Thursday, October 23, 2008

Spokane VA hospital preventing suicides

What a confusing world we live in.

Information in the Seattle PI explains that the Spokane Veterans Affairs Medical Centre has appointed a suicide prevention coordinator to oversee mandatory suicide prevention training for every employee at the hospital.

There have been six suicide deaths this year alone in that hospital.

I fully endorse the need for a suicide prevention coordinator in hospitals and long-term care facilities to properly care for people who are experiencing depression, mental illness or psychological problems.

But isn't there going to be a problem if Washington State voters decide to support the I-1000 assisted suicide Initiative?

Will the staff of this hospital be forced to abandon a patient who has received a legal lethal dose to their autonomy, even though that person has become depressed and mentally incompetent?

Will legalizing assisted suicide in Washington State not create an inequality among the patients in hospitals, whereby one patient is given the green light to go ahead and ingest a death cocktail while the next patient is discouraged to commit suicide, through the provision of counseling and anti-depressant medications?

If you believe that my concerns are far-fetched then go to the study by Hamilton and Hamilton entitled: Competing Paradigms of Response to Assisted Suicide Requests in Oregon that was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry in June 2005.

In reference to a Mr. A. who was being discharged after being diagnosed with depression and suicidal ideation, Hamilton and Hamilton report:
"The day after discharge, the same psychiatrist who said Mr. A kept the assisted suicide drugs "safely at home" wrote a letter supporting guardianship by saying he "is susceptible to periods of confusion and impaired judgement." He concluded that Mr. A was unable to handle his own affairs and that his cognitive impairments were unlikely to improve. As court records later revealed, his primary care doctor had written a similar letter in which he stated: "I do support guardianship... as I think both his disease process and medications needed to control his level of pain are impairing his judgement and ability to care for himself.

A judge declared Mr. A incompetent to make his own medical decisions and assigned him a temporary guardian. Nevertheless, the assisted suicide drugs remained in his home."

Vote NO to the Washington State I-1000 assisted suicide initiative.

Link to the article in the Seattle PI

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