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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries
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The cost of living 

12 JULY 2018 | ROY B COLBRAN 

Tony Ratcliff (bit.ly/2yd7FVV) challenges the profession to take up a position on assisted dying. At age 87 I am still tolerably fit and very much enjoying life. Even so, I am very conscious that it cannot be many years before something happens that will be the cause of my returning to the state of non-existence that applied before my conception. Although that is not attractive, it is not to be feared.

What I do fear is that my last years will see me, like two relatives before me, in a miserable state, totally dependent on those around me for my needs. I don’t see why I should be prevented from receiving help to terminate such a situation, either because of the arguments of those who think that the dangers of the system being abused are too great or from those who would deny me the right on religious grounds. Whether the fact that we are experts in the statistical treatment of death qualifies the profession to pronounce on the moral issues is another matter. At least it would be very interesting to find out whether there is any consensus among our members, such as the 80% silent majority mentioned by Tony.  

One thing that seems to be usually regarded as too indecent to mention is the question of cost. Can anyone estimate a figure for the annual cost of keeping going all those people who no longer wish to be alive? With the drastic shortage of money for the Health Service, could it not be better spent?


Roy B Colbran

12 June 2018