Death With Dignity - Resources for Patients

Making Decisions about Your Right to Die

If you or a loved one is considering death with dignity and the right to die, you'll want to explore the issues and ramifications - personal, political, ethical and legal.

Find here dozens of resources to help you learn as much as you can about the right to die, and choosing death with dignity on your own terms.

Begin with this overview of issues and considerations: 
Making the Choice to Die: Americans and the Right to Death with Dignity

Decision Making: Is Death with Dignity the Right Choice for You?

man holding patient's hand in hospital bed
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Organizations Focused on Death with Dignity

Organizations built around these issues focus on different aspects of the right to die and death with dignity including civil rights, ethics, the law, education, how-to information, and patient protection.

Find a master list of organizations that address the many aspects of the right to die and death with dignity.

The History of the Right to Die Movement in the US

PBS's Frontline has an interesting timeline that begins in 1980 with establishment by Derek Humphry of the Hemlock Society through 2012.

Additional states have endorsed death with dignity and the right to die since then.

Patient Stories Involving the Right to Die

Find many sides of the issues discussed in these stories:

Books, Videos and Media

  • Video: 
     
    The Suicide Plan from PBS first aired in November 2012.  It follows the stories and issues raised by a number of people who chose to die in their own time frame, told from their own, and their loved one’s points of view.  (Editor's Note: This video is excellent and definitely worth your time.)
  • Book:
    (by Derek Humphry) is a step-by-step how-to book, which Humphrey calls "death by self-deliverance." Humphrey was the founder of the original Hemlock Society (now Compassion and Choices - see above) and was the originator of the Oregon Right to Die legislation. He describes self-deliverance as "the right of a terminally ill person with unbearable suffering to know how to choose to die."  The book also includes information and advice about laws, ethics, life insurance, and more.
  • Book:
    How to Die: Safeguards for Life-Ending Decisions (by James Leonard Park) is a free book, available online that covers the gamut of information one would need to make a choice.
  • Website:
    Right-to-Die Portal
    James Leonard Park (author of the book listed above) has developed this vast resource of information from organizations, to how-tos, to legislation.

Religion / Spiritual Beliefs and Death with Dignity

 It will come as no surprise that the world's religions differ greatly on their points of view about dying with dignity and the right to die. Learn more about the basic religious and spiritual beliefs on this subject with the main religions in North America and the world.

Opinions and Arguments

The right to die, legal or conceptual, is fraught with disagreement, defiant opinions, and issues.  Linked here are a variety of articles with information that surrounds the issues.

The Right to Die, Ethics and the Law

The real legal issue in right to die legislation regards physician-assisted suicide, also called aid-in-dying, more so than whether a patient has a 'right' to choose the time of his or her own time of death.

Here are some useful links regarding physician-assisted suicide:

"How To" Information - Ending One's Own Life

Here are some of the options for ending one's life, perhaps one of the most difficult treatment choices anyone might make:

Terminology

There are a number of terms used in discussions of self-determination of death. Most have some aspect that distinguishes them from others. When communicating with experts in the field, the nuances become important.

Here are some of the terms you may encounter:

  • euthanasia or voluntary euthanasia - is the practice of intentionally ending a life due to a judgment that the life no longer offers any quality
  • physician-assisted suicide, assisted death, or aid-in-dying refer to providers who assist patients with euthanasia because patients themselves have requested that help
  • comfort care and palliative care - are the form of treatment provided to patients who suffer, usually at the end of life (although not always) and may, or may not, be provided during aid in dying

Further:

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