Physician-Assisted Suicide

Oct 24, 2018 | 0 comments

Oct 24, 2018 | Miscellaneous | 0 comments

Physician-Assisted Suicide

According to Cockerham (2004), physician-assisted suicide refers to an aided death in which the physician upon the patient’s request prescribes a lethal dose intended to terminate the life of the patient. The idea has resulted in a heated debate as some people oppose it while others support it.

Circumstances under which physician-aided suicide is appropriate are include when the pain and suffering is too much for the patient to bear, upon the patient’s request and when the pain and suffering cannot be relieved by palliative care.

In justifying the above circumstances, Wolfson (1998) argues that the patient have a right to the control of his or her life. He or she can determine when to die when to remain alive and how much suffering is too much. The physician on the other side have an obligation to do anything within his or her power to relieve the patient of suffering even if it means hastening the death of the patient when another alternative palliative care becomes futile.

When a patient requests for physician-assisted suicide, the physician should respond by discussing with the patient the various ways of addressing his or her pain and suffering such as palliative care, evaluating the patient’s decision-making competence and accessing both the depression and the psychiatric conditions of the patient and treating them appropriately.

The above responses are justified by the oath taken by the physicians never to harm a patient knowingly. By assisting the patient to commit suicide, the physician violates ethic and standards of his or her profession are hence undermining the trust between the physicians and patient (Rieth, 1999).


Cockerham, W. C. (2004). Medical sociology.

Killing of the dying Wolfson, A. (1998, Spring). Public Interest, 131, 50-71.

Rieth, K. A. (1999, October). Nursing Management, 30(10), 20-27.

Upper Saddle River, NJ:Pearson Prentice Hall. Chs. 9 & 11, pp. 185-206, 229-245. ProQuest Links How do we withhold or withdraw life-sustaining therapy?