Euthanasia for non-terminally-ill patients

In the US, only the states of Washington and Oregon have passed legislation allowing patients to undergo physician-assisted suicide, as long as they have been certified to suffer from terminal illnesses. Belgium goes one step further: it permits physician-assisted suicide even for patients with psychiatric conditions, such as depression, and even allows children to request euthanasia.

I support the physician-assisted suicide laws in Oregon and Washington. One of my close relatives suffered from a painful terminal illness and ultimately decided to end his life by jumping out of a window. Sadly, he survived the initial fall and only died a few days later, in pain.

While psychiatric conditions, particularly depression, can be just as debilitating as physical pain, is Belgium’s law too liberal in its scope?

Seems to me that helping people with depression kill themselves is the exact opposite of what society should be doing.

I agree. One of the patients featured in the video I linked above was euthanized because she experienced life-long depression. However, her son (who did not find out about the suicide until the hospital called him a day later) felt that his mother’s depression was largely caused by her estrangement from her children, and the doctor should therefore have urged her to reach out to her children first.

The Netherlands too.

When depression is curable, yes. But for people who have suffered through decades of depression without getting relief from drugs, why not? (the only example I read about, in the Netherlands, was such a case).

I should expect it’s not offered as a first option.
However if no amount of shrinks, pills or Belgian beer have ever helped, what else do you propose ?

Many people feel that in the Netherlands, things have progressed too far. A lot of doctors feel uncomfortable with the demands of patients. (Also it’s insane that checking whether the two doctors involved acted properly is done after the fact.)

Maybe it’s harsh to say “no euthanasia for you” to people who are clearly suffering (from depression, OCD, psychosis), but I think that’s better than helping people to end their lives who could possibly be cured down the road. Psychiatry is not a hard science (even less so than physical medicine), so I’d say: stick to terminal, physical illness to be on the safe side.

Because suicide doesn’t treat the depression. It’s the opposite of treating the depression. It’s fundamentally worse than just doing nothing at all and letting the depression run its course, since depression is not a terminal illness and not all hopelessly depressed people will kill themselves.

Keep trying.

What do you call “safe side”? Safe side for whom? According to you, I should keep suffering for a couple decade more just in case someone would invent some miracle pill at some point in the future that would allow me to have some years of regular dull old age after a lifetime of suffering? (that’s hypothetical…I’ve no intent to end my life…not yet at least. But if someday I want to, I’d rather not have someone who would argue I shouldn’t have access to an easy, comfortable death “just to be on the safe side”).

For the record, a friend of mine commited suicide as a result of mental illness (schizophrenia), and I understand perfectly his choice, having known him before and after the start of the illness. His life was a wreck. A very hypothetical medical miracle was certainly not worth keeping suffering. I’m very sorry for his mom, that I knew, but alternating between psychiatric hospital, depression, schizoprenic periods, being stunned by drugs, having traded a fit body for an obese one, a smart brain for a dulled one, an active life for a life on the dole in a crappy place, having no job, no love life, no perspectives, being ashamed of himself, living in delusions…Well, no…he shouldn’t have to go through some more decades of this “just to be on the safe side” (just so that perfect strangers who aren’t suffering feel they are on the safe side, more exactly).

(also, when you reserve it to terminal illness, you deny any chance to people like this tetraplegegic who was begging to die and couldn’t until his mom did this awful deed for a mother herself before being tried for murder)

Nobody arguing in favour of euthanasia is stating that it’s “treating” anything. It’s just putting an end to suffering. Life isn’t worth living when it acquires a permanent negative value, when adding a month of life is just making one’s life worst. The question of euthanasia begins precisely when the question of “treatment” ends.

Anyway, you’re known to have an absurdly absolutist stance about suicide, and you probably would oppose euthanasia for someone who would be slowly roasted on coals for the next 20 years, so it’s not like I’m expecting another opinion for you.
As it’s often stated, many people want to make people go through pains they wouldn’t let a mere dog go through. I can’t understand that.

And I do not acknowledge that such a point exists, so I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree.

Easy for you to say.

I agree with every word **clairobscur **has written.

Yes. It is easy for me to say we should keep trying to find better ways to help people with depression, rather than simply letting them kill themselves because we can’t be bothered and it’s easier to let them “end their suffering”.

Encouraging suicide solves nothing and makes noone’s lives better or easier.

Obviously that’s not exactly the result I’m hoping for. But if it comes down to that, then yes.

Yeah, me too. Not too sure about the nature of the mental illness, but he was in and out of mental hospitals for two years, and then there was the whole jumping from the 8th floor thing.

Not me. I think he was a dick for doing this to himself and the people who loved him. (Not to mention those who got to clean up the mess.)

Also, this was very unexpected. Sure, to some degree that was obliviousness on my part, but I’m pretty sure not every second of his life was living hell.

Should a doctor have helped him out and have given the street cleaners a break? Hell no.

The question isn’t whether we physically restrain people so they can’t commit suicide. The question is whether we have doctors help people out.

If people are desperate enough to want to cut their life short by multiple decades, then having to take action themselves against the objections from insensitive assholes like me is the least of their worries.

DIY is also a lot messier, exposes innocents and loved ones to horrible situations, it’s all too easy to “miss yourself” and thereby add a heap of shit to your already (subjectively) unbearable existence…

But most importantly, if somebody’s desperate enough to want to cut their life short and they go to a doctor for help with the dying, they’re going to a doctor. Who’ll try and help them with the living first.

Well, on my mom’s side, I am possibly going to have Alzheimer’s, on my dad’s side Parkinsons doesn’t run, it gallops. I have determined that if I end up with the short stick of both, as soon as I start mentally degrading I am going to go where I can off myself. I am not going to be strapped into a chair, shaking hard enough I can no longer feed myself with no mind or self left. Neither condition is technically terminal or overly painful but it is entirely a quality of life and desire to not cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to maintain a brainless corpse that still technically is alive.

Who is the bigger dick? The person that would compel a permanently suffering person to continue to experience this unending suffering, in order to avoid experiencing any negative feelings of their own? Or the person who experiences this unending suffering, who chooses the only option available to end what truly is hell on earth for them?

It’s hardly “unending” suffering if it eventually ends, now is it?

I don’t think there is a possible policy here that doesn’t have any downsides. No euthanasia for non-terminally ill people means some people will have to suffer more and/or will try to end their lives themselves in suboptimal ways, euthanasia for non-terminally ill people means some people who could have lived a reasonable life will be helped to die.

This morning on the website of a Dutch newspaper:

“The End-of-Life Clinic is reprimanded for the third time within a year, this time because of euthanasia at a 47-year-old woman with a severe form of tinnitus.” (The Google translation is pretty pathetic but you should get the drift.)