Category : Health & Medicine

(Wash Post) American Medical Association rejects maintaining its opposition to medically assisted death, deciding instead to keep reviewing the matter

A recommendation that the American Medical Association maintain its opposition to medically assisted death was rejected Monday, with delegates at the AMA’s annual meeting in Chicago instead voting for the organization to continue reviewing its guidance on the issue.

Following a debate on whether the nation’s most prominent doctors’ group should revise its Code of Medical Ethics, the House of Delegates voted by a margin of 56 to 44 percent to have the AMA’s Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs keep studying the current guidance. That position, adopted a quarter-century ago, labels the practice “physician-assisted suicide” and calls it “fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer.”

The council spent two years reviewing resolutions, not so much on whether to support the practice but on whether to take a neutral stance on what has become a divisive issue among health-care providers. The group’s report sought to find common ground, noting, “Where one physician understands providing the means to hasten death to be an abrogation of the physician’s fundamental role as healer that forecloses any possibility of offering care that respects dignity, another in equally good faith understands supporting a patient’s request for aid in hastening a foreseen death to be an expression of care and compassion.”

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Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology

(LA Times) Church attendance linked with reduced suicide risk, especially for R Catholics, study says

Against a grim backdrop of rising suicide rates among American women, new research has revealed a blinding shaft of light: One group of women — practicing Catholics — appears to have bucked the national trend toward despair and self-harm.

Compared with women who never participated in religious services, women who attended any religious service once a week or more were five times less likely to commit suicide between 1996 and 2010, says a study published Wednesday by JAMA Psychiatry.

It’s not clear how widely the findings can be applied to a diverse population of American women. In a study population made up of nurses and dominated by women who identified themselves as either Catholic or Protestant, the suicide rate observed was about half that for U.S. women as a whole. Of 89,708 participants aged 30 to 55, 36 committed suicide at some point over 15 years.

Read it all from 2016.

Posted in Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Suicide

(NY Post) Salina Zito–How suicide became my ‘family secret’ — and shaped who I am

Three generations later, my great-grandfather’s suicide is still impacting my life.

I distinctly remember the moment my mother told me about the family secret. I was a teenager, and she let me know with the firmness and compassion only a mother possesses that the choice her grandfather made was one nobody should ever face.

Not only did it rob him of his life, it delivered countless blows to his immediate family. His children lost their father, they lost their home, my great-grandmother was forced to become a boarder who worked three backbreaking jobs to make ends meet, but it wasn’t enough.

Eventually, my 12-year-old grandfather was forced to quit school to help support the family.

Despite never meeting him and despite my grandfather never speaking of it, three generations later Clifford’s decision shaped who I became. Not because it was something I ever considered doing, but because I felt the importance of looking for signs of hopelessness and despair in the people I knew.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Suicide

(USA Today) Kirsten Powers–Americans are depressed and suicidal because something is wrong with our culture

In September of 2004, I received the call that every person dreads: My father had dropped dead of a heart attack at the age of 61. It came at a time when I was already grappling with other issues, including watching my mother fight breast cancer for the preceding six months, a breakup with a boyfriend and a lack of structure in my life as I was freelancing as a consultant while I tried to determine what I wanted to do next with my career.

I was in an emotional free fall, so I visited a psychiatrist. He said the antidepressant my general practitioner prescribed to help with my life-long struggle with anxiety wasn’t what I needed, so he prescribed a new one. This seemed to only make things worse. Within a few days, I found myself thinking the unthinkable: I want to die.

I couldn’t imagine a life without my father and our hours-long conversations about, well, everything. The pain was debilitating, getting out of bed was an Olympian event, and life was utterly devoid of meaning. I stopped eating and shed 15 pounds in a month. I couldn’t see any reason to be alive.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Psychology, Suicide

A NY Times Article on this week’s CDC Report–Defying Prevention Efforts, Suicide Rates Are Climbing Across the Nation

The analysis found that slightly more than half of people who had committed suicide did not have any known mental health condition. But other problems — such as the loss of a relationship, financial setbacks, substance abuse and eviction — were common precursors, both among those who had a mental health diagnosis and those who did not.

Other studies have found much higher rates of mental health disorders among people at high risk of suicide, experts noted.

The reason most suicide decedents don’t have a known mental disorder is that they were never diagnosed, not that they didn’t have one,” said Dr. David Brent, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh.

Access to guns can make it more likely that an impulsive or intoxicated person will attempt suicide even if he or she has no clear mental health problem, Dr. Brent added.

“We have worked really hard to explain to the public that suicide is not simply a matter of too much stress, but that it involves the identification and treatment of mental disorders as one important component,” he said.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Psychology, Suicide

(NPR Shots blog) CDC: U.S. Suicide Rates Have Climbed Dramatically

Suicide rates have increased in nearly every state over the last two decades, and half of the states have seen suicide rates go up more than 30 percent.

Suicide is a major public health issue, accounting for nearly 45,000 deaths in 2016 alone. That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta decided to take a comprehensive look at suicides from 1999 to 2016.

“Suicide in this country really is a problem that is impacted by so many factors. It’s not just a mental health concern,” says Deborah Stone, a behavioral scientist at the CDC and the lead author of the new study. “There are many different circumstances and factors that contribute to suicide. And so that’s one of the things that this study really shows us. It points to the need for a comprehensive approach to prevention.”

She and her colleagues collected data on suicide deaths from all states. In addition, to better understand the circumstances surrounding suicide, they turned to more detailed information collected by 27 states on suicides that occurred in 2015.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Psychology, Suicide

Must not Miss Video of U.S. Army Major Christina Truesdale’s Story

Posted in Health & Medicine, Military / Armed Forces, Sports

(Usa Today Op-ed) Daniel Payne–Assisted suicide is not about autonomy. It’s a tragedy that we shouldn’t allow

The skeptic might ask: Why object to legalized suicide, particularly where terminally ill patients are concerned? If people want to take their own lives, why should anyone feel entitled to stand in the way?

The answer is twofold. For one, we should not as a rule grant doctors the prerogative to help kill their patients. The whole history of medicine has been one of improved healing or, in terminal cases, reduced suffering; euthanasia, which devalues life to the point of liquidation, is the precise opposite of good and responsible medical care. To legalize suicide in this way is to weaponize the medical system against the very people to which it should be most attentive.

On a deeper, more substantive level, legalized suicide strikes at the heart of one of the most indispensible ideas in human history: That every human life is precious beyond reckoning and worthy of both honor and protection. Killing someone, even someone who is already dying, directly controverts this principle; you cannot inject people with fatal doses of barbiturates without declaring, however implicitly, that their lives are worth less than an artificial minimum standard.

Those who advocate for legalized suicide see it as a matter of radical autonomy: We should leave it up to each individual to determine the worth of his own life, up to and including an act of suicide. But this is simply an evasive, almost cowardly instance of passing the buck. If you are actively or even passively complicit in an act of euthanasia, you cannot say you do not, in some way, agree with the suicidal person’s assertion that his life is a waste and that he is better off dead.

It is philosophically unavoidable.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Suicide, Theology

(Recode) Designer babies are just one example of the ethical dilemmas faced by the genomics industry

We could live in a future world where people pick and choose the traits their babies have, but it may not be the right thing to do.

It’s just one of the many ethical dilemmas that Francis deSouza, CEO of genomics testing company Illumina, who was interviewed by CNBC’s Christina Farr Wednesday at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. llumina sells DNA sequencing technology to companies such as 23andMe and Ancestry.com.

“There was a wealthy industrialist mogul from Silicon Valley who was curious about designer babies for him and his partner,” said deSouza. “With that much power, there are lots of questions that we will have to address about what it means to be human.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology, Theology

(AP) Portugal considers allowing euthanasia, assisted suicide

After legalizing abortion and same-sex marriage in recent times, Portuguese lawmakers will decide Tuesday on another issue that has brought a confrontation between faith and politics in this predominantly Catholic country: whether to allow euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide.

The outcome of the vote is uncertain and is likely to be close, but Portugal could become one of just a handful of countries in the world to permit euthanasia under certain circumstances.

Euthanasia — when a doctor kills patients at their request — is legal in Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. In Switzerland, and some U.S. states, assisted suicide — where patients administer the lethal drug themselves, under medical supervision — is permitted.

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Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Portugal, Religion & Culture

Irish Times exit poll projects Ireland has voted by landslide to repeal Eighth Amendment

Ireland has voted by a landslide margin to change the constitution so that abortion can be legalised, according to an exit poll conducted for The Irish Times by Ipsos/MRBI.

The poll suggests that the margin of victory for the Yes side in the referendum will be 68 per cent to 32 per cent – a stunning victory for the Yes side after a long and often divisive campaign.

More than 4,500 voters were interviewed by Ipsos/MRBI as they left polling stations on Friday. Sampling began at 7am and was conducted at 160 locations across every constituency throughout the day. The margin of error is estimated at +/- 1.5 per cent.

Counting of votes begins on Saturday morning at 9am with an official result expected to be declared in the afternoon.

However, the size of the victory predicted by the exit poll leaves little doubt that, whatever the final count figures, the constitutional ban on abortion, inserted in a referendum in 1983, is set to be repealed.

Read it all.

Posted in --Ireland, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(NBC) Former medical debt collectors using expertise to help the neediest patients

Craig Antico co-founded RIP Medical Debt, a non-profit that buys up batches of overdue medical bills, erasing $120 million in debt for 60,000 patients so far.

Posted in Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Health & Medicine, Personal Finance & Investing, Stewardship

(LA Times) California attorney general appeals judge’s decision to overturn physician-assisted suicide law

California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra on Monday filed an appeal against a judge’s recent ruling overturning the state’s physician-assisted suicide law.

The controversial law, which allows terminally ill patients to request lethal medications from their doctors, has been the subject of litigation since it was enacted two years ago.

Last week, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Daniel A. Ottolia ruled that the law’s passage was unconstitutional and the law should be overturned.

Becerra’s action Monday moves the case to an appeals court, which will decide the future of the law. He also asked that the law stay in place while the matter is further litigated, a request that will most likely be granted, said Kathryn Tucker, an attorney who heads the End of Life Liberty Project at UCSF/UC Hastings Consortium on Law, Science & Health Policy.

Read it all.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, State Government, Theology

(NPR) Hospitals See Growing Numbers Of Kids And Teens At Risk For Suicide

The number of kids who struggle with thoughts of suicide or who attempt to kill themselves is rising. New research, published Wednesday in Pediatrics, finds children ages 5 to 17 visited children’s hospitals for suicidal thoughts or attempts about twice as often in 2015 as in 2008.

The study found kids of all ages are affected though increases were greatest for older adolescents.

Lead author Gregory Plemmons, a pediatrician and researcher at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., says the study results confirmed what he had been seeing at the hospital.

He says he hopes clinicians and families take note. “The No. 1 thing to take home is that it’s important to talk about this and important to ask about it,” he says.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Psychology, Suicide, Teens / Youth

(ABC Nightline) Dying to deliver: The race to prevent sudden death of new mothers

“If I wanted to describe her to someone, I’d describe her as all woman,” Shabazz said. “She was very generous, motivated, dedicated to her family, her work ethic was amazing… she was just a caring loving person.”

Her pregnancy had been going well, Shabazz said. She was not high risk and had been regularly going to her prenatal visits.

“I was excited… because this is what I always wanted, I always wanted a family,” he said.

But during labor, Dickey began having trouble breathing. Within minutes, she went into cardiac arrest and doctors performed an emergency c-section to try to save her and the baby.

“[I thought] this can’t be happening, it seemed like a dream,” Shabazz said. “They asked me to step out. I stepped outside of the room and I could just hear him saying … we’re trying to bring her back, trying to grab a pulse.”

Doctors delivered the baby, but for Dickey, it was too late.

Read it all (the video is highly recommended if you have time).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology, Women