The end-of-life experiences of 9/11 civilians: death and dying in the World Trade Center.Omega (Westport). 2013;67(4):329-61
Authors: Rosenthal MS
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.