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Book and Media Reviews
May 13, 2009

Understanding Assisted Suicide: Nine Issues to Consider

JAMA. 2009;301(18):1937-1938. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.618

Imagine that your father is terminally ill with cancer and in constant pain when he asks you to help him end his suffering by helping him commit suicide. How would you react? What would you do? Have you even given the possibility any thought?

That is the dilemma that John Mitchell and his sister faced: one that led to profound soul-searching, eventually leading Mitchell to write a book “about ideas” born out of the deep emotion of watching his father, and then his mother, die under the best circumstances that medicine and law had to offer at the time. Mitchell's book, Understanding Assisted Suicide, was, as the cover states, a personal journey that ultimately led him to wonder if the option he rejected years before when his father asked him for help in ending his life should have been considered more seriously.