Spiritual Preparation for Death Uppermost for Terminally Ill

In a study of 988 terminally-ill patients and their primary care givers, the great majority of the patients said they would not consider suicide. "They were concerned with other issues as the end approached-such as their psychological and spiritual preparations for death," summarized Life in Oregon. The study, printed in the Nov. 15, 2000, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, found only 10.6 % of terminally-ill patients consider suicide, and even smaller numbers actually attempt it.

"These issues (physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia) are largely irrelevant and distract us from attending to the real issues of the dying: depression and meeting patients' needs for all kinds of help in their evedryday lives," commented Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, lead investigator and chairman of the Department of Bioethics at the National Instiutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.