What is Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide?
Deaths are already harsh enough but if they are accompanied by a situation where one has to decide between life and death, it becomes a nightmare.
Euthanasia and assisted suicide are both acts of ending a person’s life to relieve suffering. Both are illegal in India as well as in places like the UK.
Currently, voluntary euthanasia and/or doctor-assigned suicide is legally available in parts of Australia, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Switzerland, and several US states.
What is Euthanasia?
The act of ending a person’s life to relieve their suffering is called euthanasia. There are different types or forms of Euthanasia.
Voluntary, Non-Voluntary, and Involuntary Euthanasia:
- Voluntary euthanasia is when a person makes a conscious decision to die and asks for help to do so.
- Non-voluntary euthanasia is where a person who is unable to give their consent (for example, because they are in coma) and another person takes the decision on behalf of the patient.
- Involuntary Euthanasia is performed on a person who would be able to provide informed consent, but does not, either because they do not want to die or because they were not asked. This is called murder, as it’s often against the patient’s will.
Active and Passive Euthanasia:
- Active euthanasia is when someone deliberately uses lethal substances to end a patient’s life.
- Passive euthanasia is when life-sustaining treatments are withheld. If a doctor prescribes increases doses of strong painkilling medications, this may eventually be toxic for a patient.
What is Assisted Suicide?
Assisted suicide is the act of deliberately assisting or encouraging another person to kill themselves. For example, intentionally providing drugs to a person knowing they intend to use it to kill themselves may be considered as assisted suicide.
How many people die each year?
Between 0.3 percent to 4.6 percent of all deaths are reported as euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide in jurisdictions where they are legal. In Oregon and Washington state, less than 1 percent of licensed physicians write prescription for physician-assisted suicide per year. More than 70 percent of cases involved patients with cancer.
Euthanasia and assisted suicide is arguably the most controversial topic in the legal and medical system. In the religious community, suicide is shunned. An argument remains that the patient is being selfish by just thinking about themselves and not about their loved ones. In the end, no matter which side society believes is right or wrong, it is ultimately up to the patient to make the decision on whether or not their illness is worth suffering through the pain in the places where euthanasia is legal.
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information.
- US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, ‘Attitudes and Practices of Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide in the United States, Canada, and Europe’, official website (accessed on 21st April, 2020)
- National Health Service, ‘Euthanasia and assisted suicide’, official NHS website (accessed on 21st April, 2020)
- My Death My Decision, ‘Assisted Dying In Other Countries’, official website (accessed on 21st April, 2020)