Sociology Index

Euthanasia - Assisted Suicide

Altruistic Suicide, Egoistic Suicide, Anomic Suicide

Euthanasia refers to the practice of ending a life in a painless manner. The Greek term Euthanasia means "good death": eu- (good) + thanatos (death). Doctor-assisted euthanasia was declared legal in Switzerland in 1937, as long as the doctor ending the life had nothing to gain.

Extreme suffering makes an individual feel the way to find escape is suicide. It would be similar to fatalistic suicide because the individual considers himself condemned by fate or doomed.

Euthanasia is defined as a deliberate act undertaken by one person with the intention of ending life of another person to relieve that person's suffering.

Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide have been in controversy for a long time. Clarence Darrow and Jack London advocated for the legalization of euthanasia.

'Aid in Dying' Euthanasia Movement Takes Hold in Some States. - By ERIK ECKHOLM - The New York Times, FEB. 7, 2014. - Advocates, who have learned to shun the term “assisted suicide,” believe that support for what they call the “aid in dying” movement will grow further. Advocates are strongly promoting “death with dignity” bills in Connecticut and other states.

Involuntary euthanasia occurs where an individual makes a decision for another person incapable of doing so. There is also euthanasia machines available for voluntary euthanasia.

Euthanasia may be passive and active. Passive euthanasia occurs where common treatments are avoided knowing that it may also result in death. Passive euthanasia is a common practice in most hospitals. Active euthanasia occurs with the use of lethal substances to kill and is controversial.

The term "assisted suicide" is contrasted with "active euthanasia." Nazis conducted a "euthanasia program" based on eugenics and grounded in the view that the state is responsible for providing racial hygiene.

Prevalence and Content Analysis of Guidelines on Handling Requests for Euthanasia or Assisted Suicide in Dutch Nursing Homes, Ilinka Haverkate; Martien T. Muller; Mirjam Cappetti; Freerk J. Jonkers; Gerrit van der Wal - Arch Intern Med. 2000;160:317-322. 
The growing number of requests for euthanasia or assisted suicide makes it imperative for health care institutions to have written guidelines on how to handle requests for euthanasia or assisted suicide.

Assisted Suicide, Suffering and the Meaning of a Life
Miles Little, Department of Surgery, University of Sydney, Sydney, 2006, NSW, Australia.
Abstract: Advocates usually invoke the ending of intolerable suffering as one justification for euthanasia of this kind. The euthanasia discourse needs to take some account of the meaning we construct for our lives.