February 27, 1998 in Nation/World

Paralyzed Student Ends Life With Help Of Kevorkian Dies With Mom By His Side After Winning Right To Leave Hospital

Jim Suhr Associated Press
 
Tags:ethics

A paralyzed university student who won the right to leave a hospital Thursday afternoon and consult with Dr. Jack Kevorkian committed suicide just hours later with the doctor’s help, Kevorkian’s lawyer said.

Roosevelt Dawson, 21, an Oakland University student from Southfield, had been unable to use his arms and legs and had depended on a ventilator to breathe since a viral infection attacked his spinal cord 13 months ago. He left a Grand Rapids hospital earlier Thursday after being hospitalized there for five months.

Kevorkian attorney Geoffrey Fieger said Dawson, who is the youngest person known to have committed suicide with Kevorkian’s help, died between 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. with his mother at his side.

“His last words to his mother were ‘I love you,’ and he said it three times,” Fieger said outside the apartment building where Dawson lived with his mother.

Fieger, who also represented Dawson, said Kevorkian and Dawson had spoken by telephone several times over the last few months.

“I can tell you that Roosevelt Dawson is in a better place,” he said.

Police had been on the scene for at least two hours and Kevorkian and his associates Neil Nicol, and Dr. Georges Reding were seen leaving the apartment before Fieger arrived.

On Wednesday, a psychiatrist working for Kent County Probate Court denied Metropolitan Hospital’s request that Dawson be held involuntarily, hospital spokesman Jim Childress said Thursday.

The hospital sought a commitment order earlier this week after Fieger said he intended to seek Dawson’s release.

Dawson had praised the decision and said he was looking forward to leaving the hospital and ending his life with Kevorkian’s help.

Accompanied by his mother, Dawson left Metropolitan Hospital at 2:30 p.m. Thursday in an ambulance, saying he was headed home, Childress said.

Dawson said he turned to Kevorkian because of the assisted suicide advocate’s willingness to help people in situations like his. He said he would donate his organs.

Dawson is the youngest person known to have committed suicide with the help of Kevorkian. The youngest person previously thought to have died with Kevorkian’s help was Heidi Aseltine, 27, an AIDS patient whose body was found in a suburban Detroit motel last April.


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