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Assisted Suicide Cases Reveal Worrying Trends Among Dutch, Says Study

Update Date: Feb 15, 2016 02:07 AM EST

The laws that allow euthanasia or assisted suicide even justify the psychiatric patient's decision to end their lives, theoretically. However, in execution, this practice can be very messy, said a Netherlands study.

It was common to see disagreements among doctors and complicated medical histories within Dutch psychiatric patients who chose euthanasia, said the researchers who examined these cases. "When you actually try to implement it even in a setting where there is excellent healthcare, there are a lot of red flags that need to be investigated further," said lead study author Dr. Scott Kim, a psychiatrist and bioethicist at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

In some form, assisted death is legalized in Belgium, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Canada and a few U.S. states, Kim and his colleagues write in JAMA Psychiatry.

"In Belgium and The Netherlands they have a much more expansive law that doesn't regard diagnosis as important," Kim told Reuters Health. Due to ambiguity in law, the rule also becomes applicable to patients that have psychiatric disorders.

For the purpose of the study, the researchers analyzed cases of assisted suicides. There were 66 summaries of legalized assisted suicide of psychiatric patients between 2011 and 2014. 1/3rd of these people that ended their lives were 70 years and older, 44% were between 50 and 70 years and 1/4th were between 30 and 50 years. 70% of these cases were women.

55% of these patients suffered from depression and the others constituted other forms of diseases such as PSTD, eating disorders, autism, psychosis, pain without any physical reason etc.

As per the findings of the research, one in 10 patients did not get any input from psychiatrists outside and quarter cases showed differences in doctors that were treating the patients. As per Dr. Applebaum, he wrote in his editorial that the findings "raise serious concerns about the implementation of physician-assisted dying for psychiatric patients," reports Reuters

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