As a New Jersey physician, I oppose bill A1504 – Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act – for many reasons. Among them are three important ones:
Firstly, proponents of legalizing assisted suicide say that it will be associated with a decrease of general, or unassisted suicide by offering a legal option. But this is incorrect. In states that have legalized assisted suicide, the rates of all-cause suicide go up, not just assisted suicide. This occurrence is known as “suicide contagion.” Suicide is a major health crisis, and if we legalize assisted suicide in New Jersey, we would only add to the problem.
A study published in the Southern Medical Journal demonstrated that legalizing assisted suicide in other states has led to a rise in overall suicide rates — assisted and unassisted — in those states. The results of the study show that after controlling for various socioeconomic factors and other state-specific issues, assisted suicide states have a 6.3 percent increase in total suicide rates. And for individuals over 65 the increased suicide rate was found to be a staggering 14.5 percent. As stated in the study’s conclusion, “there is no evidence that PAS is associated with significant reductions in non-assisted suicide for either older or younger people.”