National right-to-die advocacy group Final Exit Network has been found guilty of assisting in the 2007 suicide of a 57-year-old woman from Apple Valley, Minnesota. Doreen Dunn lived with chronic pain for a decade before taking her own life.
Attorneys for Final Exit Network argued the group did nothing illegal, and said its advocacy work is constitutionally-protected free speech. But Dakota County prosecutor Phil Prokopowicz said Dunn didn't know how to take her own life until Final Exit Network gave her a "blueprint" to suicide.
"This is an organization that directly connects to its members and provides them with the knowledge and means to take their own life," Prokopowicz said in his closing arguments. "In the state of Minnesota, that's where the line is crossed."
National Suicide Prevention LifeLine: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
There are several warning signs of suicidal thoughts or behavior that loved ones can keep an eye out for. The more of the following behaviors a person exhibits, the greater the risk they may attempt self-harm.
1. Sleeping too little or too much
2. Increasing the use of alcohol or other drugs
3. Displaying extreme mood swings
4. Acting anxious, agitated or recklessly
5. Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
6. Withdrawing or feeling isolated
7. Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
8. Talking about being a burden to others
9. Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
10. Talking about wanting to die
11. Looking for a way to kill oneself
Those who are concerned about a friend or loved one are urged not to leave that person alone and to remove firearms, alcohol, drugs and any sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.
In a crisis situation, a person can turn to an emergency room or a mental health professional. Law enforcement officers across the state are also trained to respond to mental health crises, and loved ones can request welfare checks as well.