Oregon recently released its 23rd annual report on assisted suicide in the state.
Oregon saw a 25% increase in residents requesting lethal prescriptions for assisted suicide under the Death with Dignity Act. In 2020, 370 people received lethal prescriptions. Of that group, 245 people died from ingesting the lethal medication (up from 188 in 2019). That includes 22 patients who used prescriptions for assisted suicide acquired in prior years.
Since the law was passed in 1997, doctors have written 2,895 lethal prescriptions. 1,905 people have committed assisted suicide after ingesting the medications.
“Since its inception, the so-called ‘Death With Dignity’ Act has raised serious concerns, including Oregon’s failures to address mental health concerns,” said Lois Anderson, ORTL executive director. “Out of 370 Oregonians prescribed with life-ending drugs in 2020, only three were referred for psychological or psychiatric help.”
Of the 142 doctors who wrote lethal prescriptions in 2020, around 112 provided one or two prescriptions. However, at least one doctor provided lethal prescriptions for 31 people.
Increasing from last year, 74% of patients were covered by Medicare or Medicaid insurance. This trend raises questions about the quality of care being provided. It also suggests that patients are under financial pressure.
“Oregon is last in the nation when it comes to helping people struggling with their mental health,” continued Anderson. “People end their lives through assisted suicide for three main reasons. Those reasons are all triggers for major depression. Depression is a medical condition that can and should be treated. Suicide is not the answer.”