Whilst the debate in the Netherlands focuses on whether to extend euthanasia to people who are “tired of living”, a report opposing this move has just been submitted to the Government.
In drafting its report, the Commission, which was created in July 2014, examined the case summaries of sixty-six psychiatric assisted suicides which took place between 2011 and 2014. The experts alerted the Government to the delicate nature of this issue and of possible spin-offs.
For Dr. Paul Applebaum from the New York Institute of Psychiatry and Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University, the results studied “raise serious concerns”: “for example, more than half of the patients suffered from personality disorders which questioned the ‘stability of their expressed desire to die’”.
Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, psychiatrist and director of the Medical Ethics Programme at California University confirmed that “this is extremely worrying”: the subjective criteria used to establish whether euthanasia can be requested by a person who considers “his/her life to be over” account for the wide age range and the psychiatric diagnoses of the actual cases. He added that some cases could potentially even be treated, According to him, extending the option of euthanasia to psychiatric patients will lead to the risk of “abandoning patients for whom there is still hope”.
In its report, the Commission stated that it is more reasonable to offer solutions to stop people from thinking that “their life is over” when it actually is not.