SHiPS || Death & Dying
Ethics of Death and Dying
If biology is about understanding what it means be living, then an exploration of death and dying is relevant by providing the appropriate contrasts. As soon as one discusses definitions of death, however, and the medical criteria used for determining death in humans, one inevitably encounters borderline cases and the ethical questions about sustaining life in such cases. High school students are generally more than ready to address these issues, often with some sophistication.
Charlotte St. Romain has offered the following fragmentary outline about the psychology of death and dying:
- Death and dying
- Using psychology
- Closed awareness -- Staff and family are aware of patient's condition, but the patient is not.
- Suspected awareness -- Patient is trying to learn from staff or family.
- Open awareness -- Patient is informed of condition.
- Defining death
- EEG/Brain waves?
- Speech, other forms of communication?
- Aided vs. unaided breathing?
- Evidence of "mind"?
- People's views of death (esp. in a contemporary Judeo-Christian framework)
- Euthanasia and the right to die
The issue at large is the right of the individual to autonomy versus the right of society to prevent the loss of human life. ... I would like feedback on the topics of enduring power of attorney, substituted judgment, surrogate decision-makers, and standards for whether a person is `reasonable'. I could also use some suggestions for the questionnaire that I plan to develop to aid students in deciding how they want this decision made for themselves (should the need arise) and what decisions they want made.
Charlotte St. Romain
- Complete 2-week unit, including a role-play case study for the whole class on the Nancy Cruzan "right- to-die" case. Contact: Charlotte St. Romain, Marksville High School,316 W. Bon Temp, Marksville LA 71351.
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