Responding to suffering: providing options and respecting choice

J Pain Symptom Manage. 2009 Nov;38(5):797-800. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2009.09.001.


Voluntary stopping of eating and drinking (VSED) as a legal means to hasten death has been discussed by some as an option for persons who wish to end their lives. A case is presented of a woman who elected to forgo eating and drinking to end intractable suffering. The potential for benefit and harm in physicians discussing VSED is discussed. Physicians working with terminally ill patients need to consider the discussion of VSED as a therapeutic tool in their support and care of patients with intractable suffering.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Drinking
  • Dystonia / complications
  • Dystonia / psychology
  • Dystonia / therapy
  • Eating / psychology
  • Female
  • Hospices
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Management*
  • Palliative Care / ethics*
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*
  • Suicide, Assisted / ethics*
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology