Research: Nina

When speaking of incurable diseases and the suffering of patients with mental disorders, two options are made available. The first being euthanasia, the second being physician assisted suicide. Euthanasia is a method of the painless killing of a patient who is suffering a painful or incurable disease. The procedure is take place is a hospitable area and the patient is instructed by doctors and other medical professionals of the results of the procedure. In physician assisted suicide, if approved by a doctor and several other medical professionals, a patient does not necessarily have to suffer from an incurable disease to have approval of participating in the procedure.

There are many differences between both procedures. First, the reason for wanting the procedure. In the case of euthanasia, the patient who is requesting the procedure must have a terminal incurable disease and the family of the patient must agree. In assistant suicide, in Oregon for example, individuals who were of legal age, had the choice of an assisted suicide (Death with Dignity Law). The patient or client did not have suffer from an incurable disease.

Next, the biggest difference is the process of which both procedures occur. In euthanasia, once the patient is diagnosed with the terminal disease, if the doctor suggests or offers euthanasia as an alternative from suffering, the patient will make their decision. If the patient decides to prolong the procedure, he or she will than have to inform their family and complete counseling following up to the procedure. Then, the day of the procedure a drug know as pentobarbital is given to the patient by either IV or injection. Pentobarbital eventually makes the patient unconscious in one to two minutes and shuts down the brain and heart functions.

Next,there are three types of euthanasia, voluntary, non-voluntary, and involuntary. Voluntary euthanasia is done with the patients consent, and the patient understands his or her decision. Non-voluntary euthanasia is when the procedure is conducted on someone who was unable to consent due to their current health condition. In that scenario, another appropriate person, on the patients behalf can make the decision. Lastly, involuntary euthanasia is when the patient or a person is able to give consent but doesn’t and is forced to go through the procedure against their will.

To complete the procedure, there are two options the patient has active and passive. Passive euthanasia is when a medical professional offers strong doses of medication which will eventually become toxic to the patient. Active euthanasia is the use of a lethal substance to end a patients life. Active euthanasia is commonly argued and countered against moral, ethical, and religious reasoning.

On the other hand, in assisted suicide is more self reliant procedure. An individual will be administered a strong prescription of drugs.The patient has to sign a total of six to seven times a consent form for the procedure from the day they sign for the procedure to the day of. The reason for many signatures is so the patient doesn’t feel as though they have to proceed in the operation after changing his or her mind. Alongside the paper work, yet another form is asked to be signed 48 hours prior to the operation. Next, the day of the procedure the participant is given a bottle of prescription pills authorized by a doctor. With a physician alongside him or her, the participant is instructed to take the pills which will slowly put the patient into a deep coma. The patient is allowed to decide when he or she is ready to take the prescription drug.

Another means of difference between euthanasia and assisted suicide is the state of where each procedure can be performed. Active human euthanasia is legal outside the U.S in countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Columbia, and Canada. Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, Germany, and the Netherlands. In the U.S, assisted suicide is legal in Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Hawaii, Colorado, and California.

In the U.S, the states that allow physician assisted suicide have what is called a Death by Dignity law. This law allows terminally ill, qualified adults voluntarily request and receive a prescription drug to hasten their death. One of the most important elements when discussing assisted suicide is the state of mind the patient is in when making the decision. All states that have an active Death with Dignity law require that the patient has no history of extreme mental illness and is competent to make decisions. Though many who believe this counters the right to choose death at your own call, physicians and other medical professionals would not want patients applying for assisted suicide based on a drive of emotions.

When we speak on mental illnesses and strategies to either cope or help an individual, usually appointments of therapy treatments and medications are one of the very first thoughts. Hospital patients who are diagnosed as clinically depressed or extreme levels of anxiety are offered these option to help them through these times of hardships. Then there are patients who suffer from incurable diseases, such as polio and epilepsy, who depend on research and science to one day find a cure and get the help they need. Euthanasia, a practice that has been around as long as the seventeenth century. It has been an argument developed by doctors, state legislators and more for years to not be used as a method of treatment.

Already in the country of Belgium, laws of euthanasia were amended, authorizing doctors to take the life of any child, at any age, who makes the request to be euthanized. As for other places int he world, even with the exception of being terminally ill, euthanasia is not an option. For example in the case of 104 year old David Goodold, and Australian scientists last wish was to die. Due to reason that he was not terminally ill, but his wishes may be granted when he visits the End of LIfe clinic in Switzerland for voulantary euthanasia.

Not many see this as as problem because of his age and the fact that he understands his wishes, in fact many imply that “He has lived long enough to see everything”. Now, if we allow David Goodold to, someone who has no terminal or mental illness, to kill himself via voluntary euthanasia, what could this mean for those hundreds to thousands of other cases where individuals who suffer from depression would like to undergo euthanasia. To understand what the cause would be for allowing assisted suicides, we must acknowledge the other age groups.

Teen suicide is the third leading cause of death in youths between the ages 12 and 19. Up to twenty percent of teens suffer some sort of depression before the age of 24. For many options such as Interpersonal therapy (IPT) and Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). To an extant, not all people can be saved by therapy and interpersonal counseling. Can euthanasia be an option? If a 104 year old can have his wished granted for assisted suicide, why can’t a teen?

If we allowed for assisted suicide in teen and young adults it will cause of number of mass suicide in teens because the option to die is available. This will occur because no one will look to the first alternative options of IPT and CBT when the outcome they want is at the tip of their fingers. Assisted suicide options are seen as “utilitarian” to allow assisted suicide because it respects the decisions and wished of dying or distress patients.

The slippery slope argument is that we want to respect the wishes of those who want to be assisted in their suicide but if we allow euthanasia for the elderly and not the youth, it wont be utilitarian to no respect their decisions. Yet to allow this can lead to mass assisted suicide in teens, young adults, and in elders.

The argument of assisted suicide and its “easy access” to assist people in the alternative to help depression has patients and clinically diagnosed patients on a slippery slope. In Oregon, the “Death with Dignity” law allows individuals to receive doctor prescribed medication and us w the given instructions as followed to complete the procedure of death. Physicians are to be next to the patient as they complete the procedure in case any last minute changes are to come as an inconvenience. A survey was taken in Washington D.C, where over 1335 physicians were eligible to take a survey regarding their position on assisted suicide. Sixty nine percent of physicians completed, the results showed that forty two percent (42%) of physicians say that assisted suicide is never ethically justified, and another forty two percent (42%) disagreed. Out of the sixty nine percent (69%) of physicians that participated in the survey, only thirty three percent (33%) will be willing to perform the procedure.

Physicians argue that if patients are eligible for assisted suicide, it will contribute to the utilitarian ways of the rights of human beings. But, if encourage individuals to choose when they die with no legitimate reason all because it is “utilitarian” is morally unethical. This will lead to a number of people asking for assisted suicide due to a drive of emotions only because the option is available. This practice not only affects the person pursuing the procedure, it passes on the suffering to other similar people, who will fear they are the next person to be seen as having a worthless life. Physicians will counter this argument that their jobs are to be healers and ease pain. Although assisted suicide may help relive a patient of pain and suffering, the role of a healer is incompatible and would cause more harm than good.

Most conversations that surround abolishing the law in places where assisted suicide is legal has been introduced. In Oregon, one of the seven states in America where assisted suicide is legal show fear of the opponents of law who want to abolish the Death with Dignity law. Many are astonished that they will have to face chronic, agonizing, pain rather then the option of assisted suicide. Though facing this dilemma will rise questions about the fate of ill citizens, assisted suicide is a profit driven system. Meaning, insurers and physicians are doing what is the ” cheaper” option rather than a series of expensive treatments and medicine. So, if an insurer were to deny someone of assisted suicide, the only fatal measure is clinics losing money from unperformed operations.

Physicians would continue to argue that Physician Assisted Suicide (P.A.S) is like autonomy and bodily integrity as a marriage or relationship. Patients can determine what they want to commit to and when. On the contrary, this would be giving doctors and specialist the choice of whether or not you are eligible to receive P.A.S. Professionals and legislatures will have the power to choose who lives and who dies. We have the right to pursue life, not to pursue death. Yet another physicians obligation to assisted suicide is that their job is to assist in helping people die more comfortably. Easing the pain through a series of painless options for the procedure. In contrast, the physicians job is to tell the patient whats wrong and offer options of healing. Physicians are not operating the procedures because patients have six months, and even a forty-eight hour reassurance period up to the day of the procedure to decide if P.A.S is a remaining option.


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Dryden-Edwards, R. (n.d.). Teen Depression Facts, Treatment, Symptoms, Statistics & Tests. Retrieved from

Morrow, A. (n.d.). Why Do People Seek Physician-Assisted Suicide? Retrieved from

Draper, B. M. (2015). Suicidal behavior and assisted suicide in dementia. International Psychogeriatrics, 27(10), 1601-1611. doi:10.1017/S1041610215000629

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Diekstra, R. F. W., & DIEKSTRA, R. F. W. (1995). Dying in dignity: The pros and cons of assisted suicide. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 49(1), S139-S148. doi:10.1111/j.1440-1819.1995.tb01917.x

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