Poll: Majority of Americans Would NOT Stop Suicide by Terminally Ill Family Member

ashley.rae | October 7, 2015
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As California becomes the fifth “right to die” state, a recent survey shows a majority of Americans would either actively help, or be indifferent towards, a terminally ill family member who wants to commit suicide.

YouGov asked 1,000 Americans adults from Sept. 12-14, “Should physician-assisted suicide be allowed for terminally ill people with less than six months to live?”

Of those polled, 54 percent responded “yes,” 24 percent replied “no,” and 22 percent were unsure.

In the personal case of having a close family member with a terminal illness who wishes to end his or her life, 37 percent would said they would “neither help nor prevent” a family member from ending his or her life, while 20 percent responded they would prevent their family member from ending his or her life, and 19 percent would help their family member end his or her life.

In total, 56 percent responded they would either help, or neither help nor prevent, a family member with a terminal illness who wanted to end his or her life.

The oldest Americans were the least likely to support assisted suicide for the terminally ill, the survey found, with less than half expressing approval.

The 30-44 age group were most supportive of physician-assisted suicide (60 percent), followed by the 18-29 age bracket (58 percent), and the 45-64 range (53 percent). Those 65 and older were the only age group that did not have a majority approve of physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill (44 percent).

Although a majority of Americans responded they support physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill, a majority (60 percent) reported being concerned that physician-assisted suicide laws would “put vulnerable people at risk of being pressured into suicide by relatives.”

In the survey, 26 percent responded they worry “a lot” and 34 percent responded they worry “a little” about individuals being pressured into suicide by their relatives.

On the topic of whether physician-assisted suicide should be allowed for patients who “aren’t terminally ill but are suffering from severe pain or severe disability,” Americans are sharply divided.

In the poll, 36 percent of Americans responded physician-assisted suicide should be allowed, while 36 percent of Americans replied it should not.

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