Psychiatrists: ‘Killing the depressed is not the sign of a caring society’

Four psychiatrists have called for mental health patients to continue to be offered hope instead of euthanasia.

In a joint letter to The Guardian, the UK professors highlighted the story of 29-year-old Zoraya ter Beek who has been approved for euthanasia under Dutch law on the grounds of ‘unbearable suffering’ from mental conditions, including chronic depression.

The psychiatrists warned that such examples demonstrate how euthanasia laws can expand beyond physical suffering, as the Netherlands allows children and those who are “tired of life” to end their lives. Since the country introduced euthanasia in 2002, the number of reported cases has increased dramatically from 1,882 to 8,720 in 2022.


The group told The Guardian how “value-laden many psychiatric diagnoses are and how nebulous a term such as ‘unbearable suffering’ must remain. The hopelessness of people with depression will seem to make their suffering unbearable, but clinicians must provide hope.”

To say that ‘assisted dying’ is the way to go is to promote suicide and to contradict the ethos of a genuinely caring society.

They added: “Allowing euthanasia for mental health problems suggests a conflict between the policy of suicide prevention and a policy of suicide promotion.

“To say that ‘assisted dying’ is the way to go is to promote suicide and to contradict the ethos of a genuinely caring society.”


Earlier this year, the Canadian Government was once again forced to push back plans to allow those with mental health problems help to kill themselves.

Since legalising so-called Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) for certain circumstances in 2016, Canada has already abolished the requirement for a person to be terminally ill.

The expansion of the legislation to those who suffer from mental health problems has now been pushed back to 2027, after Canada’s Minister of Health Mark Holland admitted that the Government has heard “loud and clear that the health system is not yet ready”.

Also see:

‘Why I shredded my Dignitas membership’

Belgium: Insurance boss backs euthanasia for elderly to save money

Times readers slam columnist Parris for pressuring elderly and infirm to kill themselves

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