A Connecticut woman will become Vermont’s first nonresident to die by medically assisted suicide on Thursday.
76-year-old Lynda Bluestein traveled from Connecticut to Vermont on Wednesday to prepare for her scheduled death. Bluestein’s son, Jake Shannon, told News 12 Connecticut that Bluestein will take a lethal injection on Thursday morning.
“I’d like to be remembered as someone who never thought that second best was even in the realm of possibility; who always believed that you can make everything better,” said Bluestein.
Bluestein said the state of Connecticut was “cruel” for not allowing medically assisted suicide. Supporters of assisted suicide also commonly refer to the practice as medical aid in dying (MAID), physician-assisted death, and aid in dying.
“Our state has failed my family and many others. Who can take a calendar and say that’s the day I’m going to die?” said Bluestein. “I was astonished on how cruel that felt.”
In anticipation of her death last month, Bluestein donated two “wind phones” to her local library, one of which resides in the children’s section. The phones aren’t connected to anything. Rather, the user carries on a one-way conversation to their deceased loved one as a means of processing grief. The concept originated with an unconnected telephone booth in Japan established in 2010 by a man grieving his cousin’s death.
Since its legalization in 2013, 200 individuals have died using Vermont’s medically assisted suicide, according to a report from the Vermont Department of Health to the state legislature. Over 150 of those cases sought suicide due to cancer, including Bluestein, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Only those with a terminal illness given six months or less to live qualify for medically assisted suicide, and the individual must self-administer the medication.
The state classifies the manner of these deaths as natural, with the cause listed as the underlying disease that prompted them to seek medically assisted suicide.
In addition to Vermont, nine other states and Washington, D.C., allow medically assisted suicide: California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, and the state of Washington. However, only Vermont and Oregon allow nonresidents to obtain it.
Bluestein sued Vermont in 2022 over its original restriction of the practice to residents only. Last May, the state legislature removed that requirement.
Over the years, Bluestein and groups like the Death With Dignity organization have advocated to legalize medically assisted suicide in Connecticut, but to no avail. Proposed legislation on the matter dating back to the late 1990s initially made it no further than introduction. Legalization gained slight momentum with committee assignments beginning in 2020; however, the bills haven’t advanced out of any committee over the last three legislative sessions.
In Bluestein’s last testimony advocating for legalization of medically assisted suicide, she insisted that the majority of Connecticut residents support it.
“When I, like so many before me, have just wanted ‘to wake up dead,’ I want it to be at home and at peace,” said Bluestein.
Over 5,000 patients in eight states died from medically assisted suicide from 1998 to 2020, according to data published in 2022 by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
If you are having thoughts of suicide, call or text 988 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources.