Man Drank Cyanide to Avoid the 'American Way of Dying'

A 69-year-old Fairfield man, who killed himself by ingesting cyanide, leaves behind an open letter explaining his decision.

A HazMat team responds to Clinton Street in Fairfield, Conn., where a man reportedly took his own life by ingesting cyanide. Credit: Fairfield Fire Department
A HazMat team responds to Clinton Street in Fairfield, Conn., where a man reportedly took his own life by ingesting cyanide. Credit: Fairfield Fire Department
Allan Banks watched his dad die in 2005. Then his wife in 2007. And his mom in 2008.

But it was while watching his grandmother die when he was younger that the Fairfield resident decided he would not go out that way. And with the 69-year-old showing signs of his age, and feeling like he had already lived through the greatest times of his life, he took his own life — on his own terms.

Banks drank poisonous potassium cyanide inside the bedroom of his house on Clinton Street. The discovery on April 14 of his body and the poisonous material triggered an intense emergency response that included a HazMat team and led to the temporary closure of the road in the coastal Connecticut town. 
It turns out Banks had been planning his suicide for weeks. He reportedly left signs in the home that alerted emergency responders — who had responded to the house to conduct a welfare check — to the presence of the poisonous material. He had set up a conservator of his estate.

And he penned a four-page handwritten letter explaining his action. He also attached a small piece of paper to it with a paperclip, noting his time of death: shortly after 9:45 p.m. on Friday, April 11, 2014.

The letter was found near his body. The Fairfield Police Department shared it with Patch and other local media outlets — Banks had requested that it be shown to anyone who may want to read it.

"This is a suicide, pure and simple," he began.

Banks wrote of his happiness with his family and went on to state that he felt he had been living in a "paradise" for many years.

"I am contented, and grateful for the life that I have had," he wrote.

Banks also referenced the "gambler's fallacy" — that bad luck can change — and wrote that the medical version of it is that you can get better at the end of life. "You don't," he wrote.

"I am one fall or failed capillary away from the American way of death: ambulance, hospital, nursing home, progressive decline, drooling, vegging, dying," he went on. "I'm declining."

"My judgment is that the American Way of Death is neither the way to live nor the way to die." 

Tmc April 22, 2014 at 08:12 PM
@bill; the solution to not losing your belongings is to invest in a long-term care policy. I started paying into it back in 1998 and my dad is currently using his now. As long as you meet one of 5 criteria that is needed, they pay for everything except cable until your policy is exhausted. that can give your family time to sell off your assets so you have that money to live on until you die. also, it's a good idea to consult with a geriatric lawyer and follow his advice.
Brian J Monahan April 23, 2014 at 11:43 AM
Living on Earth theses days is a form of Spiritual Suicide- He didnt kill himself, he set himself free from the Morons that are beset opon us during the Apocalyptic New Millenium. He could be a Trend setter yes, thats true, but is life what it used to be? No its not. Be ready its Jacobs Ladder Boys and Girls-Be quick or be Deado-just like the Movie said. Zombies to the left, Vampires to the right, stuck in the middle may be ok as long as we keep laughing at the absurdity of Modern existance. Big respect brother, a Brave warrior never dies!
carol renza April 25, 2014 at 09:41 AM
An aunt of mine spent over 7 years in a nursing home. She was very active and lived at home totally independent until age 85 when a debilitating stroke left her helpless. Prior to her last 3 years in a vegetative state of the 7 she spent in a nursing home, she would beg me to kill her. Her heart was strong keeping her alive, all other functions and faculties long gone. My husband was in a nursing home rehab last year. I witnessed aides pushing patients in wheelchairs wasted away patients in fetal position unable to communicate appearing comatose. Most had Alzheimer's. These poor souls whose personalities had long departed, being kept alive at $12,000/ month feeding the nursing home industry. Has nothing to do with a long term policy to prolong suffering when everything that defines us as a 'person' is gone. No one should judge this man, he said it well in his final letter.
Jack O'Brien May 01, 2014 at 06:34 PM
Thats' sad. :(
Craig Zac May 14, 2014 at 04:44 PM
what a way to go out.. on his own terms, with no BS... he is right, what good is living till 90 if your too sick and frail to do anything but sit there and live in your memories? we do it with pets, why not people? do you wanna see your parents living as crumpled, shriveled up motionless versions of their former selves, in pain and not being able to do anything that makes them happy, having nothing to look forward too each day, no reason to awaken each morning? Im not saying we should kill our elderly or sick, im saying if our elderly or sick want to leave, we should let them. its their lives, their choice, their wish.. who are we to say no... what? because of selfish reasons they have to be here just so we could visit them every few weeks to say hello? just to make ourselves feel better all the while dodging the daggers they are shooting at us because the hate the fact that WE wont let THEM go when, where, how they want.


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