Dozens of psychiatric patients on waiting lists for euthanasia: report

Many doctors in the Netherlands are not willing to provide euthanasia to people with psychological problems. As a result, the seven psychiatrists at the Expertise Center Euthanasia are flooded with patients. The waiting time for a euthanasia trajectory for psychiatric patients is currently more than a year. And there are around 100 people on the waiting list, the Expertise Center Euthanasia told Trouw.

Gerty Casteleen, a psychiatrist at the Expertise Center Euthanasia, formerly called the End of Life Clinic, described the waiting time as "dramatic". The reason for the influx is that fewer and fewer psychiatrists are willing to grant euthanasia, Casteleen said. The Expertise Center has work for 20 psychiatrists, but only employs seven because it is impossible to attract new employees, he said.

This year a total of 800 psychiatric patients reported to the clinic with a request for euthanasia, compared to 692 last year. Only a small group actually qualify. According to Casteleen, 90 percent of patients dropped out after their first interview. Many people abandon their request once they were able to seriously discuss it with a doctor, the expertise center said. 

Elnathan Prinsen, chairman of the Dutch Association for Psychiatry, called the waiting time "too long for someone who is suffering unbearably". But he also understands the "restraint" of many psychiatrists, he said to Trouw. According to him, it is difficult to determine whether someone really exhausted all treatment possibilities, and whether the wish to die is not a symptom of the disorder.

Last year the Expertise Center Euthanasia gave euthanasia to 56 people with psychological problems. Doctors outside the center provided euthanasia to 11 psychiatric patients.