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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 36 (1994) 6

New research

Assisting with suicide in psychiatric patients. Grounds for justification and criteria of due care

M. van der Lijn, W.A. Nolen, W.J. Schudel

Euthanasia for psychiatric patients is still a controversial subject. This article contains firstly a review of the arguments put forward by different groups and individuals as to whether it is justified, following the example of euthanasia in patients with medical illness, in exceptional cases, to give similar assistance to patients who suffer from psychiatric illness.

The criteria of due care based on jurisprudence are then discussed from the psychiatrists point of view. It is concluded that most of these criteria are also applicable in psychiatry. As far as the criterion of peer consultation is concerned, it is argued, in contrast to earlier jurisprudence, that an independent psychiatrist should be consulted to give an opinion on the criteria of mental competence, the unbearableness and hopelessness of the suffering, and possible countertransference aspects.