Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia

In Ireland, as in many other countries, the question has arisen as to whether doctors may become involved in ending patients’ lives, either directly (euthanasia) or indirectly (physician-assisted suicide). A related question is whether the law should ever compel them to do so. There are medical, psychological, and social implications to the direct and indirect ending of the lives of seriously ill and vulnerable people. Allowing doctors to assist in the suicide of their patients represents a fundamental and irreversible shift in medicine’s philosophy and practice. Acknowledging the psychological distress often associated with the end of life, and because of the unintended consequences of permitting euthanasia and assisted suicide, the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland (CPsychI), as the representative professional body of psychiatrists in Ireland, has produced this position paper.

For many reasons, detailed in this document, the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland believes that the practice of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia (PAS-E) is opposed to good medical care and is opposed to the provision of physician-assisted-suicide and euthanasia.