The Future of Assisted Suicide

Those who advocate for laws legalizing physician-assisted suicide (PAS) have said the legislation is good for society because it will discourage or delay people from committing suicide.

A study of suicide rates in Oregon, Washington and Vermont, where PAS is legal, showed the exact opposite was true.

This is good information to have, especially going into next week.

PAS advocates tell us that if terminally ill individuals know they have the option of lethal medication, they won’t resort to unlawful suicide, or that they will delay making a decision to die by suicide.

Neither of those promises has been fulfilled.

A recent study titled How Does Legalization of Physician-Assisted Suicide Affect Rates of Suicide? researched exactly what its title infers. It looked at the states of Oregon, Washington, and Vermont where PAS has been legalized, and compared the suicide rates of these states with their suicide statistics before PAS was legalized. Further, it looked at the suicide rates of states where PAS was not legal.

Researchers found that “legalizing PAS was associated with a 6.3% increase in total suicides.” (Emphasis added) These laws haven’t reduced the number of suicides, nor have they delayed death by suicide.

Their conclusion further states: “Legalizing PAS has been associated with an increased rate of total suicides relative to other states and no decrease in nonassisted suicides.” Actually, PAS “is associated with an increased inclination to suicide in other individuals.” (Emphasis added)

Why is it important to know this information, especially next week?

September is Suicide Prevention Month, with an emphasis on September 10-16 as Suicide Prevention Week.

Here are some sobering facts regarding suicide:

  • There are 44,193 annual deaths by suicide
  • It’s the 10th leading cause of death in America
  • A majority of suicide deaths are due to metal illness, depression or PTSD

We tackled the issue of suicide in a TV episode of Facing Life Head-On. Viewers hear a chilling account of a woman who attempted suicide. Family members of victims of suicide share their grief and tragic wisdom. And you will learn the warning signs from experts in the field of suicide prevention.

This is an opportunity to speak up for life by telling others that physician-assisted suicide laws aren’t only a failure; they’re a serious threat to others. Share that PAS laws actually increase the incident of suicide. Then explain why suicide is a growing national tragedy. Post your comments on social media and include links to this information and video. Be a proactive warrior for life.

The good news.

The momentum in favor of PAS is shifting. This year alone 23 states have defeated bills legalizing PAS, including New York and Rhode Island.

This fall four more states are expected to reject similar PAS legislation.

The reasons behind the defeat of these measures have been bipartisan legislative efforts combined with cooperative labors of both liberal and conservative organizations.

Other good news is that a Hawaii circuit court rejected an attempt to exempt a PAS law from criminal prosecution.

The battle is far from over, but hopefully I’ve given you added tools to successfully engage others and boldly defend LIFE.

Working to protect the vulnerable,

Bradley Mattes
President, Life Issues Institute

Life Issues Institute is dedicated to changing hearts and minds of millions of people through education. For 25 years, organizations and individuals around the world have depended upon Life Issues Institute to provide the latest information and effective tools to protect innocent human life from womb to tomb.

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  • isaiah541

    The last year the NIH recorded death-by-suicide rates the total was somewhere around 75 thousand. Then they decided they would no longer list Suicides as a category. So now I wonder if your data has been skewed by the absence of at least a portion of actual statistics. It seemed to me, at the time I saw this change, that the NIH, WHO or whatever agency has oversight on what is tracked simply decided the numbers were embarrassingly high. They would go into crisis-mode over a strain of Flu that killed 5 or 25 people, but there has been no national drama to prevent suicides. Mental Health always comes up short when we try to prevent avoidable deaths.