By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
For several years the Oregon suicide statistics seemed to indicate that legalizing assisted suicide had a suicide contagion effect.
The assisted suicide lobby argue that legalizing assisted suicide prevents desperate people from dying by suicide and they argue that legalizing assisted suicide enables people to live longer because they do not need to die earlier by suicide in order to be capable of causing their own death. The second argument was wrongly accepted by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Carter decision.
The data is clear. A study published by the Southern Medical Association (October 2015) concludes:
Legalizing PAS has been associated with an increased rate of total suicides relative to other states and no decrease in nonassisted suicides. This suggests either that PAS does not inhibit (nor acts as an alternative to) nonassisted suicide, or that it acts in this way in some individuals but is associated with an increased inclination to suicide in other individuals.
The study examined the suicide rates in Oregon, Washington State, Montana and Vermont, where assisted suicide is permitted.