Monday 18 January 2021

Psychiatric patients requesting euthanasia are more often women: study

Photo: DutchNews.nl

Large-scale research into euthanasia requests made by psychiatric patients shows women are over-represented, Trouw reported on Tuesday..

The figures were collated by the Euthanasia expertise centre at the request of the health ministry which wants to gain an insight into the growing number of psychiatric patients seeking assisted suicide, the paper said.

Some 1,700 out of 3,500 requests made between 2012 and 2018 were looked at, in what is the largest study of its kind in the Netherlands.

The research found six in 10 requests came from women, who were more often suffering from depression. Men, by contrast, were more likely to have addiction related problems. Women typically also have a lower level of education, the figures show.

Further research is needed, for instance into the position of women in society, psychiatrist Sisco van Veen, told the paper.

‘The role of gender and gender stereotypes could explain much. Recent research shows, for instance, that ‘manly’ men have a higher suicide risk. It may be that not being able to open up emotionally – no matter how socially accepted that is – can play a part,’ Van Veen said.

The study shows that half of people who make a request decide not to go through with it. ‘This demonstrates how important it is to talk about death. It is not always the last resort,’ the centre’s director Steven Pleiter said.

Just under 10% of the people whose cases were studied for the research project went on to have euthanasia while 59 people committed suicide.

According to the Dutch law, euthanasia can be granted to people who are experiencing unbearable physical or mental suffering and for whom no treatment possibilities are left.

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