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YOLO vs. YODO: Is it time to talk about death?

Published: Monday, May 19 2014 3:55 p.m. MDT

YODO is the hot new thing when it comes to talking about death — that's if people are willing to talk about it at all.

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So, do you only live once or do you only die once?

That’s the question that seems to be popping up in the media in recent weeks, as a new trend, YODO — "You Only Die Once," a play on YOLO or "You Only Live Once" — has begun spreading across the United States and much of the United Kingdom.

Not only has the #YODO hashtag taken off on Twitter, but it’s been a centerpiece of “Dying Matters Awareness Week,” which occurred last week in the United Kingdom, The Huffington Post reported. Jaweed Kaleem wrote for HuffPost that “more than 100 sites around the United Kingdom” would be spreading that message.

It has little to do with religion. It's more about discussing death, Kaleem wrote.

"Most of the British public still doesn't want to talk about dying," said Joe Levenson of the Dying Matters Coalition to HuffPost. "We want to raise awareness and help people come to terms with dying and bereavement."

In fact, a recent study by ComRes, a research company in the U.K., Europe and Asia, found that 83 percent of people in Britain are uncomfortable speaking about death. And more than half have partners who don’t know their partners’ death wishes, the study found.

“Despite this widespread reluctance to talk about dying and plan ahead, 80 percent of the public believe all adults should be required to have a will to avoid disputes after they have died,” the study read. “There’s also a real desire for doctors to receive support in talking about dying: 90 percent of the public agree that all healthcare professionals should receive compulsory training in how to talk sensitively to people who are dying and their families.”

Aiding people in the discussion of death is something that’s been creeping into the mainstream of American culture. Movies like “Heaven is For Real” offer a peek into what America thinks about the afterlife and death, and other films and TV shows constantly show death.

But there’s more than that. Erick Eckholm of The New York Times reported in February about assisted dying, where those with terminally ill conditions who are on the brink of death can get help from others.

“There is a quiet, constant demand all over the country for a right to die on one’s own terms, said Barbara Coombs Lee, president of Compassion & Choices, and that demand is likely to grow, she said, as the baby boomers age.”

Email: hscribner@deseretdigital.com, Twitter: @herbscribner

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