Rising suicide rate in Oregon reaches higher than national average:
Oregon’s suicide rate is 35 percent higher than the national average. The rate is 15.2 suicides per 100,000 people compared to the national rate of 11.3 per 100,000.
After decreasing in the 1990s, suicide rates have been increasing significantly since 2000, according to a new report, “Suicides in Oregon: Trends and Risk Factors,” from Oregon Public Health.
We copied the words in boldface above from a Sept. 9, 2010 news release by the Oregon Public Health Service. The release can be read at http://www.oregon.gov/DHS/news/2010news/2010-0909a.pdf?ga=t. Here are the facts:
- Oregon legalized assisted suicide in 1997.
- The first legally assisted deaths occurred in 1998.
- The suicide rate began to rise in 2000.
While there will never be a way to prove a causative effect, since one cannot ask a suicide victim what factors influenced him, the statistical correlation in Oregon between legal suicide under defined conditions and suicide rates in general cannot be denied.
Like Oregon, Vermont also has a higher than average suicide rate. In 2007, the last year for which there are figures, the rate was 14.2 per 100,000 people. At that time Oregon’s rate was 14.9 per 100,000.
Is satisfying a few people’s desire to control when and how they die worth the chance that Vermont’s already high suicide rate would increase as Oregon’s has? Given how close it is already, shouldn’t we fear that it will overtake and surpass Oregon’s rate if the state were to sanction assisted suicide?