Conceiving the unconceivable: ethical and clinical concerns over assisted suicide for people with mental disorders

Assisted suicide laws abandon vulnerable people and remove society’s care at a time when it’s needed most.  Legalizing assisted suicide perpetuates the idea that some lives are not worth living and where do you logically draw the line?

But we need look no further than America to see how these laws abandon vulnerable patients because the supposed safeguards are hollow and unenforceable.   People with mental illness receiving lethal prescriptions is happening right here in the US.  For example, a man named Michael Freeland who had a 40 year history of suicide and depression and was able to get the medication.

“An emphasis on suicide prevention from a public health perspective seems to be somewhat hard to reconcile with the fully implemented or pending legalization of euthanasia or assisted suicide for those countries simultaneously equipped with social and health policies established for the specific purpose of preventing suicide. Considering the specific role of psychiatry in preventing suicide, put in very simple terms the question is: what is the point of psychiatrists trying in every way possible to prevent suicide if the person concerned is entitled by law to seek assistance to commit this action?

…Some authors have criticized the assumption according to which a physician will always act in the interests of their patients, mostly because it fails to consider the doctor’s unconscious, and at times conscious, desire for the patient to die and alleviate distress for all concerned, including the physician…

One of the most frequently cited consequences of countertransference is over-identification with the patient, giving rise to a so-called ‘pseudoempathy’, a condition resulting in the physician experiencing the feeling that the patient’s suicidal wish is ‘normal’ and that they would feel the same way…

To cite the words of Appelbaum: “… will psychiatrists conclude from the legalization of assisted death that it is acceptable to give up on treating some patients? If so, how far will the influence of that belief spread?”
Read the full journal article here…
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