Suicide hero Kevorkian dies at 83


At the age of 83, after helping at least 130 people to commit suicide, medical pathologist Jack Kevorkian, has passed away in a hospital bed in Michigan. Mr – his licence to practice medicine was revoked in 1991 – Kevorkian was a lightning rod for the assisted suicide debate in the US for decades. He was prosecuted unsuccessfully four times for complicity in the deaths of his “patients”. Finally, in 1999, a Michigan jury found him guilty of the second-degree murder of a man with Lou Gehrig’s disease.

He sent a tape of the incident to CBS. The judge was not impressed: “You had the audacity to go on national television, show the world what you did and dare the legal system to stop you,” said Judge Jessica R. Cooper. “Well, sir, consider yourself stopped.”

Kevorkian was sentenced to 10 to 25 years in jail, but was released on parole in 2007 after promising not to participate in any more suicides.

For Kevorkian, suicide was a crusade which he conducted with withering contempt for the “hypocritical oafs” who criticised him. “My ultimate aim is to make euthanasia a positive experience,” he told the New York Times in 1990. “I’m trying to knock the medical profession into accepting its responsibilities, and those responsibilities include assisting their patients with death.”

The media called him “Doctor Death”, a title he seemed to relish. To some he was a hero. Australia’s leading euthanasia activist, Dr Philip Nitschke – who has also been dubbed “Doctor Death” – told ABC News, “His shoes will be extremely hard to fill… He started at a time when it was hardly talked about and got people thinking about the issue. He paid one hell of a price, and that is one of the hallmarks of true heroism." ~ New York Times, June 3

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