A 20-something woman was approved to go ahead with euthanasia because she couldn’t live with the suffering of having been abused any longer.
The woman, a former victim of child sex abuse, suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to the Dutch Euthanasia Commission.
She also suffered from anorexia, chronic depression and hallucinations as a result of the abuse.
Under law in The Netherlands, doctors may perform euthanasia on anyone with “unbearable suffering”. Doctors judged the woman to be “totally competent” but said her suffering was incurable.
The case has sparked global controversy, and prompted debate among ethicists. In recent years there has been a rise in the number of euthanasia deaths in The Netherlands due to mental health problems, from two people in 2010 to 56 people last year.
The woman, who was not named but suffered abuse between the ages of five and 15, was given a lethal injection.
Australian psychiatrist and mental health campaigner Professor Ian Hickie told news.com.au that the girl’s euthanasia was “entirely inappropriate”.
He told news.com.au: “It makes all sorts of poorly substantiated assumptions about causation, available treatments, supportive care and prognosis. It really demonstrates how the current concepts around euthanasia cannot be applied to mental illness”.
The idea of assisted suicide for people with mental illness will be debated later this year in Australia at a conference in Melbourne.
If you would like to speak to someone about depression or mental health call Lifeline (131 114) or Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636).