It is well-known that the treatable mental illness of depression causes suicidal thoughts, so much so that such thoughts are considered an identifying characteristic of depression for diagnostic purposes (http://www.mental-health-today.com/dep/dsm.htm).
Advocates for assisted suicide are misinformed, and misinform others, when they assert that depressed people are not at risk from assisted suicide. They assert, and they must think, that all patients requesting assisted suicide are required to be screened for depression. That is not true. The Oregon law and the proposed Vermont law defeated last spring by the Senate, do not require all patients to be screened. They leave the decision of whether or not to refer the patient for screening totally up to the prescribing doctor; he must refer a patient only if, in his judgment, the patient’s judgment is impaired by depression. See Section 5284 of the VT House Bill, identical to that of the Senate, at http://www.leg.state.vt.us/docs/2012/bills/Intro/H-274.pdf, p. 11.
Something is clearly wrong with the Oregon doctors’ judgment. Only 1 of the 71 patients who died in Oregon last year from assisted suicide was referred for screening for depression, despite a 2008 study from the Oregon Health Department showing that 25% of patients seeking assistance in suicide were depressed and a 2009 note from the department noting its concern that patients with treatable depression were being helped to commit suicide. Read the article linked below for more about this concern.
The article also points out the shocking fact that patients who have apparently lived more than a year after receiving the lethal dose have taken it and died, despite the requirement that these deadly drugs be given only to those within six months of death.
Here’s the link: