Suicide Kits Under Fire as Oregon Proposes Ban of Sale

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No Screening, No Follow-Up

After hearing of Klonoski's death, Hydorn said she went through her invoices to see whether she could find his written request. She could not find a letter from the name, Klonoski, but she did find a correspondence with an unclear recipient and address.

"It was a P.O. box," said Hydorn. "People can really give me any name they want. It could be Joe Blow and I wouldn't know the difference. I just have to trust people."

But Sen. Prozanski's office said the box sent to Klonoski, which was retrieved after his death, had his full name and home address written on the package. Hydorn's company, the Gladd Group, was clearly labeled as the sender of the package.

Hydorn also said that the Daily Beast insinuated that, along with her kit, she sends the recipient a copy of Final Exit, the how-to handbook for terminally ill people who wish to end their lives, written by Humphry. Hydorn said she does not sell the book, but Humphry told her that Klonoski had bought the book more than a year before he ended his life. Hydorn said many of her clients are referred by Humphry.

Frank Kavanaugh, a spokesman for Final Exit Network, said that the organization screens clients with physical and mental health exams to determine whether the network will help to supply information and counsel people on how to end their lives. Clients must be determined by a doctor to be in the last six months of their lives.

"One of the advantages of counseling is that, if a person makes it through preliminary checks, they're very carefully counseled to make sure what they're doing is successful," said Kavanaugh. "If you're not counseled, it can lead to a problem."

But, when asked whether Kavanaugh believes it is a problem that Hydorn does not screen her clients, he said: "I don't think she is being irresponsible. We don't have control of other people."

Some psychiatrists disagree. Dr. Eric Hollander, clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, said it is critical that individuals with psychiatric disorders resist acting on suicidal thoughts or impulses by helping them view their situation in a more realistic perspective.

"The problem is that with increased access to such a device to terminate life, some individuals might be enabled to act on a whim or impulse to kill themselves, whereas if this was not readily available, patients might obtain help for their underlying mental disorder, or view their situation from alternative or more realistic perspectives," said Hollander.

But Hydorn doesn't see it that way, and the grandmother wipes her hands free of repercussions after her kit is sent out.

"Again, if someone gets hurt, I'm sorry, but that's their decision," said Hydorn. "Somebody closer to them than me could have helped that person. It's not my responsibility to help emotionally sick people. There's local help for that."

Not In it for the Money

The Daily Beast reported that Hydorn makes $98,000 per year through her company, but she said that fact is wrong. "I have no idea where they got that number," said Hydorn.

Either way, Hydorn said she is not in it for the money.

"I get emotional satisfaction out of being able to help people," she said. "My motivation is to help people. If they misunderstand that, then so be it, but I'm not at fault for other people's choices."

If you or someone you know has contemplated suicide, please call theNational Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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