The euthanasia debate: attitudes, practices and psychiatric considerations

Can J Psychiatry. 1995 Dec;40(10):593-602. doi: 10.1177/070674379504001005.


Objective: To review the current status of the euthanasia debate by examining public and physician attitudes towards euthanasia, the practice of euthanasia in the Netherlands, recent developments in Canada and other countries, psychosocial considerations related to the desire for death in terminally ill patients, and the roles that psychiatrists may be asked to play in the event of legislative reform involving discriminalization.

Methods: A literature review was conducted focusing on recent surveys regarding physician and patient attitudes towards euthanasia, the role of psychiatrists and empirical data pertaining to the mental state of patients who request physician-hastened death.

Results: Psychiatric morbidity among patients requesting physician-hastened death is considerable.

Conclusion: As a special case of suicide, euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are of particular relevance to mental health professionals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Empirical Research
  • Euthanasia / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Euthanasia, Active, Voluntary*
  • Humans
  • Internationality
  • Mental Competency / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Mentally Ill Persons
  • Patient Care Team / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Physician's Role
  • Public Opinion*
  • Suicide, Assisted / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Wedge Argument