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August 18, 1993

Rational Suicide: No Longer 'Crazy'?

JAMA. 1993;270(7):797. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03510070019003

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RATIONAL SUICIDE tends to be described as either a right or an oxymoron.

The medical community has long taken the latter view, officially condemning any physician who helps a terminally ill patient end his or her suffering by any other than natural means. Yet that may be changing.

See also pp 870, 874, and 875.

In Michigan, the state medical society this year officially took the position of having no position on physician-assisted suicide, saying that it is "not possible to develop a single, consensual statement." The issue has urgency there because of several suicides assisted in the state by Jack Kevorkian, MD, and a new state law that makes physician-assisted suicide a felony.

The issue is also being discussed with renewed vigor nationwide, with proposals to legalize physician-assisted suicide narrowly defeated last year in Washington and California.

Ambivalence is evident even in the American Association of Suicidology (AAS), an