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Increasing number of euthanasia requests for mental conditions in Holland

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The number of patients in Holland requesting euthanasia for mental conditions has risen sharply in the last five years, with only 2 in 2010 compared to 56 in 2015. Currently, 4% of deaths in Holland are a result of doctor-assisted suicide.

Of last year’s number, 36 were conducted by doctors from Amsterdam's End of Life clinic, which also assists with suicides in people's own homes. The clinic specialises in requests for euthanasia due to mental health conditions, such as dementia or psychological trauma.

Stephen Pleiter, the director of End of Life, said that it was set up for those who were denied euthanasia by their GPs.

"This is a huge group: those with dementia, the elderly with no clear medical diagnosis and those with psychological problems," he said.

Euthanised for germ phobia

Two cases have been particularly notable. When the End of Life clinic opened in 2012, the first patient was a woman who suffered with a phobia of germs (mysophobia), according to Dr Pleiter.

In order for permission to be granted to assist someone to die in the Netherlands, the request must be made to a doctor who regards the patient as medically untreatable.

The case must also be presided over by an ethics committee which makes the ultimate decision, and they must be satisfied that there is no hope of the condition improving.

The 54-year-old woman who suffered from mysophobia reportedly satisfied this criteria and was killed by lethal injection in her own home.

British MPs speak against euthanasia

It has since emerged that another patient was a sexual abuse victim who was given permission to end her life, though she was only in her 20s. The young woman suffered a variety of mental health problems stemming from the abuse, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

This case has been met with concern by British MPs.

Fiona Bruce MP, who is the chairman of the Parliamentary All-Party Pro-Life Group, said: "This tragic situation shows why euthanasia should never be legalised in Britain. What this woman needed, at a desperate point in her young life, was help and support to overcome her problems, not this option."

Labour MP Robert Feldo said that it "sends out the message that if you are the victim of sex abuse and, as a result, you get a mental illness, you are punished by being killed; that the punishment for the crime of being a victim is death".

Last September an attempt to legalise assisted suicide was defeated by a strong majority in the House of Commons.

Related Links: 
Woman with germ phobia among people euthanised for mental health problems in Holland clinic (Independent)
MPs overwhelmingly reject death bill