175 depressed Oregonian’s given suicide drugs by the state – “All good” say Tassie Premier and leader of The Greens

euthanasia25% of Oregonians seeking euthanasia are depressed (British Medical Journal 1998) but less than 2% are referred for psychiatric evaluation.

Hannah Graham & Jeremy Prichard.

One (but not the only one) of many alarming experiences the research identifies is the Oregon experience since the 1997 legislation bringing in euthanasia was enacted – this is the death of depressed citizens.  In quick summary the British Medical Journal (peer reviewed, and prestigious) published a paper identifying 1 in 4 Oregon euthanasia requesters were depressed.  They also have the data for the % of requesters being referred for psychiatric evaluation – I think any reasonable position is that we don’t want euthanasia as a response to depression.

Let me make a few comments on the graph (as I’ve heard this week “you do like your graphs”). 

1. There does seem to be a marked trend (decline) in referrals.

2. There is a massive gap between the level of depressed patients (red line) and referrals (blue line)

3. There is absolutely no policy response, evident in the data, post publication that shows a caring response to the very real risk that Oregonian’s who are depressed are being euthanased – certainly they are being provided with suicide drugs.

To make this very very unambiguous.

This research is incontrovertible statistical evidence of FAILURE in overseas experience – something Giddings and McKim remain steadfast in not seeing.  They could perhaps read Freakenomics to understand how stats can reveal uncomfortable truth.  25% of applicants ARE depressed, but only 2% are being referred.  In Oregon 1,050 people so far, have received prescriptions for lethal drugs, and 673 taken them and died.  The same BMJ research says 1 in 6 of these 1,050 who received prescriptions are depressed.  I don’t know of any means of estimating how many of the 175 depressed Oregonians have now ended their lives with State supplied suicide drugs.

Lara Giddings, and Nick McKim claim there is no evidence in the jurisdictions so far legalising euthanasia of problems.

So looking at the Oregon experience as reported in the BMJ…

Why do they find it acceptable that over 175 depressed people in Oregon have been given lethal drugs, and some unknown number of them taken them?  They (I assume) find this acceptable because they are saying there are no concerns with euthanasia in other jurisdictions.  If I am wrong, how else do they read the data which they are so confident confirms their proposed path with this legislation? With similar legislative protections as Oregon it would seem reasonable to assume that a similar result would occur in Tasmania.

Why do both our Premier and the state leader of The Greens both find this acceptable?


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