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Suicide by advance directive?
  1. D Sontheimer
  1. Dr D Sontheimer, CoxHealth Systems, 1423 N. Jefferson Ave A100, Springfield, MO 65802, USA; daniel.sontheimer{at}


The medical response to suicide is generally resuscitation, followed by attempts to maximise the patient's recovery. Care is generally withdrawn when it is futile and there is no hope for recovery. Suicidal patients who have completed an advance directive may complicate matters. Should medical providers not resuscitate a patient with an advance directive who has attempted to commit suicide? If stated wishes for care are ignored in the emergency setting, how should decisions be made over time in the event of a successful resuscitation resulting in the need for prolonged therapy counter to the wishes of the advance directive? What are the merits of the stated the wishes of suicidal patient? What if they were depressed at the time of the advance directive? This case highlights the need for consideration of these and other concerns in the care of patients who commit suicide and have an advance directive.

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  • Competing interests: None.

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