Student Author(s)

Jana Sahyouni

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Charles Green, Psychology; Professor Yolanda Vega, Phelps Scholars

Document Type


Event Date



Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are legal in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Colombia, and Canada. Physician-assisted suicide alone is legal in Switzerland and within the U.S. in Oregon, Washington, Montana, California, and Vermont. Public support in the United States and the Netherlands for the “right to die” has steadily increased since 1950. This research seeks to uncover the underlying reasons that patients request euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. Signs of psychological depression and loss of dignity appear to be the main reasons for considering euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. In the United States, requests for euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide correlated most strongly with loss of autonomy, not being able to enjoy everyday life activities, and loss of dignity. In the Netherlands, more than half of euthanasia/physician-assisted suicide cases contained loss of dignity as one of the reasons. In Canada, the desire for death in the terminally ill was higher for people who had higher ratings of pain, lower family support, and depressive symptoms. Of these, depression is the best predictor of the desire to die. Palliative care that respects individual differences and psychological treatment that emphasizes the therapeutic alliance would provide people with more years of meaningful living.

Included in

Psychology Commons