Friday, October 24, 2014

MAAS' Demand Letter to People Magazine: "The risk of suicide contagion is real. The potential victims include children."

Dear Editor:

People Magazine’s coverage of Brittany Maynard breaks all recommended media guidelines for responsible reporting of suicide.  The risk of suicide contagion is real.  The potential victims include children.    

It is well known that media reporting of suicide can encourage other suicides, sometimes called "copycat suicides," or more generally, a "suicide contagion."  A famous example is Marilyn Monroe, whose suicide death led to a suicide spike.

This encouragement phenomenon can also occur when the inspiring death is not a suicide.  An example is the televised hanging of Saddam Hussein, which led to suicide deaths of children worldwide.  An NBC News article begins:      
The boys' deaths - scattered in the United States, in Yemen, in Turkey and elsewhere in seemingly isolated horror - had one thing in common:  They hanged themselves after watching televised images of Saddam Hussein's execution.
http://www.nbcnews.com/id/16624940/ns/world_news-mideast_n_africa/t/copycat-hangings-follow-saddam-execution/#.VDr5AfldWS

Your coverage of Brittany Maynard is, of course, exponentially more intense and of broader range than that of Marilyn Monroe or Saddam Hussein.

As a major media organization, you are expected to be familiar with recommended guidelines for the responsible reporting of suicide.  Important points include that the risk of additional suicides increases "when the story explicitly describes the suicide method, uses dramatic/graphic headlines or images, and repeated/extensive coverage."  See http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention/recommendations-for-reporting-on-suicide.shtml

Your coverage of Brittany Maynard's upcoming death violates all of these guidelines.  We are told of the planned method, when and where it will take place and who will be there.  There is repeated extensive coverage in multiple media.  Your website says that the story has gone "viral."

Meanwhile, People Magazine, in grocery stores everywhere, with children in line, glorifies Ms. Maynard's upcoming death.  Her photo is on the cover; she's beautiful and now she's one of your celebrities.  In big white letters, there is this headline:  "My Decision to Die."  There are also these words, also in white, simple enough for a child to understand:  "Why Brittany Maynard, 29, plans to end her life in less that three weeks."  

According to your publication, Ms. Maynard is going to kill herself, and if you don't do something to change this suicide promotion trajectory, so will many other people.

Now you can write me back, and say, "Oh, but Ms. Maynard's not suicidal, it's different."
                     
Saddam Hussein wasn't suicidal and it wasn't different. Those boys died.

My client, Montanans Against Assisted Suicide, hereby demands the following:
1.  That you immediately cease and desist your suicide promotion activity, which means removing all glorifying content from your website, grocery stores, wherever;
                                                     
2.  That you immediately add suicide prevention content to your publications, including  where to call for help; and
3.  That you in no shape or form promote Ms. Maynard's suicide if and when it occurs.
People Magazine celebrates the heroes among us.  It's time for People Magazine to show its integrity by this time being the hero among us to stop the contagion.

Sincerely,

Margaret Dore,
Attorney for Montanans Against Assisted Suicide (MAAS)

Law Offices of Margaret K. Dore, P.S.
www.margaretdore.com
1001 4th Avenue, 44th Floor
Seattle, WA  98154
206 389 1754 main reception
206 389 1562 direct line

Thursday, October 9, 2014

"This is how society will pay you back? With non-voluntary or involuntary euthanasia?"

Assisted suicide discussion veering into talk of terminating lives on non-terminal people
I am a lawyer in Washington State, where assisted suicide is legal. Our law was passed by a deceptive ballot measure spearheaded by Compassion & Choices. Voters were promised that only the patient would be allowed to administer the lethal dose, which is false. Our law does say that the patient may self-administer the lethal dose, but there is no language saying that administration must be by self-administration. For more information, please go here:  https://www.kcba.org/newsevents/barbulletin/BView.aspx?Month=05&Year=2009&AID=article5.htm
Once assisted suicide is legal, there is pressure to expand. For example, here in Washington State, we have had “trial balloon” proposals to expand our law to non-terminal people. For me, the most disturbing one was a casual discussion in our largest paper suggesting euthanasia for people who didn’t save enough money for their old age. So, if you worked hard all your life, paid your taxes, and your pension plan went broke, this is how society will pay you back? With non-voluntary or involuntary euthanasia?
To view a copy of the newspaper column, please go here: https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/jerry-large_001.pdf.
Protect yourselves and your families. Don’t let assisted suicide become legal in Montana.
Margaret Dore, president,
Choice is an Illusion,
Seattle, Washington

Monday, October 6, 2014

Assisters Can Have Their Own Agenda

http://ravallirepublic.com/news/opinion/mailbag/article_d9ec8917-b025-5aad-97dd-0520559fde00.html

Greed, personal motives can influence 'choice' to commit assisted suicide . . .

A Roundup man was recently charged with “aiding or soliciting suicide” of a 16-year-old girl here in Montana. His apparent motive was to prevent her testimony against him in another matter, i.e., by getting her to kill herself. According to an Associate Press article, he coerced her to actually take steps towards that goal, which fortunately did not result in her death. See  http://billingsgazette.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/convicted-rapist-charged-with-aiding-or-soliciting-suicide-of-victim/article_65c2f39c-ae01-5104-a279-da45b352ef42.html

Similarly, in Minnesota, a former nurse was recently convicted of assisting a young man to kill himself. Both the nurse and the Roundup man had used webcams to communicate with their victims. The nurse’s reported motive was the “thrill of the chase.” See  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/suicideobsessed-us-nurse-convicted-of-helping-coventry-man-kill-himself-9722534.html.

These stories illustrates a fundamental problem with legalizing assisted suicide. The assisting person can have his or her own agenda to encourage a person to kill themselves. The “choice” will not necessarily be that of the victim/patient.

In my practice, where I have a high percentage of older patients, I have witnessed greed by family members over inheritances, including vicious battles over the death bed. This same motive of greed could lead to a coerced suicide, especially if assisted suicide were legalized in our state.

Let’s keep legal assisted suicide out of Montana.

Annie Bukacek,
Kalispell

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Assisters Can Have Their Own Agenda

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/readersrespond/bs-ed-assisted-suicide-20141005,0,1813199.story

Bradley Williams makes a good point about the problems with legalizing assisted suicide, one of them being that people assisting a suicide may have their own agenda ("The perils of assisted suicide," Oct. 2).

Mr. Williams gives the example of a recent Montana case in which a man is accused of encouraging a teenage girl to kill herself in order to prevent her from testifying against him in a rape trial.

I am a doctor in Oregon, one of the few states in which physician-assisted suicide is legal. In this context, assisters with an agenda include our state's Medicaid program, which uses coverage incentives to steer patients to suicide.

The program will pay for a patient's suicide but will not necessarily pay for the patient's treatment to cure a disease or to extend the patient's life.

In other words, with the legalization of assisted suicide, the "treatment" of suicide is displacing desired treatments to cure or to extend life.

I first became aware of such issues in 1982, shortly before my first wife died of cancer. We had just visited her doctor. As we were leaving, he had suggested that she overdose herself on medication.

I still remember the look of horror on her face. She said, "Ken, he wants me to kill myself."

We must protect our health care system from such abuses. Citizens should tell their legislators and other public officials to say no to assisted-suicide.


Kenneth Stevens, Sherwood, Ore.