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Psychosomatics. 2009 May-Jun;50(3):185-91. doi: 10.1176/appi.psy.50.3.185.

Distinguishing among irrational suicide and other forms of hastened death: implications for clinical practice.

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  • Division of Humanities in Medicine, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY, USA. cpl@cpleeman.net



The increasing recognition that not all hastened death is irrational challenges clinical practice.


The author distinguishes among the various forms of hastened death. Psychiatrists may be consulted when patients ask to hasten their death in any of the ways described, contrasted, and illustrated in this article.


The rational desire to hasten death may call for unconventional psychiatric responses. The author discusses the error of failing to provide life-saving medical treatment over the objection of someone who has attempted suicide and the error of trying to prevent rational persons suffering from incurable illness from hastening their death.

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