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Doctor-Assisted Suicide

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Doctor-Assisted Suicide

Suicide is the act or instance of taking one's own life voluntarily and intentionally especially if that person is of sound mind. Euthanasia is the act or practice of killing individuals who are hopelessly sick or injured for reasons of mercy. Doctor-assisted suicide is a term used to describe the act of a doctor or physician providing direct or indirect means of assisting someone in taking their own life. There are 2 types of euthanasia. Passive euthanasia is withholding life-sustaining treatment either before or after it has been initiated. Active euthanasia is "taking steps to end your life, as in suicide, handling the action yourself" (Humphry 20). It is an explicit act such as writing a lethal prescription or a directly injecting a lethal dose. Approximately 30,000 Americans kill themselves every year. This means that the rate of suicide is about 11.0 per 100,000 people. This rate is just the average, and it varies greatly among sexes and races. The suicide rate for males is 19.8, but the rate for females is 3.8. This difference in rates appears deceptive because females are 3 times more likely to attempt suicide than males. Males are just more effective in their methods. White Americans have a higher rate of suicide than any other ethnic group. It is believed that homosexuals have a much greater rate than heterosexuals, but this is difficult to research because many homosexuals hide their sexual orientation from fear of persecution. The terminally ill are most closely associated with the doctor-assisted suicide issue. Many in this group argue that once all medical care has failed, then one has the right to hasten death to avoid pain and suffering. If a person is going to inevitably die from a painful disease, then that person should have the right to decide when, where, and how death comes.

There are many ways for one to commit suicide. The 2 major types are self-inflicted and assisted. Despite the popular issue of legalizing doctor-assisted suicide, most suicides remain self-inflicted. Zeinert describes the statistics:

According to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the majority of those who commit suicide do so by shooting themselves. In fact, the latest statistics available from the NCHS show that 59 percent of all suicides were committed ...

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American Civil Liberties Union News 26 June 1997. 30 Oct. 2001 <http://www.aclu.org/news/n062697g.html>.

Humphry, Derek. Final Exit: The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance and Assisted Suicide for the Dying. Eugene: The Hemlock Society, 1991.

Katz, Stephen R. "Doctor Assisted Suicide-a Bad Oxymoron and a Bad

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Zeinert, Karen. Suicide: Tragic Choice. Berkeley Heights: Enslow

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