Doctors can’t predict time of death, so how can they aid in suicide

Dr. Neil S. Kaye is a practicing psychiatrist and Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and member of the advisory board of the  National Alliance for Mental Illness-Delaware.

…Physicians are terrible at predicting death. At six months out, fewer than 33% of predictions end up being correct. HB 140, the medical aid in dying bill, relies on the physician informing patients of their life expectancy.

If we can’t do that with even a 50% accuracy, how can we be asked to help them decide to commit suicide instead of seeking additional treatment or palliative care?

The myth that physicians can provide a speedy and pain-free death needs to be confronted with the reality of the evidence. Nothing in our training teaches us how to help people kill themselves. There are no courses in medical school, no CME’s, no conference lectures, no journals and no controlled experiments to guide us.

We are trained to heal, not to harm, and certainly not to kill. The American “experiment” with physician-assisted suicide, begun in Oregon, and wrongly adopted by a minority of other states, shows that the average time to death is 2 hours, but has been as long as 140 hours.

Data says 10% of these people vomit up the drugs they took, 2% awaken from their comas, and 33% took 30 hours to die. In addition, 25% were depressed, yet only 2% were ever referred for psychiatric treatment.

And, there is a “contagion effect.” Oregon’s overall suicide rate is now 40% above the US average. “Normalizing” suicide is not a message this legislature should send to the teenagers of our great state.

Read more at Delawareonline.com…

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