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Omega (Westport). 2013;67(4):329-61.

The end-of-life experiences of 9/11 civilians: death and dying in the World Trade Center.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Pediatrics and Behavioral Science, University of Kentucky Program for Bioethics, Lexington, KY 40536, USA.


This bioethics analysis of trapped civilians in the World Trade Center (WTC) on September 11, 2001, is based on a review of materials in the public domain. Death and dying experiences are divided into three major groups: sudden death, of which there was virtually no suffering or foreknowledge; deaths in which there was a maximum of 102 minutes of suffering; and death by falling or jumping, in which an autonomous decision may have been exercised as a palliative approach. A content analysis of publicly available records of this event reveals many types of end-of-life decisions were being made within the 102-minute time frame from aircraft impact to collapse. Many WTC occupants experienced intensified suffering directly consequent to unprepared emergency dispatchers and inaccurate instructions. Truthtelling and appropriate end-of-life dialogues could have reduced loss of life, suffering, and led to qualitatively improved dying experiences.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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