April 2016

Physician-Assisted Death for Patients With Mental Disorders—Reasons for Concern

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, New York, New York
  • 2New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York

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

JAMA Psychiatry. 2016;73(4):325-326. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.2890

Physician assistance to help people end their lives—by prescribing or directly administering medication—is now legal in some form in 4 American states, Canada, and 4 European countries.1 In the United States, laws permitting physicians to write prescriptions for medications intended to end patients’ lives are limited to patients with terminal conditions and preclude physician administration of the medication. However, other countries, including the Netherlands, allow direct physician involvement and have expanded the criteria to include patients with irremediable suffering, whatever the cause. Therefore, the door has been opened for people whose suffering is primarily due to mental disorders to seek assistance in dying.

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