Alex Schadenberg.blog 24 July 2015
The British Medical Journal (BMJ) published a “study” on July 28, 2015 examining 100 requests for euthanasia for psychiatric reasons in Belgium.
Four of the six authors of the study are connected to the euthanasia clinic in Belgium.
What did the study find?
The “study” examines 100 consecutive requests for euthanasia at a psychiatric out-patient clinic between October 2007 and December 2011. The analysis of the data closed in December 2012. The data states:
- 77 euthanasia requests were made by woman, 23 were men,
- of the 48 approved requests, 35 died by euthanasia,
- 1 died by palliative sedation (sedation with withdrawal of water),
- the average age was 47,
- 58 were depressed, 50 had a personality disorder,
- 12 were autistic, 13 had post traumatic stress disorder, 11 had anxiety disorder, 10 had an eating disorder, and more
“This rise over a 6-year period may reflect a true increase or better reporting of cases of euthanasia.”
The study continues to suggest that the Belgian euthanasia law is careful. The study states:
Legally, the physician is required to discuss the wishes of the patient with the relatives named by the patient. Consent from the relatives is not required, and the attending physician needs the patient’s permission to inform family members of the euthanasia request.
The study states that:
- 38 people who requested euthanasia for psychiatric reasons were referred for further testing. Out of these, 17 of them were approved for lethal injection and 10 died by euthanasia.
- 62 people who requested euthanasia for psychiatric reasons were not referred for further testing. Out of these, 31 were approved for lethal injection and 25 died by euthanasia.
- 35 of 48 people who were approved for lethal injection died by euthanasia. The 13 people, in this group, who did not die by euthanasia, 8 changed their mind, 2 withdrew their application based on family response, 2 died by suicide and 1 was in prison.
- 65 people did not die by euthanasia. By the end of 2012, 57 were alive, 48 of the 57 cases were on hold based on the person receiving therapy or not needing therapy, 9 of these cases the euthanasia request was still being considered.
- of the 35 people who died by euthanasia for psychiatric reasons, 14 of them were lethally injected by a doctor at the euthanasia clinic.
The study concludes by pointing out that the concept of “unbearable suffering” is subjective and undefined. The study states:
A literature review made clear that the concept of ‘unbearable suffering’ has not yet been defined adequately, and that views on this concept are in a state of flux. It is generally accepted that this concept is considered to be subjective, dependent on personal values, and that it must be determined in the first place by the patient.
Unbearable suffering for psychological reasons is even be more subjective and undefined, as stated by the study:
Unfortunately, there are no guidelines for the management of euthanasia requests on grounds of mental suffering in Belgium.