November 12, 1997

Physician-Assisted Suicide: The Dutch Case

Author Affiliations

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention New York, NY

JAMA. 1997;278(18):1492-1493. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550180042028

To the Editor.  —In her review of my book,1 Dr Ganzini has given an inaccurate account of what I have written. She says I object to Dutch psychiatrists offering opinions on cases they have not seen while I then make recommendations in the same cases. Only 1 such case is described, but it was important because it established that in the Netherlands mental suffering without physical illness could be sufficient justification for physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia.A psychiatrist assisted in the suicide of a physically healthy 50-year-old woman whose son had died shortly before her request for assisted suicide. Consultants, asked for an opinion prior to her death, felt it was not necessary to see the patient. The psychiatrist involved spent 7 hours presenting the case to me because he wanted my response. I made a few suggestions about how the patient might have been helped, most notably that