A new study published in the journal BMJ Open suggests that people with depression and personality disorders are more likely to make euthanasia requests due to unbearable suffering.
Researchers analyzed the euthanasia requests made by 100 individuals—77 women and 23 men—on the grounds of unbearable suffering. Each patient received treatment for psychiatric disorders at outpatient clinics in Belgium between 2007 and 2011 and was analyzed until 2012.
A bit more about their backgrounds: 91 patients were referred to counseling, 73 of them were classified as “medically unfit” to work and 59 of them lived alone. The study revealed that 58 patients were diagnosed with depression (the most frequent diagnosis) and 50 patients suffered from personality disorders.
Out of the patients that required further testing, 13 of them were tested for autism. Of the 13 tested, 12 of them were diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome.
According to the study results, 48 patients requested euthanasia and 35 of those requests were actioned. The 13 remaining requests were cancelled or delayed because patients felt that having the option of euthanasia gave them peace of mind and the drive to keep living.
By the end of the follow-up period in 2012, 43 patients died—six patients took their own lives and one committed suicide because the euthanasia request approval process was taking too long.
Researchers conclude that more studies need to be done to gain a better understanding of euthanasia requests for mentally ill patients.
Thienpont, L., et al., “Euthanasia requests, procedures and outcomes for 100 Belgian patients suffering from psychiatric disorders: a retrospective, descriptive study,” BMJ Open, doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2014-007454, published online July 27, 2015.
Whiteman, H., “Patients with depression, personality disorders most likely to make euthanasia requests, July 28, 2015, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/297348.php