A new study from the British Medical Journal has found that one in four terminally ill patients in Oregon who opt for physician-assisted suicide suffer from clinical depression:
Oregon’s physician-assisted suicide law may not adequately protect the one in four terminally ill patients with clinical depression, a new study says.
The Death with Dignity Act was passed by the state in 1997, and there’s been intense debate about the extent to which potentially treatable psychiatric disorders may influence a patient’s decision to hasten death, according to a news release about the study, published online Oct. 8 by the British Medical Journal.
The act does contain several safeguards to ensure patients are competent to make the decision to end their life, including referral to a psychologist or psychiatrist, if there’s concern that a mental illness may be impairing a patient’s judgment. However, depression is often overlooked in mentally ill patients . . . .
While most patients who request physician-assisted suicide do not have a depressive disorder, the study authors suggested that “the current practice of Death with Dignity Act may not adequately protect all mentally ill patients.”