Rates of assisted suicides rise sharply in Oregon
Thirty eight people committed physician assisted suicide under Oregon's Death with Dignity Act in 2002, accounting for more than 0.1% of all deaths in Oregon last year. This is an 81% rise from the 21 deaths in 2001, and more than twice the number that occurred in 1998, the first year that the law was in place. Thirty three doctors wrote a total of 58 lethal prescriptions last year, according to the fifth annual report on the act.
Most patients using the law had cancer and were likely to be white, male, and well educated. The top reasons cited for wanting to end their lives were losing autonomy (84%), decreasing ability to participate in activities they enjoyed (84%), and losing control of bodily functions (47%).
At present, Oregon is the only US state that permits physician assisted suicide, although bills modelled on its law have been introduced this year in