Irish psychiatrists express concern over safety of mental health patients in light of Assisted Suicide Bill.

Irish psychiatrists have expressed concern over the safety of patients with mental health problems, should Ireland legalise assisted suicide.

Writing in the Irish Times, Chairwoman Prof Anne Doherty and Vice-Chairman Dr Eric Kelleher of the Faculty of Liaison Psychiarty, College of Psychiatrists of Ireland wrote a letter in response to a letter by Canadian doctors Dr Luke Savage and Dr Keily Williams from Alberta who explained how people dying by euthanasia in Canada had increased by 648% in five years.

Referring the point in the letter that discussed the “slippery slope” that follows legalising assisted suicide, the psychiatrists point out that, in Canada, mental illness was “initially excluded from accessing physician assisted suicide and euthanasia in 2016″ but that “it was subsequently argued that this was discriminatory. Canadian legislators must now determine criteria for those with mental illness, and which suicides are to be assisted and which are to be prevented.”

“We acknowledge that this is not what the current Dying with Dignity Bill is proposing. However, it does demonstrate how quickly safeguards can be removed and whether legislation can truly protect the most vulnerable. As psychiatrists, we find this deeply concerning,” they said.

“Mental illness, primarily depression, is common in those with chronic illness and cancer. Certain mental disorders, such as psychotic illnesses and health anxiety, can lead to abnormal beliefs about one’s health or longevity. Feeling suicidal forms part of the diagnostic criteria for borderline personality disorder. If those with such disorders develop a terminal illness as set out in the Bill, they may be especially vulnerable to dying from assisted suicide or euthanasia as a consequence of their mental state,” they continued.

“There is a clear need to invest now in our health service and mental health services to provide timely access to excellent multidisciplinary palliative care, pain services and mental healthcare, so that all patients facing a terminal illness can live and die in dignity.”

The Life Institute’s Don’t Assist Suicide Campaign has gathered the information showing the danger of Assisted Suicide for vulnerable people – and noted that medical opinion is firmly against its’ legalisation.

 

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