After being passed in 2008 by almost 60 percent of voters, Washington’s “Death With Dignity” program allows citizens of the state to petition for their own doctor-assisted suicide. In the first 10 months since the law took effect, 36 terminally ill people have taken their own lives.

The Washington law is based on Oregon’s assisted-suicide program, instituted in 1997. –JCL

The Guardian:

Thirty-six people have killed themselves in the state of Washington during the first 10 months of its assisted-suicide programme, known as “Death with Dignity”.

The figures released by the US state’s health department give the first official indication of how the controversial law, passed by electoral ballot in 2008, is being applied in practice. Almost 60% of voters backed the law, which came into effect on 5 March 2009, making Washington the second state after Oregon to allow doctor-assisted suicide.

Under the law any resident of Washington who is at least 18, is mentally competent and has been diagnosed with a terminal illness that gives them six months or less to live can ask to be given a lethal dose of medication by a doctor. The law was closely modelled on a pioneering law adopted in 1997 by Oregon, where 460 people have so far died under its terms.

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