Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Oregon's 2013 assisted suicide report

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Oregon's 2013 assisted suicide statistics have been released. Link to the report.

This 2013 annual report is similar to prior years. The preamble implies that the deaths were voluntary (self-administered), but the information reported does not address that subject.

Oregon's assisted suicide law, itself, allows the lethal dose to be administered without oversight. This creates the opportunity for an heir, or someone else who will benefit from the patient's death, to administer the lethal dose to the patient without the patient's consent. "Even if he struggled, who would know?"

The new report provides the following demographics:

There were 71 assisted suicide deaths and 122 prescriptions for suicide in 2013,

The 122 prescriptions for suicide resulted in (63) people dying by assisted suicide [8 people who died by assisted suicide obtained a lethal prescription in a previous year], (28) deaths from other causes, (31) people - the status is unknown, (7) people died but no information is known, and the status is pending for (24) deaths.

69% were aged 65 years or older; the median age was 71 years. As in previous years, most were white (94.4%), well-educated (53.3% had at least a baccalaureate degree).

Only 2 of the 71 people who died by assisted suicide received a psychiatric evaluation.

The prescribing physician was present at the death in 8 of the 71 deaths.

Typically persons with these attributes are seniors with money, which would be the middle class and above, a group disproportionately at risk of financial abuse and exploitation.

Oregon's law is written so as to allow such abuse to occur without anyone knowing. The new report is statistically consistent with elder abuse.

In 2013 there was a significant increase (12) in assisted suicide deaths related to "other illnesses." The list of other illnesses includes chronic conditions, such as diabetes.

The Oregon assisted suicide act is not limited to terminally ill people. Jeanette Hall, was terminally ill and wanted to die by assisted suicide in 2000, but her doctor convinced her to try medical treatment has been in remission for many years. She is happy to be alive today 

For more information:


elizsend said...

Thank you for writing so eloquently on this important topic. The links in your articles are also very informative.

TedH said...

I have posted your article on "Oregon's assisted suicide report on our website at . I wanted to get this article directly to our readers as soon as possible. If, however, you for any reason do not want the whole article republished on our site, please let me know, and I will remove it.
Ted Hewlett(president of British Columbia Parents and Teachers for Life)

Alex Schadenberg said...

Thank you Ted.

I prefer the whole article being published to ensure that it remains accurate.