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 March 26, 2024

Oregon performed new high of 367 doctor-assisted suicides in 2023

Assisted suicides in Oregon surged by 20 percent to 367 deaths last year, according to the state's annual report on its Death with Dignity Act, released this month.

The report revealed that 560 people received prescriptions for lethal medications in 2023, with 367 individuals ingesting the drugs and subsequently dying, marking significant increases from the previous year.

The increased numbers

The rise in assisted suicides was attributed by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to recent amendments in state law, permitting individuals from other states to travel to Oregon and request lethal drugs—a practice referred to as "death tourism."

OHA officials highlighted that at least 23 non-residents availed themselves of this option last year, although the actual number may be higher due to potential underreporting.

Most individuals who opted for assisted suicide in Oregon were elderly and white, with 82 percent aged 65 and above. Cancer was the leading underlying condition among recipients (66 percent), followed by brain disease (11 percent) and heart disease (10 percent).

The reasons

The decision to pursue assisted suicide was predominantly driven by concerns related to loss of autonomy (92 percent), diminished quality of life (88 percent), loss of dignity (64 percent), and loss of bodily control (47 percent).

In addition, 43 percent expressed apprehension about becoming a burden on loved ones, while 8 percent cited the financial strain of treatment as a factor.

While the majority of patients died shortly after ingesting the lethal drugs, some encountered complications, such as vomiting or throat irritation.

One patient endured a prolonged dying process, taking nearly six days to succumb after ingesting the drugs, according to the report by the Daily Mail.

Critics express concern

Critics of the Death with Dignity Act have raised concerns about the safety and ethical implications of assisted suicide.

The release of the report coincides with ongoing debates in various U.S. states, including Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Tennessee, and Virginia, over proposals to legalize doctor-assisted suicide.

Oregon became the first state to permit physician-assisted suicide in 1997, allowing terminally ill individuals with less than six months to live to request lethal prescriptions.

The state expanded its law in 2023 to allow non-residents to travel to Oregon for the same purpose, subject to certain requirements, including a 15-day residency period for processing paperwork and physician approvals.

Written By:
Dillon Burroughs

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