“It is stressful to kill somebody.” Healthcare professionals experience with euthanasia.

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

A research article by Nancy Preston, a Professor of supportive and palliative care at Lancaster University, published by The Conversation on December 8, outlines studies concerning the experience of medical professionals who participate in euthanasia. 

She reports that it is stressful to kill someone.

Under the subhead “Uneasy relationship,” Preston writes:

Several research studies on assisted dying conducted at Lancaster University have highlighted the practical and ethical challenges for healthcare professionals who are asked by patients to support medically assisted dying. Interviews with medical practitioners often indicate an uneasy relationship for many healthcare workers with this practice.

In [the Netherlands], where both medically assisted suicide and euthanasia are permissible, healthcare workers supporting patients with an assisted death described the work as emotionally demanding, particularly for less experienced professionals. Even when healthcare professionals are trained to support patients in this area, some feel they can do only one or two cases a year.

One doctor interviewed for 
the study said: “I had a colleague who was all for it [assisted dying] and she’s ‘I can’t do it anymore’ because even if you are in favour of it, it becomes a burden when you do it three or four times. It is stressful to kill somebody.”

Some healthcare workers in the study even applied to work in places where assisted dying did not occur. Others were more comfortable being involved but agreed it was never a normal death and they remembered each one.

Preston comments on research related to the conflict with preventing suicide and assisted suicide. She writes:

Interviews with hospice staff in Washington in the US, where a form of medically assisted dying is available, found that they encountered different types of suicide, and felt conflicted and powerless about wanting to prevent suicide on one hand and supporting a patient’s decision on the other.

The assisted suicide lobby is trying to normalize assisted suicide as a form of medical treatment. Even medical professionals who support assisted suicide found it stressful to kill somebody.

The assisted suicide lobby is trying to normalize assisted suicide as a form of medical treatment. But even medical professionals who support assisted suicide found it stressful to kill somebody.

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