Assisted-suicide doctor Jack Kevorkian dies at age 83

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Dr. Jack Kevorkian at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center on January 15, 2008.
Image: WillMcC.

Jack Kevorkian, the pathologist convicted and imprisoned for helping 130 people commit suicide, died Friday at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan. He was 83. He had been hospitalized for a month with kidney failure and pneumonia. The immediate cause of death was thrombosis

Born Jacob Kevorkian on May 26, 1928 in Pontiac, Michigan, in 1999 he was charged with 2nd degree murder. He was convicted and sentenced to 10-to-25 years in a prison in Coldwater, Michigan, but was paroled on June 1, 2007 due to ill health.

The concept of a doctor assisting suicide was controversial within the US and he was known as "Dr Death". Dr. Kervorkian told the BBC in 2007, "I knew what I was doing... I accepted the consequences because I had to do the right thing."

In 2010 the film You Don't Know Jack, about Kevorkian's life, was made and released on US TV network HBO.

Despite his campaign, physician-assisted suicide is currently legally accepted in only one state, Oregon, which passed a law in 1997 allowing a physician to prescribe lethal drugs to a terminally ill patient.

Kevorkian was also a jazz musician and composer. The Kevorkian Suite: A Very Still Life was a 1997 limited release CD of 5,000 copies from the Lucid Subjazz label.

In 2008 he ran for congress against congressman Joe Knollenberg.