Netherlands euthanasia clinic: two year waiting list for euthanasia for mental illness

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

On March 1, 2012, the Netherlands euthanasia lobby launched six mobile euthanasia teams. The euthanasia lobby anticipated that these mobile euthanasia teams would perform 1,000 euthanasia deaths per year.

The mobile euthanasia teams planned to fill “unmet” demand by focusing on euthanasia for people with chronic depression (mental pain), people with disabilities, people with dementia/ Alzheimerloneliness, and those whose request for euthanasia is declined by their physician. 

Janene Pieters reported for the NL Times that there is now a two year wait time for euthanasia for mental illness at the  Euthanasia Expertise Center. According to Pieters, last year the Euthanasia Expertise Center received 3,122 requests for euthanasia representing a 22% increase over the previous year.

Pieters reports that Paulan Starcke of the Euthanasia Expertise Center said:

While the coronavirus pandemic is an easy thing to blame for the increasing waiting times, the crisis was really only part of the problem… According to her, the pandemic caused a maximum delay of two months. 

“Our waiting list is primarily a signal that regular mental health care still does not often seriously respond to a request for euthanasia. We are referred to too often,” 

Patients are referred to the Euthanasia Expertise Center if their regular doctor considers their request too complex to handle themselves. The Expertise Center provided euthanasia to over 60 people with mental health problems last year. Doctors who are not affiliated with the center only did so six times.

The Netherlands euthanasia clinic temporarily shut-down during the Coronavirus crisis. The Euthanasia Expertise Center, which specializes in euthanasia for mental illness and euthanasia for people with dementia or questionable competency, reported that euthanasia deaths increased to 898 in 2019–up from 727 in 2018. 

The 2018 euthanasia report indicates that there were 6,126 reported euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands in 2018. According to theDutchnews.nl news:

Of the cases reported to the committee last year, 146 concerned people with dementia and 67 people had severe psychiatric problems. In 205 cases, patients had multiple problems derived from the ageing process.

I am concerned that in 2018, 205 people were placed into a new category of euthanasia for people who have multiple problems derived from the aging process. This sounds very similar to “the completed life.”

I contend that very few psychiatrists, in the Netherlands, are willing to do euthanasia because it is counter to the role of a psychiatrist who is trained to prevent suicide not provide it.

Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.