Assisted Suicide, Depression, and the Right to Die

Psychol Public Policy Law. 2000 Jun;6(2):467-88. doi: 10.1037/1076-8971.6.2.467.


The debate surrounding the legalization of assisted suicide continues despite a limited body of empirical research. Relatively few studies have addressed interest in assisted suicide or the desire for hastened death (rather than approval of legislation) among medically ill patients, and this literature is plagued by methodological limitations. In general, this research has demonstrated a significant association between depression and desire for death; however, the magnitude of this association is unclear. Nevertheless, psychological and social factors have typically appeared more influential in determining patients' desire for death than physical symptoms such as pain. The impact of these findings on future legislative efforts to legalize assisted suicide is discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Attitude to Death*
  • Depressive Disorder*
  • Empirical Research
  • Euthanasia / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Euthanasia / psychology
  • Humans
  • Legislation, Medical
  • Motivation
  • Public Opinion
  • Right to Die / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Suicide, Assisted / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Suicide, Assisted / psychology*
  • Terminally Ill
  • United States