A Swiss study, published in the journal European Psychiatry, found that “witnessing death by assisted suicide impacts the mental health of family members and friends.”
Researchers conducted a cross-sectional survey of 85 family members or close friends who witnessed an assisted suicide facilitated by the organization Exit Deutsche Schweiz in Switzerland, where the practice is legal if done for “unselfish” motives.
Researchers assessed the respondents 14 to 24 months after the assisted suicide. The results showed that about 20% of those surveyed had full or partial post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), 16% had symptoms of depression, 6% exhibited anxiety symptoms, and 4.9% experienced “complicated grief.” “Witnessing the unnatural death of a significant person,” researchers concluded, “seems to have a strong impact on the bereaved, which may lead to severe mental health problems.…” [European Psychiatry, 2/11/11]
PRC consultant Wesley J. Smith put the study’s findings in perspective. “By way of comparison: 11% of American soldiers serving in Afghanistan have PTSD, and 20% of Iraq veterans,” he wrote. “So, witnessing assisted suicide would appear to be equivalent in upset to serving in war zones.” [Human Exceptionalism Blog, National Review, 11/24/14]
[Update 074, Volume 28, Number 6 (2014-6), Patients Rights Council; http://www.patientsrightscouncil.org/site/update-074-volume-28-number-6-2014-6/ ]