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Assisted suicide has led to higher suicide rate in Oregon

Assisted suicide has led to higher suicide rate in Oregon

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I am a doctor in Oregon, where we have legal physician-assisted suicide. I write in support of Sen. Greg Hinkle’s quoted comments about suicide prevention and elder abuse. See editorial, “365 Days of Debate,” Jan. 2. I also provide some statistics from Oregon.

First, Oregon’s high suicide rate. In September 2010, the Oregon Health Authority released statistics that our suicide rate, which excludes suicide under our assisted suicide act, is 35 percent higher than the national average. www.oregon.gov/DHS/news/2010news/2010-0909a.pdf. This rate has been “increasing significantly since 2000.” Just three years prior, in 1997, we legalized assisted suicide. There is at least a statistical correlation between these two events.

Second, the number of persons dying under our assisted suicide law has been steadily increasing. See www.oregon.gov/DHS/ph/pas/docs/year12.pdf.

Third, and yet another distinction for Oregon, we now rank dead last in paid ombudsmen who advocate for the elderly. Just this Friday, the Oregonian newspaper reported that we rank 52nd “in the number of paid ombudsman who investigate and resolve complaints for people in long term care.” www.oregonlive.com/health/index.ssf/2010/12/oregon_ranks_last_in_number_of.html.

These statistics are but part of the picture that Oregon is not the best place to be vulnerable, sick or old. Don’t follow Oregon’s lead. Keep assisted suicide out of Montana.

Kenneth Stevens,

Sherwood, Ore.

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