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Social Work Assessment at End of Life Practice Guidelines for Suicide and the Terminally Ill
Social Work in Health Care (1998)
  • Pamela J. Miller, Portland State University
  • Susan C. Hedlund
  • Karen A. Murphy

As social workers, we are educated about the values of client self-determination as well as the affirmation of uniqueness in how the client experiences life and death. In terms of choices at the end of life, assisted suicide has begun to come out of the closet, so to speak, and as a result, the National Association of Social Worker's adopted a policy in 1993 which addresses this end of life option. Oregon passed Ballot Measure 16 in November of 1994 which allows for a terminally ill person to request drugs to end life. As the legalities of assisted suicide are decided by judges and courts, some terminally ill people will think about and decide to take their own lives rather than wait for the disease process to come to its own ending. There are very few practice guidelines available to social workers who work with the suicidal terminally ill. A traditional mental health model for evaluation of lethality cannot be imposed onto this population. A three-part model for assessment and evaluation of a suicidal request from a terminally ill person is proposed in this article.

  • Social workers -- United States -- Case studies,
  • Terminally ill Care and treatment,
  • Death with dignity
Publication Date
Publisher Statement
Copyright (1998) Taylor & Francis
Citation Information
Pamela J. Miller, Susan C. Hedlund and Karen A. Murphy. "Social Work Assessment at End of Life Practice Guidelines for Suicide and the Terminally Ill" Social Work in Health Care Vol. 26 Iss. 4 (1998)
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