Dr. Jack Kevorkian famously said “dying is not a crime” and those words landed him in jail for eight years as he was convicted of second-degree murder for the death of the last man out of 130 assisted suicides. However, according to a survey published in the Journal of Medical Ethics approximately one out of every five people believe that doctors should help the elderly who are not seriously ill but who wish to die because they are tired of living their lives.
“Our finding that a substantial minority of the general public supports physician assistance in dying for older people who are tired of living implies that this topic may need to be taken seriously in the debate about end-of-life decision-making,” the authors wrote.
The survey was conducted using a random sample of 2000 people ages 18 to 95 from the Netherlands, and 21 percent of people agreed with the statement, "In my opinion, euthanasia should be allowed for persons who are tired of living without having a serious disease" the study reports.
According to Dutch law, a doctor can only assist in a suicide if the request is voluntary and if the patient is suffering unbearable pain and has no prospects of improving. Along with the percentage of people who agree with the assisted suicides, 19 percent of them also said that they would request this option if they were in the same situation.
The study also noted that those who were in favor for assisted suicides were likely to be “higher educated, have less trust in their physician to comply with their wishes, and more often prefer to make their own health decisions rather than allowing physicians to make them.”
As it is in the U.S., assisted suicides are only legal in a few states: Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Vermont. Euthanasia become a hot topic after Dr. Kevorkian made headlines assisting people in suicides.
"This topic should be taken seriously in the debate about end-of-life care and decision-making," the authors concluded.