Sunday, August 31, 2014

Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: most popular blog articles.

1.Physician-Assisted Suicide: A Recipe for Elder Abuse and the Illusion of Personal Choice - February 17, 2011.

2. Euthanasia is out-of-control in the Netherlands – September 25, 2012.

3. Declaration of Hope – January 17, 2013. 

4. Belgian twins euthanized out of fear of blindness – January 14, 2013.

5. Petition: Stop euthanasia Bill 52 in Quebec – May 24, 2014

6. Nitschke continues to promote Nembutal sales over the internet – June 22, 2010.

7. 5 reasons why people devalue the elderly – May 25, 2010.

8. Depressed Belgian woman dies by Euthanasia – February 6, 2013.

9. Trisomy 18 is not a Death Sentence. The story of Lilliana Dennis – May 29, 2012.

10. QuĂ©bec's euthanasia Bill 52 is lethal - December 12, 2013.

11. Dr Phil show: Woman wants to euthanize her adult children with disabilities – April 16, 2012.

12. Hassan Rasouli to be transferred from Sunnybrook hospital - January 6, 2014.

13. Belgium euthanasia study finds that nearly half of all euthanasia deaths are not reported – December 4, 2010.

14. Botched sex-change operation victim euthanized in Belgium – October 1, 2013.

15. Dutch ethicist changed his mind  - Assisted Suicide: Dont Go There - July 16, 2014.

16. Elder abuse caught on video, incident is not isolated - May 22, 2013.

17. Mild stroke led to mother’s forced death by dehydration – September 27, 2011.

18. Suicide/Asphyxiation Exit Kit company raided by FBI – May 26, 2011.

19. Oregon Suicide rate soars after legalizing assisted suicide - September 12, 2010.

20. Oregon 2012 Assisted Suicide report - January 24, 2013.

Other important articles:

Become a member of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition ($25) membership.

Friday, August 29, 2014

John Kelly: Disability Rights Organizations Oppose Assisted Suicide

This article was originally published on the Not Dead Yet blog on August 28, 2014

By John B. Kelly - the New England regional director for Not Dead Yet and the director of Second Thoughts Massachusetts.

John Kelly in Connecticut
Disability rights advocates and organizations have long opposed legalization of assisted suicide. In the mid 1990s, Not Dead Yet organized to oppose Jack Kevorkian’s assisted suicides, two thirds of which ended the lives of non-terminal, disabled people. Over the last 20 years, every major national disability rights organization that has taken a position on assisted suicide, firmly opposes it. In recent state level campaigns, disability rights opposition has been a key factor in stopping assisted suicide bills.
The authors (Myers and Hankinson, “People living with disabilities support death with dignity”) base their argument on results from three state polls and quotes from scientist Stephen Hawking. Let’s look at the three states. In Massachusetts, disabled advocates formed the group Second Thoughts during the 2012 assisted suicide ballot campaign. We took the name from our finding that the more people learn about assisted suicide, the more they oppose it. We gathered support from 11 major state-wide disability organizations; no disability organizations came out in favor. And in the most recent legislative session, Second Thoughts joined with the Massachusetts Medical Society and the Hospice & Palliative Care Federation to quash a similar bill.

When Connecticut proponents put forward bills in two consecutive sessions, our sister group Second Thoughts Connecticut organized with the disability protection and advocacy agency and the Connecticut Council on Developmental Disability to stop the bills. Hugh McQuaid wrote in CT News Junkie that “Both this year and last year, people with disabilities and their advocates have been among the bill’s most outspoken opponents. Many testified against the bill during its public hearing.”

Lastly, the authors cited New Jersey, where disability opposition was just credited with stalling an assisted suicide bill. Susan Livio of wrote “Disability advocates, fearing the legislation could be manipulated to prematurely end patients’ lives, turned out in force to testify against the bill when it passed the Assembly Health and Senior Citizens Committee earlier this month.”

In reality, assisted suicide is the ultimate denial of choice. Bob Kafka, national leader of ADAPT, points to the enforced poverty, lack of available home care, and terror of nursing homes confronting seniors and disabled people who need assistance. The lack of choices is reflected in the statistics from Oregon, where 90% of suicides are ascribed to “loss of autonomy,” and 40% to “feelings of being a burden.” Kafka says, “Society is failing to ensure that seniors and people with disabilities have access to consumer controlled long term services and supports when they need them. The last thing we need is for those in power to make a public policy choice, during this time of vast budget cuts in Medicaid health and long term care, that an early death is the cost saving answer to these very real human needs.”

Links to similar articles:

Reports of assisted suicide in Switzerland are 'highly exaggerated.'

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Recent media reports have exaggerating the number of assisted suicide deaths in Switzerland, according to a report published by Swiss Info media. The article points out that the number of people dying by assisted suicide in Switzerland is relatively exaggerated.

The article explains that a relatively small number of Swiss citizens are dying by assisted suicide and very few people who are properly cared for by palliative care die by assisted suicide. The article states:

“Assisted suicide remains a minority choice,” Andreas Weber, a palliative care specialist at the Wetzikon Hospital near Zurich, told 
“For a large majority, it is never an option in the first place, and for most of the people who consider it when they first face their diagnosis, it is off the cards once we reduce their concerns and explain what we can do.” 
Another specialist, Maria Walshe, shares Weber’s view. “I’m only aware of a couple of isolated cases where our patients made use of that option,” Walshe said. “At the Centre for Palliative Care at the Winterthur Cantonal Hospital our job is never to shorten a life, but primarily to ease the symptoms. We talk to the patients, consult their wishes and define their needs without any prejudice.” 
The only cases in which experts know patients will see it through are what they describe as “rational suicide”. Those are intellectuals who have already made up their minds in advance. They have settled their affairs, they are a member of Exit, and are ready to die. It is virtually impossible to change their minds, Weber explained.
In a recent article I explain that people who were are not sick, have died by assisted suicide in Switzerland. In fact, one study showed that 16% were not dying and a larger study showed that 25% of the people who died by assisted suicide were not dying.

The fact that some people have already "made up their minds" means that assisted suicide is the option of the few privileged persons. Giving doctors the right in law to cause your death will result in some abuse. 

Legalizing assisted suicide is not necessary considering the fact that the privileged few who demand assisted suicide can also be properly cared-for rather than killed.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Robin Williams and the hypocrisy of suicide prevention organizations.

This article was originally published on August 24, 2014 on the Not Dead Yet website.

Stephen Drake
By Stephen Drake, Research Analyst with Not Dead Yet USA

The sudden emergence of suicide prevention organizations and their representatives in the media responding to the death of Robin Williams has been mind-blowingly outrageous to me – I track the suicide coverage – assisted and non-assisted – of old, ill and disabled people regularly. It’s part of my job. A near-constant in reading and watching that coverage has been the near-total absence of suicide prevention organizations and professionals in reacting to any suicide of old, ill or elderly people labelled as “right to die,” death with dignity,” “end of life,” “assisted suicide” or any other terminology that seeks to differentiate the suicides of some people from the larger group deemed as “preventable tragedies.”

In the aftermath of Robin Williams’ apparent suicide, suicide prevention experts and the press want to take special care about warning the public and make sure that the coverage of his death doesn’t spark a rise in suicidal behavior. Here’s a sampling of the reactions, starting with a response to a tweet put out by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences as reported in the Washington Post:

On Monday night, as fans around the world began to grieve Robin Williams’s death, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — best known, in many circles, as the people behind the Oscars — sent out what may be the iconic social media image of Williams’s death. 
          “@TheAcademy: Genie, you’re free.” 
          8:26 AM – 12 Aug 2014 Los Angeles, CA, United States 
More than 270,000 people have shared the tweet, which means that, per the analytics site Topsy, as many as 69 million people have seen it. 
The problem? It violates well-established public health standards for how we talk about suicide. 
“If it doesn’t cross the line, it comes very, very close to it,” said Christine Moutier, chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “Suicide should never be presented as an option. That’s a formula for potential contagion.” (Emphasis added.) 
Moutier is referring to a well-documented phenomenon, better-known as “copycat suicide,” in which media coverage or publicity around one death encourages other vulnerable people to commit suicide in the same way. Adolescents are most at risk of suicide contagion; in recent years, groups like AFSP have also become particularly attentive to the role the Internet plays in romanticizing notorious or high-profile deaths, something it has long asked both the news and entertainment industries to avoid. 
“The potential for online reports, photos/videos and stories to go viral makes it vital that online coverage of suicide follow site or industry safety recommendations,” one media guide reads. 
But in the hours since @TheAcademy’s tweet went viral, professionals like Moutier have become concerned that it doesn’t, in fact, follow established safety recommendations. The starry sky from Disney’s Aladdin, and the written implication that suicide is somehow a liberating option, presents suicide in too celebratory a light, Moutier said.

The International Business Times presented this quote from a representative of the American Association of Suicidology:
The American Association of Suicidology has advised journalists to sensitively cover the death because certain types of news coverage are believed to increase the likelihood of suicide in vulnerable individuals. The association noted that the risk of copycat suicides increases when the story specifically describes the suicide method, but covering the suicide carefully can change public misperceptions and prompt those who are vulnerable or at risk to seek help.
Those are just two examples, but they’re typical of the way in which top suicide prevention organizations have been aggressively going after the press and spreading caution about the harm caused by irresponsible journalism.

I, for one, am extremely unimpressed and underwhelmed by the suicide prevention brigade. Even in this latest episode of a publicized suicide, I see nothing in their messaging to indicate that any of the organizations or their reps care at all if old, ill and disabled people kill ourselves (unless, of course, we’re Robin Williams).

Let me offer up one more quote before I talk about the total lack of integrity these organizations have shown in regard to suicides of old, ill and disabled people – deaths I get to read about far too often. This is from Michelle Cornette, executive director of the American Association of Suicidology, who appeared on Lawrence O’Donnell’s show “The Last Word” on MSNBC:

I think what`s really important to keep in mind with respect to suicidal thinking and individuals who die by suicide is that they have essentially reached a cognitive state where they`re not really thinking about other people. In fact, there`s some interesting research that`s come out in recent years indicating there`s a very strong association between perceptions of burden on others and risk for suicide, meaning the individuals come to believe that their death is worth more than their life to their loved ones. (Emphasis added.)
Starting with that last point – about the association of being a burden – there’s an elephant in the living room (one of many) in Oregon assisted suicide data. According to information given by prescribing doctors, 49% of people requesting assisted suicide give “being a burden” as a major reason for wanting to commit suicide. Oregon, btw, has one of the highest overall suicide rates in the country, and the rates for all ages are climbing. The state government (and suicide prevention organizations) aren’t inclined to look at legalized assisted suicide and the promotion of suicide as rational, even brave by both pro-assisted organizations and the press and how they might be influencing the overall suicide rates. One would think that good science would dictate at least considering a contagion effect from the normalization of suicide under the assisted suicide statute. It’s interesting – and disturbing – that outside of ex-director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) Herb Hendin, I’ve never heard or read any suicide prevention professional highlight that the feeling of “being a burden” is a significant risk factor for suicide in general.

All of these suicide prevention organizations have media guidelines on reporting responsibly when covering suicides. Among those guidelines are:
*Suicide is complex. There are almost always multiple causes, including psychiatric illnesses, that may not have been recognized or treated. However, these illnesses are treatable.• Refer to research findings that mental disorders and/or substance abuse have been found in 90% of people who have died by suicide.• Avoid reporting that death by suicide was preceded by a single event, such as a recent job loss, divorce or bad grades. Reporting like this leaves the public with an overly simplistic and misleading understanding of suicide.• Consider quoting a suicide prevention expert on causes and treatments. Avoid putting expert opinions in a sensationalistic context.• Use your story to inform readers about the causes of suicide, its warning signs, trends in rates and recent treatment advances.• Add statement(s) about the many treatment options available, stories of those who overcame a suicidal crisis and resources for help.• Include up-to-date local/national resources where readers/viewers can find treatment, information and advice that promotes help-seeking. (Source:

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The fear of challenging the Belgian euthanasia law.

By: Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick - Not Dead Yet UK and Director of EPC - Europe.

Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick
People in Belgium more or less ‘go along’ with the idea of euthanasia, even as the practice of euthanasia becomes more than problematic.

Nurses like Claire-Maire Luu-Etchecopar, who dare to ask questions, are threatened with losing not just their jobs in a particular ward or hospital, but in the healthcare system in Belgium. In effect, their whole careers and their livelihoods are threatened. It takes a special courage to be a whistle-blower concerning euthanasia in Belgium.

Scratch the surface in other places and a culture of fear and suppression in Belgium appears. Critics of Belgium’s euthanasia policies feel they cannot afford to do so in public, for the results appear dire. Senior consultants and journalists are afraid to even have a cup of coffee to discuss their worries.

But even when people and families avail themselves of Belgium’s euthanasia programme, either wholeheartedly or perhaps more commonly, uneasily but still willingly, there are stories to chill the spine.

One woman who attended our EPC Europe seminar last May told us her mother had chosen a euthanasia death. The doctor who was to do the euthanasia pushed a form towards her. It was the legal release of her mother’s brain to medical science. Neither she nor her mother wanted this. But the doctor refused to do the euthanasia if she did not sign it. Caught, but deeply unhappy, she signed.

Alex Schadenberg debating.
The idea that Belgium is a haven of good practice, any kind of standard for moral behaviour is risible. The absurdity of claiming Belgium as the pinnacle of ethical behaviour in euthanasia practice is all the more ridiculous when we hear how it actually affects lives, even when people ‘go along with it’. Never mind when they are horrified by it.

At the opening of the debate in Brussels in November (2013) I reminded the audience of the Irish thinker Edmund Burke’s phrase: 
‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good [wo]men to do nothing.’ 
That can seem harsh, but it is my firm belief that now is the moment for people in Belgium to come together and say ‘Stop!’ – otherwise it really will be too late.

Dutch euthanasia clinic lethally injects elderly woman who didn't want to live in a nursing home.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Euthanasia Clinic
A recent article by Professor Theo Boer, a Dutch ethicist who has been a member of a euthanasia monitoring committee in the Netherlands for 9 years, warned the rest of the world to not legalize assisted suicide or euthanasia.

An article published by explains that a euthanasia clinic was reprimanded for the death of an elderly woman, who had a stroke and died by euthanasia because she didn't want to live permanently in a nursing home. It sounds like elder abuse to me. The article stated:
The euthanasia monitoring committee said the clinic’s experts had failed to exercise proper care when carrying out their duties. The public prosecution department is now investigating the case, Trouw reported on Wednesday. 
Theo Boer
In his article
, Boer wrote that he had supported the Dutch euthanasia law, but after 12 years experience, he changed his mind based on the uncontrollable expansion of reasons for euthanasia:
Whereas in the first years after 2002 hardly any patients with psychiatric illnesses or dementia appear in reports, these numbers are now sharply on the rise. Cases have been reported in which a large part of the suffering of those given euthanasia or assisted suicide consisted in being aged, lonely or bereaved. Some of these patients could have lived for years or decades.
Boer concludes his article by urging the world not to legalize euthanasia because:
Once the genie is out of the bottle, it is not likely to ever go back in again.
Whether the public prosecution department deems this euthanasia death to be acceptable or not, the woman is dead, the supposed "safeguards" didn't protect her, and the euthanasia clinic decided that death was preferable to living with the affects of a stroke.

Links to other similar articles:

Death with Dignity Act lacks effective safeguards to protect depressed people.

This letter was written by Donna Goodwin and published in the New York Daily News on August 27, 2014.
Assisted suicide brings with it consequences on society that The Times’ editorial board ignored in its most current editorial on the situation, "Death with Dignity for the Terminally Ill proposal includes vital safeguards" (Aug. 10).

In Washington state and Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal, there is virtually no oversight to safeguard for those who may possibly be depressed, which generally, if not normally, occurs at some point throughout the course of an illness. 
Supposed “safeguards” written into the bill are full of holes.  It has been alleged that all people who obtain a prescription for the deadly dose of drugs will be mentally competent.  How is it, then, that Michael Freeland in Oregon, a man with a 40-year documented history of depression, received a prescription by a medical professional for the lethal drugs? 
The language in the bill that all who request the drugs are capable of creating that choice are mere words on paper and totally ineffective. 
Donna Goodwin,