How to End a Life

How to End a Life

A year since assisted suicide became legal, only a small number of physicians are willing to perform the procedure, and their numbers are shrinking. Taking a life is harder than they thought.

By Nicholas Hune-Brown | Published by TORONTO LIFE | May 23, 2017 AT 12:27 pm

From article:

Reports have shown that assisted dying is more common among people who are used to being in control. James Downar, a palliative care physician at UHN and a longtime supporter of assisted suicide, says that the requests he’s seen have come from a particular personality type. “It wouldn’t shock anyone to learn that these are often doctors, lawyers, captains of industry, very successful businesspeople,” says Downar.

“These are the people that always get what they want.” Madeline Li has been surprised by how relieved her patients are when they receive permission for a medically assisted death. “It’s the most rapid intervention you can give for end-of-life distress—stronger than any anti-depressant, stronger than any kind of psychological therapy I could have delivered,” she says. For some patients, getting approval for MAID is enough. Of the 32 people assessed at UHN as of April, only 20 had gone through with it.

For some doctors, the aftermath is difficult. Just because doctors are regularly exposed to death doesn’t mean they’re comfortable performing euthanasia. A 2006 study on the emotional effects of physician-assisted death in the Netherlands and Oregon found that doctors often felt isolated and powerless after performing the procedure. At UHN, Li has seen physicians who deal with death on a daily basis break down after conducting a medically assisted death.

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