Sharp rise in euthanasia of psychiatric patients


euthanised-psych-patients-24orangesLast year 42 people with a psychiatric disorder were euthanized in the Netherlands.

This is a sharp increase from 14 deaths in 2012 and is in fact more than all euthanasia deaths for psychiatric patients combined since euthanasia was legalised in 2002.

According to Edith Schippers, the Minister of Health, the increase of deaths is caused by a greater willingness of psychiatrists to grant a patient’s request for euthanasia, De Correspondent writes. The committee that checks euthanasia deaths for due care expects the numbers to settle at this level. Several doctors questioned by De Correspondent believe there was a taboo on euthanasia in the field of psychiatry that is now slowly ebbing away.

The six criteria for due care state, amongst others, that sufferers must be of sound mind and without hope of getting better in order to be euthanized. These criteria make it extra difficult for sufferers of psychiatric disorders to have their wish for euthanasia granted.

Some of the problems that are either unique to psychiatry or just more prevalent than in other fields of medicine:

  • The death wish can be part of the disorder.
  • Patients are often younger, making it harder to determine that their situation is without hope.
  • Psychiatric disorders are rarely lethal and treatment, even if only palliative, is often possible.
  • Conditions like depression can make a patient’s own estimate of their chances more pessimistic than warranted.

See also: Dutch death clinic working at full capacity.

1 Comment »

  1. […] finally figured out how to euthanise psychiatric patients. Euthanasia was legalised in 2002, but the rules of due care made it difficult to decide if […]

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