Psychiatric Patients Choose Assisted Suicide over Treatable Illness in Netherlands

Psychiatric Patients Choose Assisted Suicide over Treatable Illness in Netherlan

Assisted suicide or euthanasia is legalized in many countries. It is legal for people suffering from unbearable and untreatable illnesses. A study was performed to examine most of deaths of psychiatric patients caused by euthanasia from 2011 to mid-2014 in the Netherlands, in which doctors participated to help people die. There were 37 in 66 cases where patients refused to adopt treatments that would have helped and instead went for assisted death.

Presently, countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Canada and a few US states- Oregon, Vermont, Montana, Washington and California- have legalized the euthanasia.

"When you actually try to implement it even in a setting where there is excellent healthcare, there are a lot of red flags that need to be investigated further," said lead study author Dr. Scott Kim, a psychiatrist and bioethicist at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. The study has been published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry on Wednesday.

The Study reported that about a third of the people who were seeking euthanasia were aged 70 years or older, and 44% were between ages 50 and 70, and about a quarter were 30 to 50 years old. About 70% were women. The most of the people who were seeking assisted suicide had suffered mental illness. They had problems such as substance abuse, mild dementia or physical pain. More than half were diagnosed to have personality disorder and other were reported being intensely lonely.

More than half of the approved cases of assisted suicide, about 55%, were those which refused medical care that would have helped. This trend is very concerning, according to Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, psychiatrist and director of the Medical Ethics Program at the University of California, Irvine.

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