A US suicide prevention group has come under fire for claiming that patients who want to kill themselves with medically prescribed poison are not suicidal.
The American Association of Suicidology (AAS) said in a statement that assisted suicides “should not be considered to be cases of suicide and are therefore a matter outside the central focus of the AAS”.
The claim has prompted an accusation that the group is failing suicidal people.
The stated intention of the AAS is to “promote the understanding and prevention of suicide and support those who have been affected by it”.
But in the statement released on its website, the AAS argues that there are differences between suicide and “aid in dying”, where doctors give patients lethal drugs to take.
The AAS admits that people with disabilities or health problems may often opt for assisted suicide, but it still claims there is no link between the two.
Responding, commentator Wesley J Smith accused the AAS of “normalizing suicides of the ill and disabled”.
Writing in the National Review, Smith said the AAS is “softening the ground” for expanding ‘aid in dying’ laws to include “people with disabilities, chronic illnesses, and progressive conditions”.
He added that this “is a crass betrayal of those the AAS was created to serve and protect”.
‘Forced to lie’
In a seperate article, Smith wrote that in the state of Washington, where assisted suicide is legal, doctors who help to kill patients “are forced to lie on the death certificate” about the cause of death.
Doctors in the state are not permitted to include language referring to:
– Assisted suicide
– or Mercy killing
Currently, assisted suicide is also legal in the US states of Colorado, Oregon, California and Vermont.