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The troubled 29-year-old helped to die by Dutch doctors


In January a young Dutch woman drank poison supplied by a doctor and lay down to die. Euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide are legal in the Netherlands, so hers was a death sanctioned by the state. But Aurelia Brouwers was not terminally ill - she was allowed to end her life on account of her psychiatric illness.


In a disturbing shift in the criteria for euthanasia, the Netherlands now allows people suffering from 'psychiatric suffering' to opt for assisted suicide.


83 people were euthanised on the grounds of psychiatric suffering. So these were people - like Aurelia - whose conditions were not necessarily terminal.

Euthanasia is against the law in most countries, but in the Netherlands it is allowed if a doctor is satisfied a patient's suffering is "unbearable with no prospect of improvement" and if there is "no reasonable alternative in the patient's situation".


The vast majority of the 6,585 deaths from euthanasia in the Netherlands in 2017 were cases of people with a physical disease. But 83 people were euthanised on the grounds of psychiatric suffering. So these were people - like Aurelia - whose conditions were not necessarily terminal.


The trend is highly disturbing for those on the front-line of medical and psychiatric medicine.


"How could I know - how could anybody know - that her death wish was not a sign of her psychiatric disease? The fact that one can rationalise about it, does not mean it's not a sign of the disease," says psychiatrist Dr Frank Koerselman, one of the Netherlands' most outspoken critics of euthanasia in cases of mental illness.


He argues psychiatrists should never collude with clients who claim they want to die. "It is possible not to be contaminated by their lack of hope. These patients lost hope, but you can stay beside them and give them hope. And you can let them know that you will never give up on them," he says.


Read the full story here

Via BBC News

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