As a bioethicist I am concerned about the individual patient’s care. I have had at least two consultations in which family members attempted to manipulate the patient’s care for their own personal financial gain by hastening the death of their ‘loved one’. On hearing that I could not support the request being made, one family member pounded the table and shouted, “Look I want him dead.” I fear that the same thing will happen with assisted suicide.
I am also particularly concerned about those at increased risk for suicide. Two psychologists separately stated that they had patients for whom Act 39 diminished the stigma that suicide previously had. One of the patients stated, “I guess with assisted suicide being legal now, it isn’t as bad as it used to be.” The other patient also construed Act 39 to have made suicide more acceptable.
Pete Gummere, M.S., M.A., Bioethicist, St. Johnsbury, VT