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Victims of the Suicide Prohibition

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A 2007 single-patient study in the Annals of Neurology focused on a 48-year-old woman who has been kept alive for over two years in a state of akinetic mutism – she cannot move or speak. She experienced severe brain damage from a suicide attempt and has been kept alive ever since, apparently against her expressed wishes, while scientists perform experiments on her. From Medscape:

March 13, 2007 — A new study reports that the insomnia drug zolpidem (Ambien, Sanofi Aventis) temporarily improved brain function in an adult patient with akinetic mutism caused by anoxia.

The 48-year-old woman suffered akinetic mutism related to a postanoxic encephalopathy a few days after a suicide attempt by hanging.

Two years later, she was prescribed zolpidem to treat a bout of insomnia. Within 20 minutes of receiving a 10-mg dose of the drug, the subject, who had been unable to speak or walk and was fed by a gastrostomy, was able to communicate, walk, and eat without assistance. These effects lasted for up to 3 hours.

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Written by Sister Y

April 29, 2008 at 4:40 am