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Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 1995 May;49 Suppl 1:S139-48.

Dying in dignity: the pros and cons of assisted suicide.

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  • 1Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences, University of Leiden, The Netherlands.


This paper describes the historical background and the current situation regarding the practice of assisted suicide in The Netherlands. It outlines and discusses what is considered to be the 'golden standard' of conduct for doctors and other health professionals in this area, it describes experiences with the application of this standard and discusses some of the major pitfalls involved. It also describes the results of several empirical studies on the attitudes of the general public, and the nature and magnitude of the practice of assisted suicide in the country. It is concluded that although perfect application of the 'Dutch Protocol' encourages and supports careful and responsible professional conduct regarding assisted suicide and provides satisfactory safeguards both for the patients involved, (potential) survivors and society as a whole, there are many cases where the desired perfection is far from feasible, hence assistance with suicide remains very hazardous. It is also concluded, however, that health care policy makers, as well as professionals, should confront the issue of assisted suicide, since, as the historical development in The Netherlands has shown, repression and denial implicates the worst of all possible scenarios, and does not contribute at all to the primordial goals of a humane health care system: the alleviation of suffering and the prevention of premature death.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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