SUICIDE

FINAL EXIT This book on how to commit suicide has gotten a lot of press. The questions are "do people have the right to choose the time, place and method of their own death? Can information be made to those with fatal illnesses without encouraging people suffering from depression .... to kill themselves." (SF Chronicle, 8/30/91) Further comments from 9/16/91- suicide rates increased 21% (to about 37,000) between 1980 and 1986 for Americans over 65. White men had the highest rate at 45.6 per 100,000, white women at 7.5, black men at 16.2 and an insignificant amount for black women. Causes range from increased social isolation to chronic illnesses caused by living longer

ASSISTED SUICIDE: (Protocols) 1995 "Assistance with suicide is one of the most profound and meaningful requests a patient can make of a physician. If the patient and the physician agree that there are no acceptable alternatives and that all the required conditions have been met, the lethal medication should ideally be taken in the physicians presence." However of the commentary offered, the following was particularly noted. " It is of the utmost importance not to abandon the patient at this critical moment. We must make sure that any policies or laws enacted to allow assisted suicide do not require that he patient be left alone at the moment of death in order for the assisters to be safe from prosecution". Some people say that this is wrong and that in any case, suffering may be alleviated by drugs. But the doctor/author of the article said that there is "no empirical evidence that all physical suffering associated with illness can be effectively relieved." Lastly, and in my opinion the most important aspect, the issue is not necessarily dying in pain but in an "undignified, unaesthetic, absurd, and existentially unacceptable conditions." As the authors final statement, terminally ill patients who do choose to take their lives often die alone so as not to place their families or care givers in legal jeopardy.

DR. DEATH: 1996 Jack Kevorkian, the doctor involved with physician assisted suicide, was recently joined by several other doctors in issuing proposed guidelines for patients who would use such services. I think they are worth noting- if for the simply reason that I would have no compunction to terminating my life if I found it did not meet the standards I had set for continuing my life. After all, I would not allow my cat to die a prolonged, pain filled and degrading death. I figure I should be treated with the same respect and dignity.

ELDERLY SUICIDE 1996: Though suicide for the elderly dropped for four decades, it climbed about 9% between 1980 and 1992. Those over 65 make up about 13% of the nation's population but account for 20% of its suicides. Some might think part of the increase is due to acceptance of suicide through the right to die initiatives, living wills, the publications of Last Exit in 1991 and the press of Dr. Kervorkian. Not really. The bulk of the increase is due to the increasing and insidious depression among elderly white men. Depression kills.

SUICIDE: Clinical depression is now considered to be the 4th leading cause of death in the world. Rates are higher among the elderly and about 12 times higher among men than women. These are rates of suicide for men 75 and older per 100,000 people in European countries compared to men of all ages. 1989- 1991 data
Country All Ages Over 75
Hungary 58 186.2
France 30 114
Belgium 30 98
Switzerland 34 80.7
Denmark 30 72.9
Spain 12 43.5
Britain 12 21.5
United States 20.4 41.1 (older than 65)

SUICIDE: 1997 Every half hour, another elderly person in the U.S. commits suicide. One in five suicides is an elderly person and this rate has risen 9% since 1980. One third are married, and one half are living with other household members. The majority are white males. Two thirds are in relatively good physical condition, have an active social life and recently saw doctors. This surprised me in that I would have expected more to be semi recluse. However, the study went on to say that what they almost all had in common was severe depression- even if only temporary. If you have never had depression, count yourself extremely fortunate. However, if you are getting older, recognize you are apt to get it so the best defense is to READ about it as much as you can and try to analyze your own situation. GET HELP if you think there is any problem at all. There should NOT be any stigma to recognizing that your "brain is not "happy" and simply may need a little TLC or medication boost to make it feel better.

ASSISTED SUICIDE: (1998) My father died last year a hard death. Pain, mess, lack of dignity- all of the problems. In a recent survey, 66% of consumers felt that doctors should allow those that are terminally ill to die with dignity. Most interestingly, the higher the income, the greater the percentage. Those above age 65 are less likely to support the view.

80% said that doctors should be allowed to withdraw life support. Only 52% said that doctors should not be allowed to provide patients the means to end their own life while 44% said the doctors should be able to administer the lethal medications.

ASSISTED SUICIDE: (1998) In a recent survey, 69% to 28% indicated that they backed the right of a terminally ill patient to get help from a physician to end their life. 72% said they opposed proposed federal legislation that would deny a doctor from prescribing barbiturates. If you have read other areas of this site, you know that I am a staunch proponent of the Right to Die as long as the individual is clear headed and not depressed. I would consider it in a heartbeat (or lack thereof if you want to be tacky.) Further, if I knew I had Alzheimer's- and even though I was not terminally ill within 6 months- I would also take my life. In Dr. Richard Nuland's best selling book, How We Die, he made it very clear there are two ways you do NOT want to die": AIDS and Alzheimer's.

SUICIDE: (1999)  Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death in the United States, claiming about 30,000 lives in 1997, compared with fewer than 19,000 homicides.

Suicides by Age Group
Age Percent
5- 19 7
20- 34 27
35- 49 31
50- 64 16
64+ 19

Firearms, the choice for suicides- are used in 59% of self inflicted deaths

Since 1980, the suicide rates among children age 10 to 14 doubled.

The suicide rate for blacks doubled between 1980 and 1996.

ASSISTED SUICIDE: (1999) Another study about of physician assisted suicide indicated that "6% of doctors admit they have helped patients die with lethal injections or prescription drugs." Most of these doctors had ended a life only once or twice. However, 18% said that they had received a request for suicide assistance."

SUICIDE: (1999) According to the American Association of Suicidology, while the average rate of suicide has not changed in the last 35 years, it has tripled for those aged 15 to 24. The 1996 rate for 15- 24 year olds reached about the same level of those over age 65. Nearly 7 times more young men kill themselves as women.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 120 Wall Street, 22nd Floor, New York, New York 10005, 888-333-AFSP, 212-363-3500

Assisted Suicide:  (2001) The number of terminally ill patients in Oregon opting for physician-assisted suicide in 2000 "remained small," according to the third annual report on the state's physician-assisted suicide law, which was enacted in 1997. the state's physicians wrote 39 prescriptions for lethal doses of medication, compared to 24 in 1998 and 33 in 1999. Of the 39 patients in 2000, 26 died after taking the medication, eight died from their disease and 5 were still living by the end of last year.

S.A.F.E Alternatives, Linden Oaks Hospital, 852 West ST., Naperville, IL 60540 and enclose a self addressed stamped envelope for info on coping with potential suicide and self injury. 

Suicide: (NY Times 2003) assisted suicide and other ways for terminally ill patients to end their lives, doctors note that one option is always legal: a sane, alert person can simply refuse to eat or drink.

It is an option rarely taken, but now the first survey of nurses whose patients took it has contradicted the popular assumption that such a death is painful and gruesome. Almost all the 102 Oregon nurses surveyed said their patients who refused water and food had died "good deaths," with little pain or suffering, generally within two weeks.

For 85 percent of the patients, death came within 15 days.

About 3,200 patients die by euthanasia in the Netherlands each year; 80 percent of them have terminal cancer. The study of trends in the practice found that the number shot up quickly from 1,600 in 1979, when the practice was new, to 4,000 by 1985, but then grew only slowly.

Reflecting a similar trend in the United States, the number of patients who cited intolerable pain as their chief reason for wanting to die dropped by half.

Over the last 20 years, pain management has made major advances, including freer use of opiates and the machines that allow patients to dose themselves with morphine.

Why active euthanasia and physician assisted suicide should be legalised , Lesley Doyal, professor of health and social care. University of Bristol, School for Policy Studies, Bristol BS8 1T2

Young suicide: (CDC 2004) Hanging and other forms of suffocation have overtaken guns as the chief means of suicide among American youngsters 10 to 14 years old.

In 1992, there were 96 suicides by suffocation among Americans 10 to 14 years old. That rose to 163 in 2001. Firearm suicides dropped from 172 to 90 during the same period.

Suffocation suicides also rose among teens ages 15 to 19 during the same period (from 333 deaths a year to 551). Firearms remain the most common means of suicide for that group, though the number of deaths from self-inflicted shootings dropped from 1,251 a year to 838.

Overall, the suicide rate for those ages 10 to 19 fell by about a quarter, from 6.2 deaths per 100,000 people in 1992 to 4.6 per 100,000 in 2001,

Elderly people are at greater risk of suicide: Elderly people have a higher risk of completed suicide than other age groups, and prevention and management should focus more on this group of people. In a review, O'Connell and colleagues explain how psychiatric illnesses (most notably depression), certain personality traits, and neurological illnesses and malignancies are associated with a high risk of suicide. Social isolation and being divorced, widowed, or single also increase the risk. People who have attempted suicide are at higher risk of subsequently being successful.

Older suicide: ( “Analysis of the Causes of Death of the Aged 2005,) the National Statistical Office (NSO) of the Republic of Korea has reported that the suicide rate for the country’s older population has increased more than five-times over  the past 20 years. Suicides by those aged 65 and over resulted in 72.5 deaths for every 100,000 older persons in 2003, up from 14.3 in 1983. Elderly South Korean men are 1.5 times more likely to commit suicide than women. It is commonly believed that the fast pace of social change coupled with difficult economic conditions has contributed to the increase of suicides. As household size changes, older people are are less supported by their children than in an extended family.