Assisted Suicide Essay Examples

Essays on Assisted Suicide

A major ethical topic, controversial in different regions of the world, is physician assisted suicide. Many argue that all life is important and valuable regardless of the cost or personal feelings. Others argue that it is a decision that should be kept between the patient and the primary physician. Regardless of society’s opinion, many important questions regarding the patient’s rights, nursing approach, and scope of health care practitioners are left up for debate.

The Law on Physician Assisted Suicide
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Introduction Since the implementation of The Suicide Act 1961, it has been a subject of controversy and debate, as to whether physician-assisted suicide (PAS) should be permitted in the UK. The National Health Service (NHS} website states - ‘Assisted suicide is the act of deliberately assisting or encouraging another person to kill themselves’ and according to Section 2 of the Suicide Act 1961, Doctors will be liable for conviction if they encourage or intend to encourage the suicide of another…...
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Why Physicians are Reluctant to Remove Patient’s Life Support Systems?
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Physician-assisted Suicide (PSD) or others call it euthanasia has been an issue of considerable debates for many years. It puts into question the rights of physicians and medical professionals to perform assisted deaths to patients whose conditions are in grave pain. Many medical professionals differentiate euthanasia from physician-assisted suicide because of some practices that would distinguish it from euthanasia. Some argued that the practice of physician-assisted suicide is ethical, justified by informed consent and informed refusal on the part of…...
Assisted SuicideLifeMedical ethics
Letter to Editor- Assisted Suicide
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Altercations on whether or not assisted suicide should be legalized have rang out through the world and this topic has become one of the most popular questions of today. Ben Mattlin had written a cordial article ‘Suicide by Choice? Not so Fast’ elucidating his stance to assisted suicide. As a terminally ill patient himself, he disapproves of the Death with Dignity law, and I agree with Ben Mattlin that there is haste to assisted suicide, and thus I want to…...
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Euthanasia: The right to decide
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The decision to live or die in the context of euthanasia is extremely delicate, complex and controversial. Debates about the ethics of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide were present even in Ancient Greece and Rome. The word euthanasia itself has a Greek etymology meaning "an easy or happy death," (from eu- "good" + thanatos "death" meaning good death) (definition taken from Online Etymology Dictionary). Euthanasia is the act of deliberately inflicting death on a person suffering from an incurable disease by…...
Assisted SuicideEuthanasiaRights
Euthanasia is a Murder, not a Mercy
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Around 130,000 people were euthanized each year at the Liverpool Care Pathway for the Dying Patient. Although people argue that they should be able to die when they want, euthanasia should not be an option, because it is cruel, unjust, and is unfair to others, including the patient. My first reason that euthanasia should not be an option is that it is cruel. Some family members would resort to killing the patients themselves if euthanasia was not permitted. Family members…...
Assisted SuicideEuthanasia Should Not Be LegalisedMercy killing
Physician Assisted Suicide or Mercy Killing
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As humans, we all try to hold onto our lives as long as we can, but at the same time, a life-span is also finite for humans. Medicines and new medical technologies can prolong death but it can also put someone through a world of hurt for who knows how long. Some may view this topic as murder, and others may view it as helping someone from the suffrage of a terminal illness that the new medical technologies or medicines…...
Assisted SuicideEuthanasiaMercy killing
The Decision: Life or Death
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Many people are oblivious to the taboo topic of assisted suicide. Unless you have had a personal experience with this situation you may not even be inclined to look further into the topic. Due to so many diverse religious preferences, plenty of people may be opposed to it and plenty of people may agree with it. The decision to end a patient's life with the assistance of a physician should remain a patient’s choice and not a decision of the…...
Assisted SuicideDeath
Death with Dignity: Assisted Suicide is Personal Choice
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Imagine living in a calm and peaceful home, surrounded by your children and grandchildren. But then one day, you are diagnosed with brain cancer. Immediately, doctors frantically begin doing whatever they can to treat it, but it is of no use—you are terminally ill and have six months left to live. Suddenly everything you once had is ripped from you forever— your health, your happiness, and even your mental state. Yet, the doctors are still doing everything they can to…...
Assisted SuicideDeath
Physician Assisted Suicide: The Right to Die With Dignity 
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Life is precious. You get one opportunity and countless amounts of people take it for granted. What we as humans don’t consider is, pain and suffering does not discriminate. Unfortunately, we all will experience some sort of pain whether its physical or emotional. No matter if it's bearable or agonizing, it's inescapable. Suffering can sometimes make you blind to everything in your life that makes it worth living and for some, committing suicide seems like the only option you have…...
Assisted SuicideDeath
Assisted Suicide Ethical Dilemma 
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The topic of Assisted suicide has many different types of viewpoints and ethical questions. Some agree with the decision of ending one's life under certain circumstances with the help of a physician and others disagree and would say it's an unethical act. There are two different kinds of definitions when describing assisted suicide. Euthanasia is when the administration of the lethal medication is done by someone other than the patients, usually the physician, and results in ending their life (Harris,…...
Assisted SuicideSuicide
Explore Teen Suicide in The United States
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In 1990 the adolescent suicide rate was 19.22 per 100,000 in the United States. Suicide was the 8th leading cause of death(Lee et al.). 11 percent of adolescents ages 12- 19 took their own life (Miniño, M.P.H.). Two years later suicide became the fifth leading cause of death for young people 25 and under. The C.D.C released data showing a dramatic increase in teen suicide rates. Nearly doubling from 1980, the suicide rate for young people adolescents ages 10 to…...
Assisted SuicideDiseaseExploreStateSuicide
Euthanasia should be legalized in the UK
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Throughout the investigation I am going to answer a hypothesis to do with Euthanasia based on my collection of primary and secondary information. A moral issue is a difference or conflict of opinion over a difference in beliefs, which usually involve a specific kind of experience1, i.e., an act which affect other people. These conflicts usually happen between religions, political parties, and countries, the holders of these beliefs are usually willing to act upon these beliefs. Moral issues are very…...
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Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide
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When a doctor or physician assists or suggest euthanasia to his patient, it sends a perilous message to society or public that dying solves life’s problems to someone who is suffering from an illness whether it is mentally or physically ranging from less or curable illness to terminal or life threatening illness. There’s always a probability that a doctor’s diagnosis/assumption could be wrong as a doctor himself is not perfect and can make mistakes. What if the doctor makes a…...
Assisted SuicideEthicsEuthanasia
Should assisted suicide be legal?
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Section: Research Topic Should assisted suicide be legal? Thesis This essay will argue that assisting suicide and euthanasia should not be legalized as it is a legal way of murder in order to give people hope to find a reason to live and provide a chance for the patients to cure. Legal way of murdering Idea 1 Synonymous with murder Sources Idea 2 Identical motives Idea 1:  KILLING and letting die are frequently taken to differ in that they respectively…...
Assisted SuicideHealthMedicineSuicide
The Death With Dignity Act
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Although the Death with Dignity Act empowers individuals to control the timing of their death, physician assisted suicide still remains a controversial topic in today’s society that raises many ethical questions. These questions include: Who is the true owner of our lives? Should relieving suffering always be the highest priority or does suffering occur for a reason? Is suicide a purely individual choice (Mathes, 2004)?The answers to the above questions are subjective, yet healthcare workers deal with the difficult issues…...
Assisted SuicideDeathOpposing Viewpoints
End of life, euthanasia and assisted suicide
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In the UK today, around three quarters of deaths are ‘predictable’ and follow a periodic trend of chronic illnesses such as cancer or heart diseases. It was found from the survey of general practitioners that 63%of deaths in England involved an ‘end of life decision’ by a medical practitioner. The extent to which people should have control over their death or another’s death is highly controversial. Euthanasia and assisted suicide arouses deep moral beliefs about the value of life that…...
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Christian Perspective on Physician-Assisted Suicide
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Throughout our lifetimes, we are faced with questions that sometimes seem impossible to answer. Everyone is guided by something (or someone) when It comes to making choices both big and small. When it comes to issues of a moral nature, "three-quarters of all Americans claim their religious beliefs are the primary Influence on how they find guidance In their lives. " (O'Mathuna and Amundsen, 1998) What is the Christian perspective on physician-assisted suicide (PAS)? While the topic certainly inspires debate,…...
Assisted SuicideChristianSuicide
Active Voluntary Euthanasia
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Morality refers to moral duties and ideal human character and rules society to promote ethical and virtuous behavior. (Young & Koopsen, 2005). Values have emotional and spiritual power in the motivation of choices (Young &Koopsen, 2005). Ethics is the practice of morality and values in society which may find conflict in certain religions, philosophies, and state laws (Young & Koopsen, 2005). The choice of euthanasia is based on an individual’s religious belief or guiding principle, culture and tradition, the ability…...
Assisted SuicideEuthanasiaPhilosophyReligion
Pros and Cons of Euthanasia
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Is mercy killing humane? Do we have the right to assess whether a life is worth living? Should euthanasia be practiced only in the terminally ill people or for the debilitated and mentally ill too? In this write up, we get into the heart of the matter by looking at the pros and cons of euthanasia. The word euthanasia is derived from the Greek language where 'eu means good' and 'thanasia means death'. Euthanasia also known as mercy killing. It…...
Assisted SuicideEuthanasiaMercy killing
Applying an Ethical Theory on Assisted Death
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Life is a beautiful gift from God, death comes after life. Death is meant to come without notice, There’s a saying “you never know when it’s your time to go “. Should one make a decision to end his or her life, to terminate pain and suffering cause by a severe illness? Physician assisted death is an outgoing dispute throughout the world, many will never come to an agreement on. Philosophers explain many different theories that are used to determine…...
Assisted SuicideDeathEthics
Arguments for and against euthanasia and assisted suicide
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Arguments for and against euthanasia and assisted suicide There are arguments both for and against euthanasia and assisted suicide. Some of the main arguments are outlined below. You should be aware that these arguments do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of NHS Choices or the Department of Health. Arguments for euthanasia and assisted suicide There are two main types of argument used to support the practices of euthanasia and assisted suicide. They are the: ethical argument – that…...
Assisted SuicideEuthanasiaHealth
Euthanasia: A Moral Dilemma
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Euthanasia has grown to be one the biggest debates prevailing in Canada. It draws in the issue of morals, healthcare, and society. Euthanasia and physician assisted suicide provokes many emotions out of Canadian citizens. The ever present “Right to Die” and “Right to Live” groups are constantly trying to impose their strong views on Canadian society. Even with the influence of these protesting groups, the growing debate between euthanasia and whether it should be legalized is an extremely difficult decision.…...
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Ethical Dilemma Concerned with Euthanasia
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One very debatable ethical dilemma in today’s society is euthanasia. Euthanasia, like any other medical treatment should be seen as a choice. As a society, there are obligations to the sick that should be up held, but morally and legally may not be supportable. There are many aspects that go with this choice besides the obligation. There are also stakeholders to consider as well as social values, morals and religious implications. Euthanasia is Greek for good death which translates into…...
Assisted SuicideEthicsEuthanasiaMedical ethicsMercy killingMoral dilemma
Patients Rights
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The legal interests of persons who submit to medical treatment. For many years, common medical practice meant that physicians made decisions for their patients. This paternalistic view has gradually been supplanted by one promoting patient autonomy, whereby patients and doctors share the decision-making responsibility. Consequently doctor-patient relationships are very different now than they were just a few decades ago. However, conflicts still abound as the medical community and those it serves struggle to define their respective roles. Consent Consent, particularly…...
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Assisted Suicide
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If you’re suffering from excruciating pain and there’s no hope you will recover and doctors are keeping you alive for as long as you can take for no reason, would you want them to "pull the plug"? Assisted suicide is mostly legal in 16 countries. In the U.S. assisted suicide is legal in Washington, Oregon, Vermont and Montana does not specifically address physician-assisted suicide but have no laws against it and physicians who practice it are shielded from prosecution. Assisted…...
Assisted SuicideHealth
Should Physician Assisted Suicide be legal?
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When we think about the idea of physician- assisted suicide, we most likely feel as though that the act itself should be considered murder. During 1997, The President at the time Bill Clinton signed into regulations “The assisted suicide funding restriction act”. The regulation omitted the use of federal monies to pay for physician assisted suicide, as well as euthanasia, and also mercy killings in the United States. According to the New England Journal of Medicine Physician assisted suicide is…...
Assisted SuicideBill ClintonMercy killing
Euthanasia
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Thesis: Euthanasia, and a common form of euthanasia, assisted suicide, should be legal processes through which aterminally ill individual may voluntarily end his or her own life. Summary: As of 2009, assisted suicide was legal in only three states: Oregon, Washington, and Montana. Since itsinception in those states, assisted suicide has proven to be an effective, but rarely employed means of allowing a terminallyill person to end his or her life in a dignified manner. Though the United States federal…...
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How PAS Affects Nurses

The author’s main purpose for this paper is to explain how physician assisted suicide (PAS) affects palliative care nurses providing care for quadriplegic patients. The author explains that because of learning barrier’s nurses often do not know how to approach this delicate topic.

Learning barriers include personal beliefs against physician assisted suicide, suicide terminology stigma, and lack of support from major nursing organizations. All nurses come from different backgrounds as explained, but all nurses must be aware of what PAS is and how to educate the patient on the laws surrounding PAS. The author also includes what behaviors can be assessed within patients at risk for depression and suicidal ideation, and how the patient’s chronic disability has affected the patient’s quality of life. Finally, the author elaborates on the nurse’s role in PAS in states that it is illegal and legal.

Physician Assisted Suicide Controversy

A major ethical topic, controversial in different regions of the world, is physician assisted suicide. Many argue that all life is important and valuable regardless of the cost or personal feelings. Others argue that it is a decision that should be kept between the patient and the primary physician. Regardless of society’s opinion, many important questions regarding the patient’s rights, nursing approach, and scope of health care practitioners are left up for debate. One of the biggest concerns being faced every day is the impact that physician assisted suicide (PAS) has on nursing and how to approach the delicate topic.

Palliative care nurses originate from wide demographic backgrounds with various cultural and religious beliefs, ethnic backgrounds, socioeconomic status, and various experience levels. Nurses providing palliative care come from different educational levels. The LPN level is obtained by a 2-year associate degree in nursing or a one-year diploma. The RN level is obtained by a 2-year associates degree in nursing or a 4-year Bachelor of Science in nursing degree. Palliative care nurses take specialized care courses to become certified in palliative care nursing (What is a Palliative Care Nurse?, 2019). Learning barriers for palliative care nurses include personal beliefs against physician assisted suicide, suicide terminology stigma, and lack of support from major nursing organizations (Barriers to Acceptance of Assisted Suicide, 2011). Methodology for presenting information to palliative care nurses will be presented through power-point presentation, open discussion, and an educational quiz to evaluate if learning has occurred.

Death with Dignity Acts

Physician assisted suicide (PAS) is a comfort care option available to end the life of someone suffering unbearable pain that causes the loss of quality of life. According to Nursing Today, several states have passed Death with Dignity acts to legalize physician assisted suicide including California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Vermont, and the District of Columbia (Zerwekh & Zerwekh Garneau, 2015). Each state has specific criteria that must be met for eligibility. According to How Death with Dignity Laws Work, the patient must be a resident of the state, be at least 18 years old, mentally competent, and diagnosed with a terminal illness that will cause death within six months. The patient must be able to administer life ending medication to themselves and two physicians must evaluate the patient. Evaluating the patient consists of the physician assessing the patient’s mental status, if the patient has depression, and if the patient can independently administer one’s medication. Also, the physician must make sure their diagnosis for death is within six months. If any of the eligibility requirements are not met, then the request will be denied without exception.

PAS Steps

Once residency has been established, the next step is to make a formal first oral request to the primary physician to use the death with dignity act medication to end life. The first request serves to allow two physicians to confirm that the patient meets the required criteria and is informed of all alternative treatments, palliative care options including hospice, pain medications available for comfort, and allows time to alert a relative of the choice to use the life ending medication. The patient is then required to make a second oral request, or written request in some states, to use the end of life medication. Once the second request has been made, the physician will provide a prescription for the medication to be filled at a pharmacy. The medication provided is a large dose of a barbiturate in most cases, which comes in powder form and must be administered directly by the patient and no one else. If patient loses the ability to swallow, they will no longer be eligible to use the medication (How Death with Dignity Laws Work, 2015). The first learning barrier associated with palliative care nurses regarding physician assisted suicide is personal beliefs of the nurse. Nurses may have personal beliefs that go against a patient’s decision to use physician assisted suicide. In this presentation, this learning barrier will be acknowledged by educating palliative care nurses on patients’ autonomy and quality of life issues surrounding the decision to use PAS (Zerwekh & Zerwekh Garneau, 2015).

Problems with Suicide

Suicide is a major problem in the United States and is the 10th leading causes of death (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 2019). According to the National Institute of Mental Health, people of all races, ages, genders, and ethnicities can be at risk for committing suicide (Suicide in America). Individuals at risk for suicidal ideation include those with depression, a substance abuse disorder, a history of physical or mental abuse, and someone with a terminal medical illness or chronic disability like quadriplegia. Behaviors that demonstrate suicidal ideation include expressing feelings of emptiness and hopelessness, anxiety and agitation, becoming withdrawn from family and friends, lack of appetite, change in sleeping habits, giving away personal possessions, and expressing thoughts and feelings regarding death (Suicide in America). The second learning barrier associated with palliative care nurses regarding physician assisted suicide is suicide terminology stigma. The term “suicide” causes negative public feelings and adds unnecessary stigma towards physician assisted suicide. These negative feelings could make people feel that they are against PAS because it is against their beliefs, whereas if PAS was called something like “physician aid-in-dying” or “death with dignity” people may view it differently. Currently, organizations are trying to change the terminology by phasing out the term “physician assisted suicide” to seek out different language that would be more acceptable to the public. “Aid-in-dying” is currently the phrase of choice for many assisted suicide activists (Barriers to Acceptance of Assisted Suicide, 2011).

Quality of Life

According to the Centers for Disease Control, quality of life is defined as a multidimensional concept that usually includes subjective evaluations of both positive and negative aspects of life and this definition encompasses domains such as health, employment, financial, educational, spirituality, physical, mental, and emotion (Health-Related Quality of Life, 2018). Quality of life is directly affected by a life debilitating prognosis like quadriplegia. There is a wide range of causes for quadriplegia such as car accidents, sports injuries, or cerebrovascular accidents and most commonly affect males 15 years of age to 35 (Loyola University Health System, 2017). Individuals who have quadriplegia have many physical changes that occur including; inability to move limbs below site of injury, heightened skin sensations, changes in bowel and bladder control, increased risk of infections like pneumonia, pressure ulcers, weight gain due to inactivity, emotional and relational stress, and breathing difficulty due to weakened muscles reducing chest expansion (Avery Biomedical Devices, 2019). The loss of independence and mobility and learning how to cope emotionally cause an altered quality of life for these patients. There are ways to help them attain the best quality of life possible such as learning new ways to cope through mediation or soothing music, building a support system of others that have a similar condition or a support group for quadriplegia, continuing to engage in hobbies and interests, and continuing to engage in relationships with friends and family (Christopher Reeve Foundation, 2019). When speaking of quality of life, it is important to understand that the health of caregivers play a direct role in the health and quality of life in patients. In a study analyzing the quality of life in spinal cord injuries some caregivers reported a higher stress and depression level than the patient (Lude, Kennedy, and Ballert, 2014). Having a strong support system is important in the overall health of a patient.

Nurse’s Role in PAS

The nurse’s role in PAS is a controversial topic currently being debated. The nurse should first examine his/her own personal values and beliefs as it relates to this topic. Afterwards, the nurse should assess each individual patient for depression and suicidal ideation. If a patient is depressed or suicidal, the nurse still has a duty to report and seek the proper assistance for the patient. The nurse should educate the patient about the laws of PAS in the state of North Carolina. A nurse in North Carolina would educate the patient that the law does not support PAS and provide options to patients on other comfort measures available that assist in reducing pain and suffering such as palliative care. In states where PAS is legal, the nurse should be educated on legal options within his/her state to provide objective data to the patient and their family. Nurses in states where PAS is legal need to make sure all channels of communication are open. For instance, families and providers need to be empathetic about the patient’s choices and the right to end life prolonging care and patients should not feel judgement from family or providers about their health care choices. Educating the patient on the laws of PAS and the requirements the patient must meet to be considered for PAS is a necessity for nurses in states where PAS is legal. There are benefits and drawbacks for using PAS and patients should be educated on those things. Patients should be fully aware of what PAS is and the methods used to aide in dying. There are alternative resources available to assist patients which includes comfort care, caregiver support, and support groups. Assessing what the patient needs and what education to provide for the patient is the biggest role of a nurse no matter what state one is in.

Another barrier palliative care nurses may be faced with is lack of support from major medical associations. The American Nurses Association (ANA) prohibits the participation from nurses in PAS. They state it is contradictory to “The Right to Self-Determination” which states that “nurses may not act with the sole intent to end life”. (American Nurses Association, 2015). The American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine remains neutral on the topic. The Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association also advises that nurses not participate in PAS (Hamric, A. B., Schwarz, J. K., Cohen, L., Mahon, M., 2018). Due to the lack of support from major medical associations, nurses are unclear about what their role is in care for patients seeking PAS. It is important for nurses to remember that even in areas where PAS is illegal, they still have a duty to advocate for the needs of their patients. If the nurse is practicing in a state where PAS is legal, the nurse should provide the proper education and resources to the patient in a judgement free manner.

Conclusion

In conclusion, physician assisted suicide is a highly debated topic especially in cases of patients with paralysis. Learning barriers including personal beliefs against physician assisted suicide, suicide terminology stigma, and lack of support from major nursing organizations are only a few reasons why health care providers, mainly nurses, often have a hard time approaching PAS. Currently, there are no states in the United States that allow patients with any form of paralysis to participate in PAS. Health care professionals must know one’s own feelings, values, laws within their state, and take into consideration the patients’ feelings and autonomy. Health care providers participating in helping patients end their life is extremely controversial, but in a health care environment when patient autonomy is highly valued should we reconsider? There are several countries around the world that are attempting to answer that question, and as healthcare providers we must be open to advocate for the needs of our patients.

References

  1. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. (2019). Suicide Statistics. Retrieved from American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: http://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/
  2. Avery Biomedical Devices. (2019). What You Should Know About Quadriplegia. Retrieved from Avery Biomedical Devices: www.averybiomedical.com/what-you-should-know-quadriplegia/
  3. Barriers to Acceptance of Assisted Suicide. (2011). Retrieved from Life Resources Charitable Trust: http://www.life.org.nz/euthanasia/abouteuthanasia/abouteuthanasia1/Default.htm
  4. Christopher Reeve Foundation. (2019). Resources for Caregivers. Retrieved from Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation: Christopherreeve.org/living-with-paralysis/for-caregivers/tips-and-resources-for-caregivers
  5. How Death with Dignity Laws Work. (2015). Retrieved February 15, 2019, from DeathwithDignity.org: http://www.Deathwithdignity.org/learn/access/
  6. Last Name, F. M. (Year). Article Title. Journal Title, Pages From – To.
  7. Last Name, F. M. (Year). Book Title. City Name: Publisher Name.
  8. Loyola University Health System. (2017, February 16). Spinal cord injury patients face many health problems besides paralysis. Retrieved from Science Daily: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170216103931.htm
  9. What is a Palliative Care Nurse? (2019). Retrieved February 18, 2019, from Registerednurses.org: https://www.registerednursing.org/specialty/palliative-care-nurse/
  10. Zerwekh, J., & Zerwekh Garneau, A. (2015). Nursing Today Transitions and Trends. St. Louis: Elsevier.

FAQ about Assisted Suicide

Why Physicians are Reluctant to Remove Patient’s Life Support Systems?
...The same is true with physician-assisted suicide even if the physician is not the one directly administering the method that can cause death to the patient. All life is irreplaceable. A physician’s role is to restore the health condition of the pat...

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