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From The JAMA Network
August 9, 2016

The Controversial Issue of Euthanasia in Patients With Psychiatric Illness

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Psychiatric Emergency and Acute Care, Lapeyronie Hospital, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Montpellier, University of Montpellier, INSERM U1061, Montpellier, France

Copyright 2016 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA. 2016;316(6):656-657. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.9883

A main objective of legalization of euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide (EAS) is to ease suffering (ie, physical pain and loss of autonomy elicited by an irreversible serious disease), when a terminally ill patient's pain is overwhelming despite palliative care.1 It implies that there is no reasonable alternative in the patient’s situation, with no prospect of improvement of a painful condition or global functioning. Because mental disorders are among the most disabling illnesses, requests for EAS based on unbearable mental suffering caused by severe psychiatric disease may possibly increase. EAS may be differentiated from suicide because EAS results in death without self-inflicted behavior, yet both are driven by a desire to end life. This raises the question: Should the management of patients with psychiatric disorders requesting EAS be considered for suicide prevention?

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