What is the difference between assisted suicide and aid in dying?

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David R. Grube, MD
Family Medicine
The difference between assisted suicide and aid in dying is great; suicide is voluntarily taking one's life, while aid in dying patients don't have a choice. Watch family medicine specialist David Grube, MD, discuss the difference in these concepts. 
Barbara Coombs Lee
Hospice Nursing
The contrast between aid in dying, in which a knowledgeable, merciful physician gives his elderly, dying patient the means to halt end-of-life suffering, and assisted suicide, in which a malicious predator seeks out and victimizes physically healthy, mentally ill teens, could not be more clear.

Consider the stark opposites outlined by Dr. James Lieberman:
  • The suicidal patient has no terminal illness but wants to die; the aid-in-dying patient has a terminal illness and wants to live.
  • Suicides bring shock and tragedy to families and friends; aid-in-dying deaths are peaceful and supported by loved ones.
  • Suicides are secretive and often impulsive and violent. Aid in dying is planned; it changes only the timing of imminent death in a minor way, but adds control in a major and socially approved way.
  • Suicide is an expression of despair and futility; aid in dying is an affirmation of a person’s dignity and rational self-determination.
In short, suicide is the self-destructive impulse of a person who has every reason and ability to live. Aid in dying is the self-affirming decision of a person who cannot choose to live and can only choose the manner of an imminent death.