Check For Depression If Requesting Physician Assisted Suicide

Armen Hareyan's picture
Depression and Suicide

The ability of 'Death with Dignity Act' in Oregon state is now questioned because those requesting physician assisted suicide may be depressed at the time of making the request. Therefore, those requesting physician assisted suicide should be checked for depression.

The act passed in 1997 and was aimed at allowing lethally ill patients to choose physician assisted death. The 'Death with Dignity Act' says that a patient should be checked by psychologist and psychiatrist to make sure that his disease is not treatable and that he is not mentally ill, to make sure he has made his decision sensibly.


However, the act was long questioned, because it is very difficult to determine whether a patient should be allowed to choose physician assisted death or no. Besides, there has been 46 cases in 2007 when the patients had never seen a psychologist or a psychiatrist before making the decision.

A team of researchers from Oregon Health and Science University examined 58 Oregonians who were asking a physician an assisted suicide. Researchers conducted numerous tests, such as questionnaires, interviews, to estimate the mental state of patients.

Researchers found that 15 patients suffered from depression at the moment of requesting suicide, 13 suffered anxiety, 42 patients died during the study, 18 patients received lethal drug, because they qualified for the act, 9 patients dies by lethal ingestion. Researchers also estimated that 3 of those who received lethal drugs were suffering from depression.

This study suggests that those requesting physician assisted suicide should be examined in more details to make sure that they don't suffer from depression at the time of making the decision. It suggests that the Act should be changed to protect those with depression. However, there is an opposite opinion from Helen Dowling Institute in the Netherlands, saying that if a patient with lethal illness is declined in suicide request, he will suffer depression sooner or later, indeed, and it is not a question of protecting those with depression, but it is a question of protecting those with serious untreatable diseases.