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September 2012

13 psychiatric patients were helped to die last year

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Dutch News 25 Sep 2012
A total of 13 psychiatric patients were helped to end their life last year, compared with just two in 2010, according to new figures from the regional euthanasia monitoring groups.
Euthanasia among people in the early stages of dementia also rose last year to 49 cases, double that of 2010. The figures are in line with a general upward trend.
The total number of euthanasia cases rose 18% last year to 3,695 and the number of cases has doubled since 2006, the report said.
The reasons for the increase are not yet known but are being investigated by researchers from the monitoring groups.
Assisted suicide now accounts for 2.8% of all deaths in the Netherlands, researchers from four Dutch teaching hospitals and the national statistics office CBS found earlier this year.
Euthanasia is legal in the Netherlands under strict conditions. For example, the patient must be ‘suffering unbearably’ and the doctor must be convinced the patient is making an informed choice.
The opinion of a second doctor is also required.
http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2012/09/euthanasia_case_rise_steeply.php

Palliative sedation a ‘peaceful way to die’

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Christchurch Press 17 Sep 2012
Within 10 minutes of having her first dose of sedative, Col Pieper’s terminally-ill mother drifts to sleep. A medication pump is set up to continuously give her the sedative midazolam to ensure she stays asleep until she dies. Three and a half days later, she dies peacefully, as she had chosen.
Pieper, a West Coast-based registered nurse, says her mother had originally wanted to be euthanised, but switched her thinking only weeks from death once she learned about palliative sedation. She could choose because she lived in the Netherlands, one of a few countries in the world to legalise euthanasia.
The euthanasia debate has reignited in New Zealand with Labour MP Maryan Street’s End of Life Choice private member’s bill, which she lodged in the ballot box in July. It must be selected before it can be considered by Parliament.
Late last month, Prime Minister John Key faced strong criticism from the medical profession after claiming euthanasia was happening in our hospitals and that he would consider it if terminally ill. Hospice New Zealand’s clinical director, Associate Professor Sandy Macleod, says Key was incorrectly informed but agrees the public has little knowledge of other end-of-life options, such as palliative sedation. ”In euthanasia, you are trying to kill the person.
In palliative sedation, you are trying to kill the intractable symptoms,” Macleod says. “There are plenty of options other than killing people that we have at our disposal.” Palliative sedation is quite common practice in New Zealand hospices when someone is within days of death and suffering distressing, uncontrollable symptoms, such as delirium or extreme breathlessness, he says.
A Christchurch study found a quarter of people dying at the city’s hospice had palliative sedation, he says. In the Netherlands, medical guidelines state a terminally-ill person must be within two weeks of death and suffering unbearable symptoms that are unrelieved by treatment to qualify for palliative sedation. While no such formal guidelines exist in New Zealand, it is discussed in the Palliative Care Handbook.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/7687633/Palliative-sedation-a-peaceful-way-to-die

Support grows for euthanasia

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Dominion Post 14 Sep 2012
Almost 63 per cent of New Zealanders support proposed law changes that would allow ill people to end their lives, a new poll shows.
Today’s results come a day after after Auckland man Evans Mott, 61, was discharged without conviction for assisting his wife to commit suicide.
Labour MP Maryan Street has drafted a member’s bill that would make it legal for people who were terminally ill or suffering from an irreversible disease, to take their own life or have someone help them to die.
The bill has to be drawn from the member’s ballot before it will be debated in Parliament and that could take some time.
A Horizon Research poll released today found 62.9 per cent of respondents supported the move, 12.3 per cent were opposed.
The poll involved 2969 adults who self-selected to participate online between July 5 and 20.
It has a margin of error of 1.8 per cent.
“Watching mom [sic] nurse dad to the end at our home was enough to make up my mind that at some point ending it faster is a kindness,” one respondent wrote.
Men were slightly more likely to be opposed (14.2 per cent) to the law change than women (12.2 per cent) while the level of support was reasonably even between the sexes at 62.6 and 63.1 per cent respectively.
There was also majority support amongst ethnicities with 65 per cent of Maori, Pakeha and Indian people supporting it, 61.5 per cent of Pacific Islanders and 55.3 per cent of Asian people.
Support was particularly high among respondents aged 45-54 (71.6 per cent ) and 55-64 (65.3 per cent).
The majority of people (66.9 per cent) also supported the introduction of End of Life Directives – legal documents that outline a person’s wish for medically assisted death should the issue arise
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/7678617/Support-grows-for-euthanasia