Euthanasia for “psychiatric conditions” increasing, while care is not

When data over many years of euthanasia practice is collated, a scary picture begins to emerge.

A study published in Psychological Medicine reveals some alarming things about those euthansied in The Netherlands for “psychiatric” reasons.

The researchers looked at cases where people with psychiatric disorders also experienced – often treatable – personality disorders.  This is what they found.

  • More than three-quarters (76%) of those euthanised were women;
  • 19% were younger than 40 years of age;
  • The three most common conditions were depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety;
  • 57% of those euthanised mentioned social isolation or loneliness;
  • More than half the patients refused some form of medical treatment, with the main reason for refusal given being “lack of motivation”;
  • In more than a quarter of cases, the physician appeared to consider a treatment option and then determine it did not need to be tried;
  • In 46% of cases, a previous request for euthanasia was refused;
  • In 39% of cases, the treating GP refused to endorse the euthanasia request and in cases where the request was made to a treating psychiatrist, half the psychiatrists refused;
  • In more than a third (36%) of cases, there was no mention of current treating psychiatrist involvement, which might explain why in half the cases, the euthanasia physician was new to the patient;
  • Alarmingly, in 28% of cases, psychotherapy, which is the primary treatment for personality disorders, was not tried.

Put simply, these numbers represent people who could have been helped, but weren’t.  Those suffering from mental illness deserve better.