Psychiatric Euthanasia is a controversial topic that has risen in popularity in recent years, throughout international media, but many, including myself prior to taking bioethics, do not fully understand what it really is. Euthanasia itself is a treatment process many may know from vet’s offices, but in Canada, Belgium, The Netherlands, Columbia, and parts of the United States, it legal for the termination of human life.(Science Direct). For many of these places, euthanasia is only legal for treatment regarding terminal illnesses, for example: Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and certain cancers. Mental Health awareness has exploded recently, and many are now arguing that euthanasia should be legalized for mental illness, but the current debate is: How do we know if suicide is a symptom or treatment option? Click on the buttons down below to explore the different bioethical principles and how they apply to this debate!
Psychiatric Euthanasia is legal in Belgium and the Netherlands and because of the impacts that the loss of human life can have, there are certain regulations that are put into place in order to sustain the most ethical choices. These regulations include The Life End Information Forum(LEIF) and the 2002 Termination on Life on Request Act in the Netherlands. Although these countries legalize euthanasia for psychiatric reasons, most countries do not legalize euthanasia for any reason. The video linked below is the story of Adam Maier-Clayton, a man who advocated for legalization of euthanasia for mental illness after his own struggle with a mental condition that made him feel intense pain with any movement. Watch this video and take a look at some of the questions below!
- One of Adams friends, Catrina, brought up the fact that many people in society often overlook mental illness because it lacks physical representation, what do you think can be done to help de-stigmatize mental health?
- Adam tried many different forms of treatment and none of it worked. He also knew that his condition could not be cured. Due to this, do you think that it is ethical to expand limits of C-14 to people with psychiatric disorders?
- Overall, what parts of psychiatric euthanasia are ethical and which are not?
After analyzing all of the principles of bioethics and all of the research on euthanasia, I have come to the conclusion that psychiatric euthanasia is an ethical form of treatment. By legalizing euthanasia for psychiatric reasons, we are opening up more forms of treatment that can provide a peaceful way of passing, surronded by loved ones, rather than the action of commiting suicide all alone. Although I feel that it is an ethical decision, I do feel that in order to make sure that every patient is competent, boundaries likes those in Belgium should be established: “1) the ability to make and communicate personal choices; 2) the ability to comprehend the information provided; 3) the ability to apply this information to one’s own context and situation; and 4) the ability to reason and deliberate…“1) the patient’s mental competence, as this might be affected by a psychiatric disorder; 2) the requirement for the psychiatric disorder to be incurable, as some (symptoms of) psychiatric disorders tend to change over time; 3) the requirement for the well-considered nature of the request, as a death wish may be a symptom of a psychiatric disorder; 4) the constant and unbearable nature of the psychological suffering, given that a clear definition and an effective assessment instrument are still lacking; and 5) the requirement of the non-alleviability of the psychological suffering(Science Direct)”. With these rules, patients can explore other treatment options and be able to make fully informed decisions about their life. This maximizes the ethical outcomes and minimizing the possible non-ethical results. I hope that you are able to draw your own conclusions from this information, and I hope you learned more about bioethics!