23-year old woman to be euthanized due to poor mental health

16 October 2019

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The 23-year-old is physically healthy

A physically healthy woman, aged 23, is to be euthanised by lethal injection for mental health reasons.

Kelly, who lives in Leuven, Belgium, experienced social anxiety as a teenager and now suffers from various severe mental health problems which have caused her to self-harm, attempt suicide and experience eating disorders.

The young woman applied to die seven months ago after discovering euthanasia was legal for those experiencing poor mental health. Kelly is currently being assessed by Joris Vandenberghe, a local professor.

Euthanasia for mental health

Currently, 510 Belgians have been killed by euthanasia on account of their poor mental health since the country legalised the practice of assisted dying in 2002.

Belgium’s euthanasia law makes no distinction between ‘unbearable’ physical or mental pain.

In order for patients to meet the criteria for euthanasia for poor mental health, they should receive backing from two psychiatrists and one doctor who must agree the patient’s mental health problems are unbearable and untreatable.

Holland and Luxenberg are two other countries which permit euthanasia on the grounds of mental health.

Less compassion for those with mental health problems

SPUC has highlighted this case as a shocking example of the ‘slippery slope’.  Currently one in four Britons will experience poor mental health in their life-time.

Antonia Tully of the SPUC Lives Worth Living Campaign "This is a shocking example of the slippery slope at work once society accepts that, for certain reasons, euthanasia should be lawful. Death is not the answer to Kelly's severe problems. It's hard not to feel that in a country where doctors are licenced to kill, there are fewer resources to treat people with Kelly's illness.

"Kelly has most of her life in front of her. A caring society should be looking at ways of alleviating Kelly's pain. If doctors in Belgium agree that Kelly can be killed, there will be even less compassion for people with profound mental health problems."