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The number of assisted suicide deaths in Washington State, increased by 17% in 2012. Assisted suicide was legalized in March 2009, after a ballot measure.

The number assisted suicide deaths in WashingtonState were: 83 in 2012, 70 in 2011, 51 in 2010. There has been a 63% increase in the number of assisted suicide deaths in Washington State since 2010.

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The number of prescriptions for assisted suicide were: 121 in 2012, 103 in 2011, 87 in 2010. There has been a 39% increase in the number of prescriptions for assisted suicide in Washington State since 2010.

In Oregon, where assisted suicide has been legal since 1998, the number of assisted suicide deaths has also been continuously increasing. Since 2009, there has been a 30% increase in the number of assisted suicide deaths and a 21% increase in the number of lethal dose prescriptions in Oregon.

Similarly, in Belgium, where euthanasia is legal, there was a 25% increase in the number of assisted deaths in 2012.

In Washington State: 

• Only 3 of the 121 people who were prescribed a lethal dose were given a psychiatric evaluation.

• One person died 150 weeks after receiving the lethal dose while 17 of the participants died more than 6 months after receiving the lethal dose.

• The physician who prescribed the lethal dose, was present only 5 times during ingestion.

• One person died 16 hours after taking the lethal dose.

• The report is incomplete. Of the 121 prescriptions for lethal dose, 10 of the Written Request forms were not submitted, 13 Death Certificates were not received, 4 of the Pharmacy dispensing forms were not submitted and 11 of the Consulting Physician forms were not submitted.

The data that we have concerning the practice of assisted suicide in Washington State is submitted, after the death, by the physician who prescribes the lethal dose. Because they use a self-reporting system, abuses are difficult to uncover.

Reprinted with permission from Alex Schadenberg's blog.

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