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Society: Mental Health and Welfare

Many societal issues create discussions and disputes across the world. One of these social issues is euthanasia. It is closely related to a concept of physician-assisted suicide (PAS). Since the question of euthanasia’s place in the healthcare practice first arose, there have been many types of research and media publications covering the topic. While some of them disagree with the practice, many others believe that it is indeed a justified course of actions in some situations. Resolving this argument may significantly improve community’s well-being as well as mental health of its members.

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Euthanasia as a Social Issue

As mentioned in research by Radbruch et al. (2016), the discussion on euthanasia and its justifications first came to light in 1991 in the European Parliament. This argument then resulted in numerous debates across Europe. To better understand why this topic received such broad coverage, one has to first understand the concept of euthanasia and PAS.

While both euthanasia and PAS suicide have a goal of putting patient’s suffering to an end by medically stopping their body functions, the core difference between the two concepts lies in the person performing the action (Sade, 2016). Euthanasia is carried out by the patient’s close ones who decided that the patient cannot or must not endure the pain any longer. Therefore, they allow physicians to end the patient’s life by different means that result in peaceful and painless passing away. In case if there is nobody the patient could rely on, physicians may decide to do the same and relieve the patient from their suffering via terminal sedation (Boudreau, 2014).

Emanuel, Onwuteaka-Philipsen, Urwin and Cohen (2016) conclude in their research on euthanasia and PAS that “In most developed countries there have been high levels of public support for euthanasia and PAS over the last 30 years but more limited support among physicians” (p.87).

Values Correlating to Euthanasia

Many researchers approach the discussion on euthanasia and PAS from the moral and ethical standpoint. Some believe that nobody is allowed to decide whether it is time for a person to pass away or not, despite the person’s current state and whether or not it is unbearable. Others argue that the topic must not be approached this way in the first place. It is not the question of human’s ability to decide for others; it is a question of human’s ability to help each other even if it means to take a life. Of course, it is not a simple task to decide if taking a life may resolve anything at all.

However, this question is one of the cornerstones of human progress and evolution as a society. If this issue is adequately resolved, the mental health of people across the world may improve because there will be no more need for somebody to deal with such terrible decisions. It is needless to say that this will also increase the society’s welfare.

Different Professions Contribution

Naturally, the most important profession that must be involved in this discussion is healthcare practitioners. Further discussion may benefit from drawing the attention of psychologists, social workers, people engaged in education, and even philosophers. Each of these professions’ representatives may provide an interesting and fresh perspective on this matter which will allow finding a better solution in shorter terms. If at least some of the people of these professions are engaged in the debate, the question of euthanasia and PAS being a justified mean to an end may occur much faster.

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As of now, there is no simple answer to this societal problem. Some cultures allow euthanasia and PAS as medical practices; others strictly prohibit it because of various reasons which differ from religious beliefs to cultural peculiarities. However, the debates on this topic are still in full swing, and there is no way to predict how soon (if ever) the solution will be found. If it is eventually discovered, society can greatly benefit from it.


Boudreau, J. D. (2014). Euthanasia and assisted suicide: A physician’s and ethicist’s perspectives. Dovepress, 4, 1-12.

Emanuel, E. J., Onwuteaka-Philipsen, B. D., Urwin, J. W., & Cohen, J. (2016). Attitudes and practices of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Journal of the American Medical Association, 316(1), 79-90.

Radbruch, L., Leget, C., Bahr, P., Müller-Busch, C., Ellershaw, J., Conno, F., & Berghe, P. V. (2016). Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide: A white paper from the European Association for Palliative Care. Palliative Medicine, 30(2), 104-116.

Sade, R. M. (2016). It takes a heart to save a family. Annals of Thoracic Surgery, 102(6), 1782-1783.

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