Assisted suicide deaths are not what you think they are

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

David Rose, writing for the Daily Mail UK, published an article on October 21 titled “Why an ‘assisted death is almost certainly not what you think it is.” Stories about how assisted suicide deaths actually occur are rarely published. 

Recently researcher Dr. Joel Zivot has challenged how deaths by assisted suicide actually occur in his article “Assisted Suicide is neither painless nor dignified.”

Rose states that assisted suicide deaths will often take many hours. Rose writes about the death of Colorado resident Kurt Huschle who died by assisted suicide in July 2017. 

On the morning of July 16, a nurse arrived at their home and checked that Kurt stood by his decision. By noon, he was ready to go. Following the directions given, Susan mixed the contents of two small bottles into a bigger one and gave it to Kurt.

She had expected him to drink the drug cocktail, share a last hug, then pass away peacefully.

Instead, as Susan later told the Denver Post newspaper: ‘With every sip he’s choking and coughing, choking and coughing.’

After 20 minutes, she said, he began to gasp unevenly. He seemed to have lost consciousness. But more than four hours after he took the drugs, he was still alive.

Scared and upset, Susan called a doctor and asked for help. It was then the thought struck her that, like many dying patients, Kurt might still be partly conscious and able to hear her.

At 8.15pm, more than eight hours after Kurt took the drugs, he sat up in bed, retched and finally stopped breathing.

Susan said she still believed it was right to help him die. But it had not been a peaceful farewell and they had not been able to say goodbye as she had wanted.

The Oregon 2019 assisted suicide report states that the time of death ranged from 1 minute to 47 hours. But the report didn’t indicate how many people died more than 90 minutes after taking the lethal drugs.

Assisted suicide drug experimentation 

Assisted suicide activists have been experimenting for several years with lethal assisted suicide drug cocktail experiments to find a cheaper way to cause death. 

An article by Lisa Krieger published by the Medical Xpress in September 8, 2020. uncovers information about the lethal drug experiments:

A little-known secret, not publicized by advocates of aid-in-dying, was that while most deaths were speedy, others were very slow. Some patients lingered for six or nine hours; a few, more than three days. No one knew why, or what needed to change.

“The public thinks that you take a pill and you’re done,” said Dr. Gary Pasternak, chief medical officer of Mission Hospice in San Mateo. “But it’s more complicated than that.”

An article published in USA Today in February 2017 examined the experiments being done on people to find a cheaper lethal drug cocktail for assisted suicide. The article states that assisted suicide researchers are promoting new generations of lethal drug cocktails. The results of the first two lethal drug cocktails were:

The (first) turned out to be too harsh, burning patients’ mouths and throats, causing some to scream in pain. The second drug mix, used 67 times, has led to deaths that stretched out hours in some patients — and up to 31 hours in one case.

The 2020 Oregon report emphasizes the use of the fourth generation of lethal drug cocktails show that the length of time to die has reduced but the problems with the use of these lethal drug cocktails continue.

Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.