To understand the factors associated with interest in assisted suicide among terminally ill patients, we surveyed 50 caregivers of decedent amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients from Oregon and Washington regarding perceptions of patients' interest in assisted suicide and their physical and emotional state in the last month of life. For 38 caregivers, we had baseline information from the patients themselves, gathered a median of 11 months before death, regarding depression, hopelessness, sense of burden, social support, quality of life, pain, and suffering. According to our respondents, one-third of ALS patients discussed wanting assisted suicide in the last month of life. Hopelessness and interest in assisted suicide at baseline predicted desire for assisted suicide later on. ALS patients who were interested in assisted suicide, compared to those who were not, had greater distress at being a burden to others and more insomnia, pain, and discomfort other than pain.
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Physician-assisted suicide
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine