December 4, 2022

70 assisted suicides in Washington state in 2011

The number of Washington state residents who died of physician-assisted suicide rose to 70 last year, up from 51 in 2010 and 36 in 2009, when the state’s Death With Dignity Act took effect. The numbers are small, but the increase each year has been about 40% on the previous year.

The number of Washington state residents who died of physician-assisted suicide rose to 70 last year, up from 51 in 2010 and 36 in 2009, when the state’s Death With Dignity Act took effect. The numbers are small, but the increase each year has been about 40% on the previous year. 

According to a government report released this month, 103 patients requested and received lethal doses of medications from 80 different physicians in 2011. Of these, 70 died after taking the medication. Another 5 died, but may not have taken the medication. 

The statistics suggest that image of patients slumping almost immediately into unconsciousness and death after taking a lethal barbiturate is not true in all cases. Of the 70, at least 7 took 11 minutes or more before lapsing into unconsciousness. One or more took 2 hours. About 20% took an hour and a half to die, but one or more took 13 hours. 

A psychiatric or psychological evaluation is not required under the law and only 5% had one. Most of the patients said that loss of autonomy, dignity and ability to participate in activities that make life enjoyable were the reasons for choosing to end their lives. Only about 38% worried about inadequate pain control.  More than 90% were white, and 75% had at least some college education. Nearly 80% of the patients had cancer. ~ amednews.com, May 14 

Michael Cook
Creative commons
assisted suicide
Washington