Four members of a group called Final Exit Network (FEN) were indicted in Georgia by a grand jury for offering assistance to help John Celmer, a 58-year-old man, to commit suicide. They were also charged with tampering with evidence and violating Georgia’s anti-racketeering law. Three of the four were arrested a year ago during a sting operation using an undercover agent who sought out the group to ask for assistance with suicide. FEN is reported to have assisted numbers of suicides by offering an “exit guide” which instructs people to purchase helium tanks and a hood.
Washington State released a report on assisted suicides for the first year the law allowing assisted suicide was in effect. According to the report, 63 prescriptions for lethal drugs were obtained and 36 people used them to commit suicide. Physicians for Compassionate Care Education Foundation Washington reports that only 7% of the patients were referred for psychiatric evaluation despite the fact that the most significant underlying reason for requesting suicide is depression. As in Oregon, the most common reasons for suicide requests were concerns about losing autonomy, decreased ability to participate in activities, and perceived loss of dignity.
A hearing was held earlier this week in a Connecticut court on a lawsuit filed by Compassion and Choices and several physicians who are seeking to overturn Connecticut’s law prohibiting assisted suicide. Attorneys for the state have asked the court to dismiss the case, arguing that this is an issue more properly dealt with by legislatures. Advocates of assisted suicide have asked the court to declare that “aid-in-dying” is a medical term of art which should replace “assisted suicide.”