Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Letters Assisted dying debate

Let’s get the words right too

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 25 January 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d461

Rapid Response:

Why Physician Assisted Suicide?

I am glad to see that in the ongoing debate on this subject the word
"physician" seems to have slipped silently away.
It is for society in its wisdom to decide whether to support assisted
suicide or not but why should the physical act of assistance in this case
have to involve a doctor.
Strict criteria would have to be introduced to ensure that people who
wished to die were mentally able to discern the implications of their
decision and this would presumably involve a psychiatric opinion. But why
not have a register of "suicide assistants" who would be prepared to help
people kill themselves. I can not see the need for a medical degree to be
a prerequisite for being on such a register as patient safety is not an
issue here.

Competing interests: No competing interests

14 February 2011
Paddy Ross
Retired surgeon
Cape Town, 7945