Data from the state of Oregon in the United States has revealed more people ended their lives by assisted suicide and euthanasia in 2022 than in any other year.
The latest annual assisted suicide report ‘Oregon Death with Dignity Act: 2022 Data Summary’ released earlier this month has revealed a total of 278 people ended their lives by assisted suicide in 2022 in Oregon. This figure represents a 17% increase in deaths by assisted suicide from 238 in the previous year.
Among the end-of-life concerns listed by those who ended their lives, 88.8% said they were concerned about reduced ability “to engage in activities making life enjoyable” and 86.3% mentioned concerns about “losing autonomy”.
Almost half (46.4%) of those who ended their lives reported being concerned about being a “[b]urden on family, friends/caregivers”, and 6.1% said they were concerned about the “[f]inancial implications of treatment”.
Only three psychiatric evaluations
The report further reveals that only “[t]hree patients were referred for psychological or psychiatric evaluation”. In cases where the data was available, people who ended their lives by assisted suicide took anywhere between 3 minutes and 68 hours to die after ingesting the suicide drug.
In 206 cases out of the total 278, there is no information available about complications that might have arisen after ingesting the lethal drugs. Such information is only recorded if a medical professional is present at the time of death.
Executive director of Oregon Right to Life, Lois Anderson, said “The physicians providing these deadly prescriptions hardly know their patients and are often abandoning them in the last moments of their lives.”
“That’s not care. That’s churning people through the ‘Death with Dignity’ machine.”
There have been a total of 2,454 cases of people ending their lives by assisted suicide in Oregon since 1998.
Euthanasia in Canada
The increase in the number of people ending their lives by assisted suicide follows a similar trend in Canada where, in 2021, the number of people who ended their lives by assisted suicide and euthanasia increased by over 32% from the previous year, accounting for 3.3% of all deaths in Canada.
According to the latest report on Medical Assistance in Dying from Health Canada, 10,064 Canadians ended their lives by assisted suicide or euthanasia in 2021. This figure represents 3.3% of all deaths in Canada and is an increase of 32.4% from the 2020 figures.
A total of 31,664 people have ended their lives by assisted suicide or euthanasia in Canada since legislation making it legal was passed in 2016.
In Canada, 1 in 5 cite loneliness as a reason to want to die
The Canadian report states that 86.3% gave the loss of the ability to engage in meaningful activities as among the main reasons for wanting to end their life. Additionally, 83.4% said the loss of the ability to perform activities of daily living was a reason for wanting to end their lives.
17.3% of people also cited “isolation or loneliness” as a reason for wanting to die. In 35.7% of cases, patients believed that they were a “burden on family, friends or caregivers”.
Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said “The most shocking aspect of the data from Oregon is that the end-of-life concerns for those who ended their lives by assisted suicide are not medical. Autonomy, dignity and activities that make life enjoyable are all issues that are not treated by death. Sadly, nearly half report concerns about being a burden on family and friends. The focus must be on palliative care and not on helping these vulnerable adults to end their lives.”