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Euphemisms for Physician Assisted Suicide and A Sick Patient Ending His/Her Life

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Updated: December 20, 2006

Terms for Ending a Life

What do you call it when a sick patient deliberately chooses to end his or her own life?

What do you call it when a physician prescribes a lethal overdose for a patient, that the patient chooses to take or someone else chooses for the patient?

What terms are used to describe these processes?

These questions were some of the ones considered by journalist, author, founder of the Hemlock Society and president of ERGO (Euthanasia Research and Guidance Organization), Derek Humphry in his Assisted Suicide Blog in November 2006.

Euphemism for Death and Dying Topics
As noted in the article on Euphemisms, Slang, Metaphors and Expressions there are many alternative terms that people use instead of using the words dying, death or dead, in an attempt to find more socially acceptable terms, deny death and also to keep death at arm's length.

In his blog, Derek Humphry, explored some of the euphemisms used for physician assisted suicide and the term that is used to describe the process when when a sick patient chooses to end his or her own life.
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Physician Assisted Suicide

For when a doctor prescribes a lethal overdose which the dying patient chooses to drink:
    Physician-assisted suicide
    Physician-assisted death
    Physician-assisted dying
    Physician-hastened death
    Death With Dignity
    Aid in Dying
    Medically-assisted dying
    Medicide (Kevorkian MD book)
    Physician-managed death
    Mercy killing
    Terminal sedation

A Sick Patient Ending His/Her Life

For when a sick patient chooses to end his or her own life without medical help:
    Self-deliverance
    Patient-directed dying (Preston MD book)
    Humane self-chosen death
    Auto-euthanasia
    Rational suicide
    Hastened death
    Right to choose to die
    Choice in dying
    Self-determination
    Suicide
    Assisted suicide
    Final Exit (Humphry book)
    Managed death
    Self-destruction

About ERGO – The Euthanasia Research and Guidance Organization
The Euthanasia Research & Guidance Organization (ERGO) is a nonprofit educational corporation based in Oregon, USA. ERGO was founded in 1993 to improve the quality of background research of assisted dying for persons who are terminally or hopelessly ill and wish to end their suffering.

The organization holds that voluntary euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, and self-deliverance, are all appropriate life endings depending on the individual medical and ethical circumstances.
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Sources:
Derek H. Euphemisms for death, dying, suicide, euthanasia, right to die, dead. Assisted-Suicide Blog. 22 November, 2006. 18 December 2006. <http://assistedsuicide.org/blog/2006/11/22/euphemisms-for-death-dying-suicide-euthanasia-right-to-die-dead/>
Dyer KA. Euphemisms, Slang, Metaphors & Expressions. August 2006. 18 December 2006. <http://dying.about.com/od/deathlanguage/ss/deathslang.htm>

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