

      1. You have men like this. Men who have seen that which they have wrought, and found a life well spent. Rather than wither away and die as you say, these people deserve an 'easy out.'

      2. Then, you have the "oh woe is me" crowd, where suicide is the cowards way out - because it's easier to kill themself than deal with their problems - consequences to everyone else be damned. A selfish, cowardice-ridden exit.

      3. Also, you have those who genuinly have something wrong with their mind that pushes them to it. You can't blame someone for something external pushing it down on you like that.

      4. Finally, unless there are more I'm too tired to think of, you have those that go for a good cause. The good soldier diving on a grenade. Sacrificing one's self for the good of many, etc - the true altruistic finale.

      I think the problem is that most people hear 'suicide' and think of group #2 above, to the exclusion of all else. If only the world was that defined into black in white.

      • Do you think that #2 actually represents more than a trivial percentage of the suicide population(rather than being composed largely of a public misperception of the noisier members of #3?)

        Given the strength of both instinctive and cultural revulsions toward death, and the overwhelmingly numerous examples of people willing to endure pretty miserable conditions and near-nil hope of improvement; I'd say that it takes a very special kind of coward to prefer death, self inflicted, to dealing with other probl
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MBGMorden (803437)

        It depends. Truthfully I think there is no real distinction between #1 and #2 in your post. Reality is we all die eventually, so everyone who commits suicide is speeding up the inevitable, but in both #1 and #2 both people have problems. Death will get both eventually so saying "I'm going to die anyways" doesn't do much. Why do some people's problems (cancer) become a good enough reason to kill one's self whereas other people's problems (a lost job for example) not get the same consideration, and they g

  • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:46PM (#29269737)
    I'm getting a HUGE LOL from the

    Solaris budget concerns?
    You have options!

    Advert on the El Reg page announcing "EMC co-founder kills himself".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:51PM (#29269795)

    May his memory live on forever in our... network attached storage devices.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    A rich fucker like him could've easily gone to one of those clinics in Europe and ended it in a more dignified manner. Imagine the poor bastard who ended up discovering his corpse... What an asshole.
    • by MarkRose (820682)

      There comes a time -- in every man's life -- when he must take splatters into his own hands.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by GradiusCVK (1017360)
      Don't know any details beyond what's presented in a few news articles and wikipedia, but he strikes me as a hardass Irish ex-Marine who didn't like to tiptoe around an issue. Not quite the "down a bottle of sleeping pills and a pint of alcohol then die in his sleep" type of guy. When he decided it was time to take care of business, he sure as hell didn't want to die like a pussy. Which is more dignified to you? Does it matter? Go ahead and kill yourself however you want.
  • He got on the bus (Score:4, Interesting)

    by plopez (54068) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @12:04AM (#29269909) Journal

    He used the Hunter S. Thompson method, large caliber to the head approach.

    In the same situation I would have gone to a nice comfortable hospice facility in a nice liberal country where they would have kept me comfortable until it was all over. With an army of lawyers to keep family and business associates at bay. He did have the money for it after all.

    In case anyone is considering it, firearms are *not* 100% guaranteed. High probability, yes. Guaranteed, no. You can maim yourself, cause blindness, brain damage, have to eat through straws etc. Due to the circumstances we may not know exactly how long it took him to die.

    Another bit of advice, make sure you get your living will and medical power of attorney put together. I've been in a situation where we just *barely* got the medical power of attorney signed in time. Without it it would have been an even worse nightmare than it was.

    • by MBGMorden (803437)

      Firearms to the head in general are not 100% guaranteed (I know a guy who was shot 3 times in the head and survived, albeit with severe brain damage - but it was a .22LR). Sufficiently large shotgun to the head? Pretty much guaranteed (as long as you're not a dolt and stick it under your chin rather than actually at the side of your head). Question is how presentable you want to be at your funeral, for people who care about it. A 12ga isn't going to make you look too pretty. That may sound petty, but i

      • "...and a primary motivation is often not wanting to mess themselves up for their funeral."

        My method of choice is head first into a chipper-shredder. Possibly aim the output over the bay for the fish and crabs to enjoy.

        • Re:He got on the bus (Score:5, Informative)

          by smellsofbikes (890263) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @01:12AM (#29270337) Journal
          May I suggest an overdose of heroin?

          It doesn't hurt. In fact, it'll probably be the best feeling of your whole life.

          If it doesn't work, you're not screwed up, missing body parts, having to explain scars, or a drooling idiot. You're completely fine, and have a chance to try again.

          And, most importantly, if it does work, your friends and relatives don't spend years asking themselves "could we have stopped it? Was it something we did?" and will instead say "geez, I sure miss that person, never would've thought s/he was a junkie." Which is a far, far nicer thing to do to all the people you care about than a messy suicide.

  • by xquercus (801916) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @01:09AM (#29270315)
    Terminally ill residents of Oregon and Washington have the option of ending their own life within the existing medical framework. There are strict requirements and a number of checks and balances, but my understanding is that patients who request this option (and receive the appropriate approvals) are usually prescribed a lethal dose of a barbiturate. The high dose causes sleep and ultimately death. IMHO, this is significantly more dignified than a gunshot.
    • by bebemochi (772144) <fraise@fra i s e .net> on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @10:21AM (#29273429) Homepage
      He had lung cancer AND prostate cancer. Late-stage lung cancer is horrible. My grandfather made use of the Death with Dignity Act [wikipedia.org] in Oregon to request assisted suicide; we all supported his choice. It's hard not to when you see an intelligent, once-active man become delirious from pain, and bedridden due to having to be hooked up to machines that keep him from drowning to death (fluids in the lungs).

      I'm one of the Oregon voters who voted twice for Death with Dignity, and am very glad that my grandfather was able to die at his own choosing, in a humane manner. (I don't think having to grab a shotgun and shoot yourself in the head, plus knowing others will find you and have to witness the scene, is humane - I say it not against Egan, but because I wish Egan had had a better choice.)

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