Dr. Jack Kevorkian dead at 83
June 3rd, 2011
08:49 AM ET

Dr. Jack Kevorkian dead at 83

Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the Michigan pathologist who put assisted suicide on the world's medical ethics stage, died early Friday, according to a spokesman with Beaumont Hospital. He was 83.

The assisted-suicide advocate had been hospitalized in Michigan for pneumonia and a kidney-related ailment, his attorney Mayer Morganroth has said.

The music of Johann Sebastian Bach, Kevorkian's favorite musician, was put on the intercom so he could hear the music as he was dying, Morganroth said.

The 83-year-old former pathologist had struggled with kidney problems for years and had checked into a hospital earlier this month for similar problems, his lawyer, Mayer Morganroth, told CNN last month. He checked back into Beaumont Hospital in the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak on May 18 after suffering a relapse, Morganroth said.

Kevorkian, dubbed "Dr. Death," made national headlines as a supporter of physician-assisted suicide and "right-to-die" legislation. He was charged with murder numerous times through the 1990s for helping terminally ill patients take their own lives.

He was convicted on second-degree murder charges in 1999 stemming from the death of a patient who suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly called Lou Gehrig's disease. He was paroled in 2007.

After his release, he said he would not help end any more lives.

In an interview with CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta last year, Kevorkian said he had no regrets about his work.

"No, no. It's your purpose (as a) physician. How can you regret helping a suffering patient?" he said.

In that interview, Kevorkian said that he had three missions in life and that he himself was not ready to die.

One of his missions was to warn mankind of "impending doom" that will come from the culture of overabundance.

"I'm not going to be too popular for that one," he said.

His second mission was to educate people about assisted suicide, and his belief that in states where assisted suicide has been legalized, it is not being done right. He believed that people shouldn't have to be terminal in order to qualify for help in ending their own lives.

Kevorkian's third stated mission was to convince Americans that their rights are being infringed upon by bans on everything from smoking to assisted suicide.

In 2008, at the age of 79, he had a failed run for Congress in Michigan.

Morganroth told the Detroit Free Press it appears Kevorkian suffered a pulmonary thrombosis when a blood clot from his leg broke free and lodged in his heart. With Kevorkian were his niece Ava Janus and Morganroth.

“It was peaceful," Morganroth told the paper. "He didn’t feel a thing."

Kevorkian's interviews with CNN in past years:

Dr. Sanjay Gupta: I've rarely been at a loss for words when conducting an interview

soundoff (1,212 Responses)
  1. Veronica

    I wonder what the life insurance companies think. Do they deem "end of life assistance" as suicide and won't pay up....or what?

    June 3, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • colonelingus

      Good point Veronica. I was wondering that myself. Anyone out there who can answer this?

      June 3, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Carl, Secaucus, NJ

    If we're not going to have health care as a guaranteed right, then actually I would rather commit suicide if things are hopeless, and leave my family some money, rather than have it all drained away in a futile effort to prolong my life.

    June 3, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Pull the plug

    Soooo did he die of natural causes or did he get an "assist"?

    June 3, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Gabby

    He was a hero and he should always be remembered as that he helped many people end their suffering and was no coward Rest In Paradise Dr. K, my condolences to his family

    June 3, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. gigi

    he will be missed for sure all you people complaining have u ever saw terminal ill people kervokian was a great man i know alot of people in oakland county mich will miss him greatly

    June 3, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tobefair

    In a country that sells harmful prescription drugs, toxic food, automatic weapons capable of mass murder, discriminates against minorities/gays/women, allows people to be put to death, and makes laws that benefit the few, I will not be told that I cannot ask for assistance in suicide.

    June 3, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tobefair

      To sum it all up, let the people choose if they want to be assisted in suicide, not the government

      June 3, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. DaleMM

    I don't know what your situation was but the reality is that most pets are euthanized because the owners can't afford their medical treatment. That's not compassion, that's decision-making based on economics.

    June 3, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • George

      Uh thats a bit different than a cognitive human being deciding its time to end their own life. Doc just helped them it was there choice. In the pets case it was not by the pets choice.
      Dr K just assisted people he didn't make the decisions on who died and who didn't the people themselves decided on their own. We all should be free to do with ourselves what we want as long as it does no harm to others.

      June 3, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • DaleMM

      Sorry Mike to disappoint your vision of Kevorkian but he actually did decide who should and should not die. And when he asked Thomas Youk if he was sure he wanted to be assisted in his suicide, he admitted that he couldn't understand what Youk's reply was but he went ahead and offed him anyway. As Youk's wife Melanie put it, "What difference does it make?".

      June 3, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • God Who?

      World GOVERNMENTS can KILL over 100,000 innocent men, women, and children in a few month's time. They do this all in the name of $WAR$.

      Yet a person who is dying of wretched pain because of a horrible illness CANNOT GET any HELP FROM A DOCTOR when they want to continue on without their diseased body.

      June 3, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Whisperer

      CRUEL, cold, GREEDY world we live in.

      Our FOUNDING FATHERS did not have this mess of a government and society in mind when they made the USA.

      You should be ashamed, PRESIDENT OBAMA.
      If you are comparable to Abe Lincoln then I'm just like Jesus Christ.

      June 3, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Michael

    Jack Kevorkian is now part of our history. He was dedicated to his belief that a person should be able to make their own choices regarding their own quality of life. We may not all agree with him but he felt he was helping people. I personally want to fight till the absolute end but I can't fault others who wanted a peaceful end to their suffering.

    June 3, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Earl

      Yeah but he used disabled people (most of whom were not terminally ill) to make his point and that's how he will ultimately go down in history. Shame on Kevorkian

      June 3, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Olga

      Thank you Kavorkian:) Gupta is a hack.

      June 3, 2011 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. walter

    He was a true American patriot. Fought for your right to be free.

    June 3, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Earl

      Unless you were an American with a disability. Then he fought for the right to end your life and he got away with it because too many people see disabled people as "better off dead"

      June 3, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ed

      Nonsense, we see them as intellectual equals. People who are perfectly able to decide for themselves whether or not to live with their disability. You, on the other hand, want to look at them as handicapped. Incapable of making their own decisions... But of course, you are probably just basing your opinion of lopsided religious beliefs.

      June 3, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. DaleMM

    Mike, check the facts. Sorry to burst your little bubble, but it is well known that most of Kevorkian's victims were NOT terminally ill. They were simply disabled people who Kevorkian saw as better off dead. Try to be a critical thinker and stop mindlessly buying into media representations.

    June 3, 2011 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donna

      DaleMM, I don't think you see the whole picture here as it were.. Dr Kavorkian never once decided for himself that those people were better off dead.. that wasn't his decision to make. Those "victims" as some people like to call them, were simply practicing their right to decide for themselves whether they wanted to continue living a life suffering from their illness or to die with a bit of dignity without all the pain and suffering. I, for one, would like to be able to have the right to decide that for myself either way. Those "victims" also went the smart route, IMHO, by going to a doctor , whom they knew would help them, and choosing to have things done in a non violent, excessive way as opposed doing it themselves and possibly something going wrong in the process. I don't fault them for what they decided and choose to do and I do not fault Dr Kavorkian for doing what his oath requred him to do which is to aid and help his patients to the best of his ability and to help make his patients as comfortable as possible. I feel that he did that. People want to believe it's ethically wrong, but bottom line is, if he hadn't helped, they would have found another way and that's usually when things go wrong.

      June 3, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      Didn't know that over 50 percent of his "victims" were not terminally ill. I like your "critical thinking."

      June 3, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Shifter

    What a fraud. How can he be an advocate for assisted suicide when he didn't even practice what he preached?

    June 3, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      He only assisted those in pain/agony and who didn't want to live and needed help killing themselves; he was not in that condition when he passed, so that is why he didn't "practice what he preached."

      June 3, 2011 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Whisperer

      Maybe, he didn't need to.

      June 3, 2011 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Seth

    Saint Jack - patron of choice, of those in unrelenting pain, of those that god has made a plaything of by torturing to death. May you rest in peace, sir, in place more just than heaven.

    June 3, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. hippiekenny

    Go In Peace, Jack . . . Thank you for standing up for a human right

    June 3, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Olga

    Thank you. I am sure a few decades down the road you will get your place in the history books, your own statue and the streets named after you.
    Unfortunately, our society is not advanced enough yet to appreciate you. RIP

    June 3, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. john houston

    Dr Jack I hereby nominate for sainthood.He is far more compassionate towards humans in their seeking relief from terminal pain>if I could offer the same services as a pharmacist I would.An individuals decision to end his/her own life is nobodies business other than the person suffering.The government doesnot need to enter this last dignity of the individual.Nobody should be involved in this last decision we ass humans make.Dr jack is a saint ,far more appropriate than the nonsense of sainthood by the catholic church and other bogas religions

    June 3, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
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