Doctor-Prescribed Suicide in Washington and Oregon — Uncomfortable Facts
DPS in Oregon
- Doctor-Prescribed Suicide has often been proposed as an alternative to living with unbearable pain. In fact, almost no one who has utilized the suicide option gave pain as his reason. Fear of pain, fear of losing autonomy, and fear of being a burden to family were among the most common reasons. Doctor-Prescribed Suicide is presented as an alternative to helping these patients address their fears and as a cure for conditions that they merely suspect will happen at some point in the future (not current difficulties).
- There have been documented cases of patients with dementia or mental illness using the DPS law to commit suicide.
- A phenomenon known as “doctor shopping,” most commonly associated with the abuse of prescription drugs, has arisen around DPS in Oregon. A network of suicide advocates exists to make sure patients find doctors who will prescribe lethal drugs, even when their family physician believes their desire for death is premature or irrational.
- According to a report in the Oregonian, familial pressure and even coercion from unrelated care-providers is often applied to push patients into assisted suicide.
- According to published reports from 2008, Oregon’s Health Plan pays for suicide drugs but does not cover all pain relieving or life-extending treatments. It even mails patients information about suicide drugs when it denies their requests for other treatments.
DPS in Washington
- In Washington state the same drug that is used in many executions nationwide is given to patients seeking DPS as medicine.
- According to the Patient’s Rights Council More than half of the patients utilizing Doctor-Prescribed Suicide are individuals who had only Medicare or Medicaid health insurance coverage suggesting lack of means as a driver of medical suicide.
- 63% of DPS patients report concerns over being a “burden” as their reason for opting for suicide. This suggests social pressure on the ill and elderly to “do the right thing” and kill one’s self now that the option is available.
- Contrary to predictions made by suicide advocates prior to the legalization of DPS, the number of patients opting for suicide has gone steadily up each year since the law was passed.
Gazini et al: Journal of General Internal Medecine (J Gen Intern Med), 2008 Feb. 23:154-7.
American Journal of Psychiatry, Volume 162, June 2005, “Competing Paradigms of Response to Assisted Suicide Requests in Oregon.”
“Tenth Annual Report on Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act,” Oregon Dpt. of Human Services; Office of desease Prevention and Epidemiology, April 2008.
Patients Rights Council, “Fifth Annual Report on Doctor-Prescribed Suicide.” June 2014.
Patients Rights Council, “Fourth Annual Report on Doctor-Prescribed Suicide.” June 2013.