Monthly Archives

March 2014

Assisted Suicide and Depression: A personal experience.

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Alex Schadenberg 24 March 2014
My concern with the legalization of assisted suicide is the psychological impact on the rest of society. I am writing from my personal experience.
I have dealt with depression for almost 50 of my 63 years. I have been suicidal on numerous occasions and at one point, within the past ten years, I experienced active suicidal ideation for a continuous six-month period almost 24 hours per day. I even carried a knife in my handbag, just waiting for the right moment to stab myself.
When I learned of the assisted suicide story of the Canadian woman who went to Switzerland, I personally heard the message that my life was not worth living. That assisted suicide death gave me the message that when things get really bad and there doesn’t seem to be any hope, I should give up my struggle. Being actively suicidal is often a terminal illness.
I have been struggling during the past 35 years, in particular, through multiple varieties of therapy and medication and through hospitalizations.
Adults are role models. No amount of denial will change that fact of human nature. Children imitate what they see their parents, teachers, idols and even their peers doing.

David Cameron 'to oppose assisted suicide vote'

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The Independent 26 March 2014
People could feel “unfairly pressurised” into ending their lives if laws on assisted dying are relaxed, David Cameron has warned.
The Prime Minister indicated he would oppose a move to legalise allowing terminally ill adults with less than six months to live to choose to be helped to kill themselves.
His intervention came after Liberal Democrat Care Minister Norman Lamb spoke out in favour of reform, which he claimed had “quite widespread public support”.
Legislation has been drawn up by Labour former lord chancellor Lord Falconer of Thoroton and MPs would be allowed a free vote on the issue if it is debated in the House of Commons.
Under Lord Falconer’s proposals, two doctors would have to sign off the fatal dose.

Euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke risks ban

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The Australian 25 March 2014
Euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke is facing a third inquiry that could lead to his being barred from medical practice, after a complaint that he promoted euthanasia for social reasons, such as not being able to play golf. The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency received the complaint after a lecture by Dr Nitschke at the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital pain management unit in Perth. AHPRA has given Dr Nitschke until the end of this week to respond to the February complaint from one of the doctors at the hospital expressing concern “about him promoting euthanasia for ‘social reasons’. These reasons include reaching a certain age, not being able to play golf, and grief at the death of a spouse,” the complaint said and noted that Dr Nitschke “actively promotes assisted suicides/euthanasia”.
It is the third complaint against Dr Nitschke being considered by AHPRA. The watchdog has launched investigations into complaints he tried to import the sedative nembutal to use as a sleeping pill for a terminally ill patient and set up a sham beer-brewing company, Max Dog Brewing, to import nitrogen cylinders capable of being used for suicide. The first inquiry is looking at claims Dr Nitschke tried to “facilitate the supply of the unapproved medicine, pentobarbital sodium”. The second inquiry is into Max Dog Brewing, which is advertised on euthanasia websites as able to provide nitrogen tanks, which are compatible with plastic bags used for suffocation.

CMF NZ Releases Position Statement on Euthanasia

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Christian Medical Fellowship of NZ 8 March 2014
CMF NZ has released its first position statement that tackles the important issues of Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide. This statement was developed by a working party that emerged from the 2013 national conference, and approved by the board after feedback was sought from the wider membership. Our position statement was initially written in response to the private members End of Life Choice Bill proposed by Labour MP Maryan Street in 2012. The Bill has since been withdrawn prior to the 2014 general election, but Ms Street has expressed her intent to re-submit the Bill to the Ballot after the election.
The initial part of our statement:
“We believe that every individual should have the right to die with dignity with the availability of compassionate medical and nursing care that takes account of physical, mental and spiritual needs, so that the end of life is as peaceful as possible for the individual and his or her family.  We also uphold the patient’s autonomy to refuse or discontinue treatment at any time.
There is increasing debate about end of life issues. We acknowledge that this arises from many factors including personal fear of being in a situation of intolerable suffering and the desire to stay in personal control of the process of dying.
As doctors we have a duty of care to our patients which is built on the trust and confidence of our relationship with our patients, a relationship which has often developed over many years. To this end we believe that high quality palliative care should be available and adequately resourced throughout the country. We strongly believe there is no place for euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide (PAS).”
CMF NZ full statement, including basis of our position and arguments for it, can be found here or downloaded in a word document:

Recession has heightened euthanasia 'danger' to disabled and elderly, claims peer

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The Telegraph 12 March 2014
The threat to frail elderly and disabled people from relatives tempted to get rid of them under the guise of euthanasia has grown “dramatically” in the wake of the economic downturn, one of Britain’s most prominent disability campaigners has claimed.
Baroness Campbell of Surbiton, who suffers from a degenerative illness, issued an impassioned plea in the House of Lords against moves to further relax Britain’s laws on assisted suicide.
She said that it was a “dangerous time” to consider any change.
She argued that part of the legacy of the long economic downturn and austerity programme had been a serious hardening of attitudes towards vulnerable members of society.
Pensioners and disabled people are routinely branded “scroungers” or accused of being a “burden” and in some cases suffering open abuse and even attacks, she said.

‘Father of palliative care’ Slams Quebec Euthanasia Bill

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Epoch Times 12 February 2014
With Quebec’s euthanasia bill expected to undergo its final vote on Friday, a Canadian physician considered the father of palliative care in North America says legalizing doctor-assisted death would be a “disastrous mistake.”
Dr. Balfour Mount has made it his life’s work to help ease the suffering of critically ill patients. He coined the phrase “palliative care” (to palliate means to improve the quality of something), and set up the first ward at McGill’s Royal Victoria Hospital in 1973.
Mount, 74, has a unique perspective on the euthanasia debate, having experience on both sides of the hospital bed. He has survived decades of critical illness including testicular cancer in his 20s, esophageal cancer in his 60s, and a heart attack.
Mount admits that in his darkest moments of suffering it was easy to lose hope and the will to live. Even now, he has to sleep sitting up because if he lies down the contents of his bowels will run into his lungs, and it’s been that way for 14 years.
Despite it all, he says euthanasia was never an option.

20 most popular articles on euthanasia & assisted suicide.

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Alex Schadenberg 27 February 2014
1. Physician-Assisted Suicide: A Recipe for Elder Abuse and the Illusion of Personal Choice. – February 17, 2011. 

2. Euthanasia is out-of-control in the Netherlands – September 25, 2012.

3. Declaration of Hope – January 17, 2013.

4. Belgian twins euthanized out of fear of blindness – January 14, 2013.

5. Nitschke continues to promote Nembutal sales over the internet – June 22, 2010.

6. Dr Phil show: Woman wants to euthanize her adult children with disabilities. – April 16, 2012.

7. Belgium euthanasia study finds that nearly half of all euthanasia deaths are not reported. – December 4, 2010.

8. 5 reasons why people devalue the elderly – May 25, 2010.

9. Trisomy 18 is not a Death Sentence. The story of Lilliana Dennis – May 29, 2012.

10. Québec’s euthanasia Bill 52 is lethal. December 12, 2013.

11Elder abuse caught on video, incident is not isolated. May 22, 2013.

12. Depressed Belgian woman dies by Euthanasia – February 6, 2013.

13. Botched sex-change operation victim euthanized in Belgium – October 1, 2013.

14. Suicide/Asphyxiation Exit Kit company raided by FBI. – May 26, 2011.

15. Oregon Suicide rate soars after legalizing assisted suicide. – September 12, 2010.

16. Bill to outlaw euthanasia by dehydration passed by Italy’s lower house. – July 13, 2011.

17. Euthanasia Poll: What do the people of Quebec really want. – November 22, 2010.

18. Mild stroke led to mother’s forced death by dehydration – September 27, 2011.

19. Belgium Senate will vote on Bill to extend euthanasia to children with disabilities – November 21, 2013.

20. Oregon 2012 Assisted Suicide statistics – January 24, 2013

Women, divorcees and atheists most likely to choose assisted suicide

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Mail Online 19 February 2014 
Women, highly educated, divorced and rich people are more likely to die from assisted suicide, new research has revealed.
Researchers in Switzerland, where assisted suicide is legal, found that of people helped by right-to-die organisations such as Dignitas, around 16 per cent of death certificates did not register an underlying cause. 
They say this indicates that an increasing number of people may simply becoming ‘weary of life’.
The research, published online in the International Journal of Epidemiology – that shows assisted suicide is more common in women, the divorced, those living alone, the more educated, those with no religious affiliation, and those from wealthier areas. 
A previous study of suicides by two right-to-die organizations showed that 25 per cent of those assisted had no fatal illness, instead citing ‘weariness of life’ as a factor.  

In this study, researchers from the University of Bern looked at anonymous data on 1,301 cases of assisted suicide between 2003 and 2008, provided by three right-to-die organisations. 
In 84 per cent of cases, the death certificates listed at least one underlying cause of death.  
In the age group, 25-64 years the majority had cancer (57 per cent), followed by diseases of the nervous system (21 per cent).  
Eleven people had a mood disorder listed as the first underlying cause, and three had another mental or behavioural disorder.


Euthanasia of newborns under the microscope

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Mercatornet 4 March 2014
Euthanasia is defined as the act of intentionally ending the life of a terminally ill and suffering person in a quick and painless manner for reasons of compassion and mercy.
Euthanasia was practiced by the ancients. The term means “good death,” and the practice was to allow the patient to die in peace and with dignity. For the physician, it would mean caring for the patient and alleviating pain and suffering. However, the physician of ancient times could also cause the death of the patient. One physician would heal; another would provide the poison draught to cause the death of the patient.
The Oath of Hippocrates (ca. 500 BC) was the first attempt from a group of concerned physicians to establish a set of ethical principles that defined the physician as healer, rejecting the role of executioner. The principle of “primum non nocere,” first do no harm, from where the modern concepts of beneficence and non-maleficence are derived, became one of the guidelines in the doctor-patient relationship.(1,2)
The current concept of euthanasia is based on the utilitarian worldview; the main principle is individual autonomy. The value of the individual is defined in terms of quality of life and contribution to society. Voluntary euthanasia is euthanasia provided for a competent person with his informed consent. Involuntary euthanasia is euthanasia performed without the person’s consent.