Human Exceptionalism

Oregon Assisted Suicide Prescriptions on the Rise

The Oregon Department of Human Services has issued its virtually worthless annual report for 2007. (Hit this link for details about the empirical unreliability of this yearly charade.) Based on what the Department was told by prescribing physicians–that is where almost all the information comes from–here is a sampling of the information reported to the public:

– During 2007, 85 prescriptions for lethal medications were written under the provisions of the DWDA compared to 65 during 2006 (Figure). Of these, 46 patients took the medications, 26 died of their underlying disease, and 13 were alive at the end of 2007.
– As in previous years, the most frequently mentioned end-of-life concerns were: loss of autonomy (100%), decreasing ability to participate in activities that made life enjoyable (86%), and loss of dignity (86%). During 2007, more participants were concerned about inadequate pain control (33%) than in previous years (26%). [Note, the report doesn’t let us know if any patient actually had inadequate pain control.]
– As in previous years, the most frequently mentioned end-of-life concerns were: loss of autonomy (100%), decreasing ability to participate in activities that made life enjoyable (86%), and loss of dignity (86%). During 2007, more participants were concerned about inadequate pain control (33%) than in previous years (26%).

The report also said that 88% were enrolled in hospice. But part of hospice care is supposed to include suicide prevention when a patient expresses a desire to commit suicide. Wanna bet that didn’t happen in these cases? How do we know? The attached statistical data indicates that there were zero referrals of suicidal patients to mental health professionals.