Assisted Suicide Largely Shunned

Article excerpt

The majority of dying patients would not choose physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia to end their lives, a new study has found.

About one of ten patients who were terminally ill said they seriously considered using euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide. Fewer than 6 percent said they had seriously discussed either measure for themselves or hoarded drugs with the intent of committing suicide.

One patient in the study made an unsuccessful suicide attempt and another died as a result of one of the measures. The study said a physician-assisted suicide occurs when patients end their lives with the help of a doctor; euthanasia was defined as another person ending a patient's life at the request of the patient.

The study, published in the November 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, is considered to be the first major assessment of attitudes of terminally ill patients regarding these two hotly contested issues.

The research found that those who consider euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are affected by depression, feel unappreciated and have substantial need for help with basics such as eating, dressing, transportation and homemaking. Researchers also learned that shortness of breath, rather than pain, is the physical symptom most closely tied to first thoughts of taking such action. …