By Alex SchadenbergExecutive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
On Friday I published an article on a study concerning 100 requests for euthanasia for psychiatric reasons in Belgium.
Lieve Thienport, the psychiatrist who approved the euthanasia death of "Laura" the 24-year-old physically healthy Belgian woman who lives with suicidal thoughts is also the psychiatrist who examined the 100 people who requested euthanasia in this study.
A Medical Daily report, concerning the same study also focussed on the drugs that are used for euthanasia in Belgium.
To end their lives usually at home or in a hospital, the majority used sodium thiopental, the researchers reported. This barbiturate, ... is commonly known as the first of three lethal injection drugs administered to American prisoners who are executed under a death sentence. In 2011, Hospira Inc., the only company still making the drug at that time, stopped production at its Italian plant when the European Union banned export of the barbiturate as a way to end executions in the United States. However, this same drug has been chosen as Belgium's standard protocol for euthanasia.
The study indicates that people with disabilities are far more likely to die by euthanasia for psychiatric reasons. According to the study euthanasia for psychiatric reasons included people with Autism and people with eating disorders. From the study:
Most of the patients suffered from a treatment-resistant mood disorder (n=58, including 48 with major depressive disorder and 10 with bipolar disorder) and/or a personality disorder (n=50), while 29 patients had both.
Other psychiatric diagnoses included post-traumatic stress disorder (n=13), schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders (n=14), anxiety disorders (n=11), eating disorders (n=10), substance use disorders (n=10), somatoform disorders (n=9), pervasive developmental disorders (n=8; including 7 with Asperger syndromeâ€”an autism spectrum disorder (ASD)â€”and 1 with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), obsessiveâ€“compulsive disorders (n=7), dissociative disorders (n=7) and complicated grief (n=6), among others.
People with disabilities are right to be concerned about euthanasia.