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June 1997

Assisted Suicide

Author Affiliations

Mayo Clinic 200 First St SW Rochester, NY 55905

Arch Neurol. 1997;54(6):674. doi:10.1001/archneur.1997.00550180005001

After reading the "Controversies in Neurology" section published most recently in the Archives,1 I am motivated to make a suggestion.

Suicide by definition is destruction of the self by the self. Once it is assisted, then suicide is no longer suicide but must be something else. Assisted suicide is one of the absurd but deadly euphemisms that characterizes so much of the 20th-century disasters. Assisted suicide is as absurd as the Spanish Civil War slogan, "Long Live Death."2

Be that as it may, it is not impossible for a practicing physician such as myself to agree that there may be some situation in a person's life when life, for one reason or another, becomes so burdensome that a person may decide that his or her life must be ended. The medical profession is, however, ill equipped and poorly trained to deal with assisting suicide. Most physicians simply do