Washington State annual report: Assisted suicide deaths continue to rise

Alex Schadenberg

Alex Schadenberg

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

In 2014, 126 people reportedly died by assisted suicide in Washington State. This is up by 6% from 119 assisted suicide deaths in 2013, a 43% increase from 83 assisted suicide deaths in 2012.

According to the annual report, there were 176 lethal prescriptions written resulting in 126 assisted suicide deaths, 17 deaths from other causes, 27 deaths from an unknown cause and 6 people remain alive.

The annual report states that they do not know whether or not the 27 deaths from "unknown causes" resulted from assisted suicide.

In the Netherlands up to 23% of the assisted deaths are not reported. In Belgium the percentage of unreported assisted deaths is even higher

Thus, it would not be surprising if 20% of the assisted suicide deaths in Washington State are not reported.

A broader number of illnesses are leading to assisted suicide. The Washington State report indicated that assisted deaths from other illnesses tripled. The report did not list what other illnesses represented but in Oregon other illnesses includes diabetes.

The "safeguard" restricting lethal drugs to people who are terminally ill (within six months of death) may not be closely followed. The annual report states that: 1 person in 2009, 1 person in 2010, 1 person in 2011 and 4 people in 2013 who received lethal drugs may be alive today.

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