Opinion

US statistics show claims that voluntary euthanasia reduces suicide rates 'utterly spurious': Melbourne ethicist

June 2 2016A Melbourne Anglican ethicist has challenged claims that legalising assisted dying will reduce Australia’s suicide rate, saying figures about voluntary euthanasia in the US State of Oregon show the claim is “utterly spurious”.

Dr Denise Cooper-Clarke, who teaches medical ethics at Melbourne University and is an Adjunct Lecturer in Ethics at Ridley College, took issue with a letter to the editor published in The Age on 28 May that claimed that since the introduction of assisted dying in Oregon, published statistics showed that the overall suicide rate had decreased substantially.

In fact, Dr Cooper-Clarke wrote on the website of Ethos, the Evangelical Alliance Centre for Christianity and Society, that an Oregon Public Health report Suicides in Oregon: Trends and Associated Factors’ showed that the rate of suicide among Oregonians had been increasing since 2000 and that in 2012, the age-adjusted suicide rate was 17.7 per 100,000, 42 per cent higher than the national average in the US.

“The report states that ‘Suicide is one of Oregon’s most persistent public health problems’,” she wrote.

For Dr Cooper-Clarke’s full response, see http://www.ethos.org.au/Online-Articles/Blog/response-to-letter-in-the-age-about-voluntary-euthanasia.