General Question

Paradox25's avatar

What are your thoughts about assisted suicide for the mentally ill?

Asked by Paradox25 (9900 points ) 2 months ago

Assisted suicide is an issue that is discussed a great deal. When we think of assisted suicide many of us tend to think of those who are terminally ill. There are also people who are not terminally ill, but suffer from debilitating conditions who decide to end their lives via assisted suicide too. Assisted suicide is just that, and the person or doctor assisting the subject does not actually physically take part in the process, but just provides the necessary tools and advice.

The types of people mentioned above would be considered to have a reasonably sound mind though. However, assisted suicide is also allowed in several different countries for the mentally ill as well. Proponents of this legislation state that some people are so ill that they’ll never be a productive member of society, have any meaningful relationships with others, suffer greatly, and will be ridiculed by society in general, so it may be more ethical to allow the patient to humanely end their own lives.

I would have to ask whether you think it’s ethical or not for professionals to assist the mentally ill end their own lives instead of utilizing other options?

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15 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I don’t think I’m a good enough man to answer that. That’s going to take someone wiser than I am.

johnpowell's avatar

All the links in the article point internally or to other right-wing rags.

edit :: I should add that I am against it but the linked article painting it as Europe kills the mentally ill needs some facts that I can’t find.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I think it would depend on a few things. What, exactly, qualifies as “mentally ill”? Does a mentally ill person have to suggest, on their own with no type of suggestion or coercion whatsoever, that they would like to die? If this is actually something real, I can’t see it working out too well.

As sad as I think suicide is, and as someone who has gone through the suicide of my best friend, I don’t think suicide should ever be illegal – unless you’re the parent of minors.

talljasperman's avatar

Being a very old spirit I would welcome death, if just for a change in venue.

johnpowell's avatar

For example: In Belgium, the mentally ill are euthanized–and harvested for their organs.

The link goes here: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/329628/belgian-doctors-brag-about-harvesting-organs-euthanized-wesley-j-smith

From there we get: But it didn’t take the Belgians long after legalizing euthanasia for doctors to do just that, and now they brag about it at medical symposia

That has two links in it: The first is about a woman that read about how to kill herself online and used a plastic bag. The second example in that article again doesn’t discuss mental illness. The second link again doesn’t mention mental illness.

Paradox25's avatar

@johnpowell I was debating which link to use here. I was aware of the right leaning bias, but I had used it because it mentioned the countries using this in one page. Obviously this is happening, so I’d prefer to keep it on topic. Here’s a less biased link http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/557817.

chyna's avatar

How mentally ill would you have to be? Who would make that decision?
Too many variables. I don’t think it would ever be a good thing.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

If informed consent is impossible, I don’t see how it is any different than murder. And there could be a case for genocide.

LornaLove's avatar

Being of ‘sound mind’ might prove to be a dichotomy.

Paradox25's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus I appreciate your response, but on which grounds? Are you opposed to assisted suicide in general, have the belief that the mentally ill can’t make a rational decision regarding such a choice, or something else?

ibstubro's avatar

No.

I admit I skipped the details and the posts. I will likely unfollow the question as well.

No.

28lorelei's avatar

I think this does depend on too many things. I for one will admit that our ability to take care of mental illnesses is in an infantile state. We understand far too little about what specific things are happening how and where in the brain to help these kinds of illnesses as effectively as we would want to. I’d say come back and ask again in another 50 years or more when we’re more knowledgeable on the subject. Then we’ll know what sort of illnesses are easier to treat than others and what the person is actually experiencing better.
“Mental illness” is too broad of a term. It’s like asking what one’s thoughts are about mentally assisted suicide for a “miasma.” I’m not saying you’re at fault, I’m just saying that we still have much to learn about different kinds of mental illness and trying to make judgments like this is quite precarious at this point in time.
But because the patient is not in the right state of mind to answer for this sort of question and because of our uncertainty and precarious position regarding this, I’d have to say no for now, at least in general.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

@Paradox25
No, I am not opposed to assisted suicide. I’m opposed to any medical procedure performed without the patient’s informed consent. If the individual is deemed mentally incompetent, informed consent is, by definition, impossible and therefore the procedure would not only be against all medical ethics, it would also be illegal. I can imagine, however, if that patient had assigned power of attorney to a competent, approved individual while they were still deemed competent, this might possibly suffice to allow the procedure, as we have precedent for this in our hospitals today. But because of the finality and special circumstances of doctor-assisted suicide, more consideration may be required.

I can see where this could happen when there is a positive diagnosis for something like Alzheimer’s Disease—based on empirical evidence such as MRIs/PET scans, blood draws, etc., not just a set of symptoms—which is an affliction we know to have an outcome of overwhelming certainty. But even then I recommend it be brought before a judge by family members, members of the patient’s medical team, and impartial legal and medical people.

This is very dangerous, new ground we’re treading and without firm, well-vetted safeguards this could easily become a way to rid corporate-owned, profit-based hospitals of uninsured, chronically ill patients—or for certain ideologues to “cleanse” society of what they consider “undesirables,” starting with the mentally ill. We must not tread this ground lightly.

There is some precedent in our law when it concerns DNRs (Do Not Resuscitate), but that order is signed while the patient is still considered legally competent. We educate patients all the time about DNR and we tell them that if the order hasn’t been signed by the time they are comatose, they are SOL no matter how many friends and family members claim that the patient repeatedly said that they would never want to live under vegetative conditions. Not good enough. We will not pull the plug until there is a court order to do so, even if, on a personal level, each member of the team wants to. There is good reason for this. But as a precedent for what we’re talking about, I think it’s a stretch.

Unbroken's avatar

Yes. A guarded yes.

What’s good enough for animals should work for us.

I may be predisposed to lean to the left on this one. I find it intolerable that the majority of the US hasn’t legalized assisted suicide for the terminally ill.

It is a mercy in that case so transposing it to cover mental health seems natural. Pain and failure to thrive aren’t just limited to severely disabled, detoriation, and or terminal illness.

I do hesitate because there are so many ways the intent could be misconstrued or twisted to serve an individual or an agenda. All we can do is construct such legislation very carefully put in place safeguards and accept that, as is true for all things, no matter what we do some one will be a victim of it.

If a patient isn’t capable of giving informed consent because of their mental state and that state is more or less stable and the wish consistent then isn’t it informed based on their personal capabilities, rather then societies definition? A beaurcractic paradox.

Paradox25's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus Yes, this seems like a potentially dangerous new path, with the potential for great abuse, especially where there’s a profit incentive involved. I can agree with assisted suicide for those with painful terminal or debilitating illness/disabilities though.

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