Assisted suicides in Washington state up by 43%

Legal assisted suicide deaths in Washington state rose by 43% in 2013, according to an official report. Under the state’s 2008 Death with Dignity Act, adult residents in the state with six months or less to live may request lethal doses of medication from physicians.

In 2013, medication was dispensed to 173 individuals of whom 159 are known to have died, 119 of them, after ingesting the medication. (Sometimes people keep the medication without using it.) The cause of death of another 14 is unknown. The lethal prescriptions were written by 89 different physicians and dispensed by 23 different pharmacists.

Of the 151 participants in 2013 who died, 97% were white and non-Hispanic; 525 were married; and 76% had at least some college education.

Most requests for a lethal prescription were motivated by fear of losing autonomy, dignity or the ability to participate in activities that made life enjoyable. Pain was not mentioned as an issue in the official report. 

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