Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The right to suicide for the mentally ill?

Great article by medscape.

Apparently, Switzerland is the most lenient country in the world for allowing assisted suicide; it's been legal there since 1918. And now, they are extending this even further.
"It [Switzerland] remains the only jurisdiction that allows nonresidents to terminate their own lives.[3] It is also the only jurisdiction that does not require that a physician be involved in the process.Now, a recent decision by the Swiss Federal Supreme Court threatens to undermine yet another longstanding taboo in the debate over assisted suicide and euthanasia. In its ruling on November 3, 2006, the high tribunal in Lausanne laid out guidelines under which, for the first time, assisted suicide will be available to psychiatric patients and others with mental illness.[4]"
The latest case involves a bipolar man who had 2 previous suicide attempts, and brought his case to court because he could not find any physician who would prescribe him a lethal dose of sodium pentobarbital. His argument:
"as the plaintiff argued before the Swiss high court, in challenging "medical paternalism," we are entering an era during which psychiatric patients do not need to be protected, but empowered.[11] Our goal should be to maximize the options available to the mentally ill."
If I were working in Switzerland, my job would probably be much more complicated. Imagine getting sued for keeping someone alive!


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