Seven percent of more than 2,000 Americans surveyed said they would encourage sick and old people to kill themselves even if they were conscious and their lives could be maintained on machines or drugs, a Nebraska psychologist says. Those most likely to favor "pulling the plug" were profiled as being smokers, poor drivers, unhappy, having low self-esteem, suicide-prone and apt to have been involved in a recent physical fight, the psychologist said. Dr. Paul Cameron of the Great Plains Mental Health Center of North Platte, Neb., said his findings emerged from a four-year study involving 2,251 people aged 12 to 96. He said the purpose of the study was to find out how people felt about preservation of life -- not only the lives of the old, but those of the young down to 5 years old. Cameron said he also sought a distinction between those who believed in the Judeo-Christian ethic, advocating preservation of life, and those who hold to the new "humanist manifesto," which values the individual's right to control his own destiny. Most people in the empirical test, who were drawn from rural, urban, suburban and small cities in California, Maryland and Michigan, said they would approve of life-sustaining medical treatment for a 5-year-old for an indefinite period. But when the same people were asked if they would maintain the lives of the sick and elderly on machines or drugs indefinitely, the figure dropped to less than 50 percent. Almost 90 percent said the sick and old should be given the choice of life and one-third said suicide should be made legal. "Seven percent didn't just say the old should have the right to die, they said they would encourage them to take their lives," Cameron said."Fourteen percent said they'd give the old and sick '24 hours to get out of town,' while 9 percent would give them a week." "Our study shows that people don't like the old, sick and ugly and would just as soon they'd kill themselves," Cameron said.