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Psychosomatics. 1995 Sep-Oct;36(5):445-57.

Patient requests for euthanasia and assisted suicide in terminal illness. The role of the psychiatrist.

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  • 1Division of Psychiatry, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.


Psychosocial assessment and treatment are critical elements of care for terminally ill patients who desire hastened death. Most patients, in saying that they want to die, are asking for assistance in living--for help in dealing with depression, anxiety about the future, grief, lack of control, dependence, physical suffering, and spiritual despair. In this article, the authors review current understandings of the psychiatric aspects of requests by terminally ill patients for assisted suicide and euthanasia; describe an approach to the common problems of physical, psychological, social, and spiritual suffering encountered in managing dying patients; and elaborate the functions of the psychiatrist in addressing these problems.

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