Bioethicists have for several decades discussed whether Physician Assisted Death (PAD) can be distinguished from other forms of suicide. The question is of critical importance for suicide prevention initiatives in countries where PAD is legal, as it may be the case that the practice of PAD is undermining the work of organisations committed to reducing suicide rates.
A major intervention into the debate was made late last year by the American Society for Suicidology (ASS) — the peak association in the United States that advocates for suicide prevention — when the organisation released a statement declaring that “suicide is not the same as “physician aid in dying”.
Yet three US psychiatrists have just published scathing critique of the statement in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, arguing in particular that the practice of PAD for psychiatric disorders is in many cases very difficult to distinguish from other forms of suicide.
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