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The Challenges of DIGNITAS in the Future - Part 2: Mentally Competent Individuals suffering from Psychiatric Ailments

October 30, 2018

Contrary to widely-held opinions, people suffering from mental health problems normally have sufficient capacity of discernment to decide whether they would like to continue living or, instead, to end their suffering and life. Therefore, and as a general rule, they are entitled to ask for an assisted suicide and should receive assistance just as much as people suffering from physical health problems. Furthermore, access to this option needs to be made available in order not to expose these people to the high risks associated with failed suicide attempts.

 

But there is a difficulty in Switzerland: a prescription written by a Swiss physician is always required to obtain the medication. Furthermore, in the case of the person suffering from a psychiatric ailment, a special in-depth medical appraisal by a psychiatrist is always required, and it must indicate that the peron's wish to end their life is not a symptom of a treatable psychiatric ailment but is based upon the self-determined, carefully reflected and stable decision of a competent person. 

 

In practice, this means that DIGNITAS is only able to arrange an assisted suicide for someone suffering from a psychiatric ailment if the individual presents, in addition to their formal request with a medical file, the result of that special in-depth medical appraisal, and a Swiss psychiatrist can assess the request and (if appropriate) grant a "provisional green light". Unfortunately, progressive-liberal psychiatrists accepting the concept of self-determinedly ending one's suffering by assisted suicide are quite rare.

 

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