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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 61 (2019) 4, 241 - 247


Euthanasia of Dutch psychiatric patients in 2015-2017

S.M.P. van Veen, F.W. Weerheim, M. Mostert, J.J.M. van Delden

background The Netherlands is one of the few countries in the world that allows euthanasia and assisted suicide (eas) due to psychiatric suffering. methods In 2015-2017 the Dutch regional euthanasia review committees published 43 case summaries online. Of these, 35 were suitable for analysis regarding patient characteristics and physician involvement, and 3 cases were described in detail.
results In total, 77% of the patients were women and 51% were aged 50-70 years. Major depression disorder and personality disorders were present in almost half of the patients. All patients were considered mentally competent. conclusions Although the incidence of psychiatric eas cases is rising, we found no shift in patient characteristics. The division between psychiatric and somatic suffering may prove more complicated than expected. Patients dying from suicide differ in various ways from patients dying through eas. The fact that all patients are considered competent could mean that they are unjustly seen as being vulnerable or that the competence assessment lacks due diligence.

keywords assisted suicide, euthanasia, psychiatry, the Netherlands, verdicts