Friday, August 2, 2019

Washington State: Nearly 25% more assisted suicide deaths in 2018.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The 2018 Washington State assisted suicide report indicates that there was nearly 25% more assisted suicide deaths in 2018. The data in the report indicates that there were:
  • 203 reported assisted suicide deaths, up from 164 in 2017, 
  • 267 lethal prescriptions dispensed, up from 212 in 2017,
  • 29 known natural deaths, 
  • 19 unknown deaths and 
  • 16 where the death status was pending. 

The 19 unknown deaths may have been unreported assisted suicide deaths.

I use the term "reported" since Washington State has a self-reporting system, meaning the doctor who prescribes the lethal drugs is also the doctor who submits the report. There is no way to know if the doctor reported accurate data.

Link to the: Washington State 2017 assisted suicide report.

There were more complications in 2018, likely related to the new lethal drug cocktails. The report states that 8 people reportedly experienced complications, which was up from 4 in 2017. Also, 62 people died more than 90 minutes after taking the lethal drugs and the range of time to die ranged from 7 minutes to 30 hours.

The lethal drug cocktails that were developed to lower cost are known to cause side-effects. The Seattle Times reported:

The first Seconal alternative turned out to be too harsh, burning patients’ mouths and throats, causing some to scream in pain. The second drug mix, ... has led to deaths that stretched out hours in some patients — and up to 31 hours in one case.
People who are approved for assisted suicide are not always terminally ill. According to the data 27 people lived for 25 weeks or more, after requesting assisted suicide and at least one person lived 115 weeks (more than two years).

The main reasons people requested assisted suicide in Washington State was:

  • 85% Loss of Autonomy,
  • 84% Less able to engage in activities making life enjoyable,
  • 69% Loss of Dignity,
  • 51% Burden on family.
Pain is the least reason people ask for assisted suicide. 

The new lethal drug cocktails should make people fear a painful assisted suicide death.

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