Cancer Patients Found to Have Lower Suicide Rates

Institute Finds That Terminal Illness Doesn´t Always Bring Despair

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MILAN, Italy, MAR. 19, 2001 ( The suicide rate among cancer patients is lower than that of the healthy population, according to a study published Sunday by the Italian newspaper Avvenire.

Of a sample of 17,964 patients studied in Italy in recent years by Milan´s Institute of Tumors, five were suicides — 0.027% of the cases. A similar average is true in other European countries, the study said.

Of 900 patients who were in the Institute of Tumors last year, only one asked for euthanasia. When the latter was given palliative treatments to ease his pain, he changed his mind.

Despite highly publicized campaigns that favor euthanasia for terminally ill patients, in hospital corridors it is not a frequent issue, the study´s authors conclude. On the contrary, they said, cancer develops a strong attachment to life in patients.

Franco De Conno, in charge of Palliative Therapies at the Milan institute, said that the real challenge “is to offer all the possibility of enduring the sickness without useless sufferings.”

Noting that euthanasia in the Netherlands costs about $3,600, De Conno said it is “a business for clinics that practice euthanasia, as it is for the insurance companies and the health service, which thus free themselves of the weight of caring for a patients who, when not properly assisted, only ask for death as soon as possible.”

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