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Publication type: Article in scientific journal
Type of review: Peer review (publication)
Title: Reasons why people in Switzerland seek assisted suicide : the view of patients and physicians
Authors: Fischer, S.
Huber, C.A.
Furter, M.
Imhof, Lorenz
Mahrer Imhof, Romy
Schwarzenegger, C.
Ziegler, S.J.
Bosshard, G.
DOI: 10.21256/zhaw-2741
Published in: Swiss Medical Weekly
Volume(Issue): 139
Issue: 23-24
Pages: 333
Pages to: 338
Issue Date: 2009
Publisher / Ed. Institution: EMH Schweizerischer Ärzteverlag
ISSN: 1424-7860
Language: English
Subjects: Right-to-die; Assisted; Dying; Suicide
Subject (DDC): 150: Psychology
362: Health and social services
Abstract: Background: Assisted suicide is permitted in Switzerland provided that assistance is not motivated by selfish reasons. Suicides are commonly performed with the assistance of right-to-die organisations and the use of a lethal dose of barbiturates prescribed by a participating physician. We examined the reasons physicians provided for writing the prescription and the reasons patients gave for requesting assistance in dying. Methods: We analysed all reported cases of assisted suicide that were facilitated by right-to-die organisations between 2001 and 2004 in the city of Zurich, and for which both the medical report and the optional letter written by the decedent providing information on their reasons for seeking assistance in suicide (N = 165). Results: The reasons most often reported by physicians (ph), as well as persons who sought help (p), were: pain (ph: 56% of all assisted suicides, p: 58%), need for long-term care (ph: 37%, p: 39%), neurological symptoms (ph: 35%, p: 32%), immobility (ph: 23%, p: 30%) and dyspnoea (ph: 23%, p: 23%). Control of circumstances over death (ph: 12%, p: 39%); loss of dignity (ph: 6%, p: 38%); weakness (ph: 13%, p: 26%); less able to engage in activities that make life enjoyable (ph: 6%, p: 18%); and insomnia and loss of concentration (ph: 4%, p: 13%) were significantly more often mentioned by decedents than by physicians. Conclusions: Both prescribing physicians and;patients provided with assistance to die quite often mentioned pain and other concerns, many of which were objectively assessable and related to unbearable suffering or unreasonable disability. Concerns referable to autonomy and individual judgement were more often noted by people seeking help than by the prescribing physicians.
Fulltext version: Published version
License (according to publishing contract): CC BY-NC-ND 4.0: Attribution - Non commercial - No derivatives 4.0 International
Departement: Health Professions
Organisational Unit: Institute of Nursing (IPF)
Appears in Collections:Publikationen Gesundheit

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