Definition of Physician-assisted Suicide
Physician-assisted Suicide Pronunciation
Syllabification: phy·si·cian as·sist·ed su·i·cide
- American English – /fuh-zIsh-uhn-uh-sIs-tuhd sOO-uh-sied/
- British English – /fi-zIsh-uhn-uh-sIs-tid syOO-i-sied/
International Phonetic Alphabet
- American English – /fəˈzɪʃən-əˈsɪstəd ˈsuəˌsaɪd/
- British English – /fɪˈzɪʃən-əˈsɪstɪd ˈsjʊɪsaɪd/
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- Plural: physician-assisted suicides
- Abbreviation: PAS
- Physician-assisted suicide is sometimes called aid in dying, assisted suicide, or death with dignity. While these can relate to physician-assisted suicide they are not limited to assistance by a physician.
- Physician-assisted suicide is an area of inquiry in thanatology, which is the study of death and dying.
- A type of euthanasia.
- Also called:
- doctor-assisted suicide
- physician-assisted death
- doctor-assisted suicide
- “Although suicide has been recorded in both written and oral records in the history of man from primitive times on, no word existed for the phenomenon until the seventeenth century. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word suicide was first used in 1651, but Alfred Alvarez reported in 1972 that it appeared in Sir Thomas Browne’s Religio Medici in 1642. The Oxford English Dictionary states that the word suicidium was actually derived by combining the Latin pronoun for ‘self’ and the verb ‘to kill.’ The word sounds deceptively Latin, but Henry Romilly Fedden, in his 1938 book Suicide, stated that the Romans described the act using Latin phrases, such as vim sibi inferre (to cause violence to oneself), sibi mortem consciscere (to procure one’s own death), and sua manu cadere (to fall by one’s own hand). Early English also used phrases, such as self-murder, self-destruction, and self-killer, all of which reflect the early association of the act with murder” (Farberow 2003:795–96).
- “Anomie, therefore, is a regular and specific factor in causing suicide in our modern societies. It is one of the sources feeding the annual totals. This is a new type that must be distinguished from the others. It differs from them in that it does not depend on the way in which individuals are attached to society, but on the way in which they are regulated by society. Egoistic suicide stems from the fact that men no longer see a reason for living; altruistic suicide comes from the fact that this reason appears to them to lie outside life itself; the third kind of suicide, whose existence we have just established, comes from the fact that their activity is unregulated and they suffer as a consequence. Because of its origin, we shall call this last type ‘anomic suicide'” (Durkheim  2004:81).
- “Physician-assisted death did not begin with the 1993 government-sanctioned process in the Netherlands, nor with the first such acknowledged action by the pathologist Jack Kevorkian in the United States. The practice of ending the life of a suffering patient was so well established by the fifth century B.C.E. that opponents were motivated to mount a strenuous counterattack. The Hippocratic oath offered a landmark definition of the physician’s responsibilities. Included was the key statement: ‘I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest any such counsel.’ In modern times, this controversial practice has become most commonly known as physician-assisted suicide. Some forensic experts and prosecuting attorneys, however, classify these deaths as homicides. The neutral term, physician-assisted death, leaves the question of whether the practice is actually homicide open for consideration” (Kastenbaum 2003:847).
- Aging and Social Gerontology Resources – Books, Journals, and Helpful Links
- Death and Dying Research Resources – Books, Journals, and Helpful Links
- Word origin of “physician” and “assist” and “suicide” – Online Etymology Dictionary: etymonline.com
- Battin, Margaret P., Rosamond Rhodes, and Anita Silvers, eds. 1998. Physician Assisted Suicide: Expanding the Debate. London: Routledge.
- Clark, Nina. 1997. The Politics of Physician Assisted Suicide. New York: Garland.
- Cox, Donald W. 1993. Hemlock’s Cup: The Struggle for Death with Dignity. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books.
- Egendorf, Laura K. 1998. Assisted Suicide. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press.
- Gomez, Carlos F. 1991. Regulating Death: Euthanasia and the Case of the Netherlands. New York: Free Press.
- Hawton, Keith, and Kees Van Heeringen, eds. 2002. The International Handbook of Suicide and Attempted Suicide. New York: Wiley.
- Humber, James M., and Robert F. Almeder, eds. 2000. Is There a Duty to Die? Totowa, NJ: Humana Press.
- Jeffrey, David. 2009. Against Physician Assisted Suicide: A Palliative Care Perspective. New York: Radcliffe.
- Lieberman, Lisa J. 2003. Leaving You: The Cultural Meaning of Suicide. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee.
- McLean, Sheila, and Alison Britton. 1997. The Case for Physician Assisted Suicide. London: Pandora.
- activity theory
- disengagement theory
- life expectancy
Durkheim, Émile.  2004. “Suicide.” Pp. 65–83 in Readings from Emile Durkheim. Rev. ed., edited and translated by K. Thompson. New York: Routledge.
Farberow, Norman L. 2003. “Suicide Basics: History.” Pp. 795–800 in Macmillan Encyclopedia of Death and Dying, edited by R. Kastenbaum. New York: Macmillan Reference USA.
Kastenbaum, Robert. 2003. “Types of Suicide: Physician-assisted Suicide.” Pp. 847–51 in Macmillan Encyclopedia of Death and Dying, edited by R. Kastenbaum. New York: Macmillan Reference USA.
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ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “physician-assisted suicide.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved August 9, 2020 (https://sociologydictionary.org/physician-assisted-suicide/).
APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)
physician-assisted suicide. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/physician-assisted-suicide/
Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “physician-assisted suicide.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed August 9, 2020. https://sociologydictionary.org/physician-assisted-suicide/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“physician-assisted suicide.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 9 Aug. 2020. <https://sociologydictionary.org/physician-assisted-suicide/>.