Preliminary information:

I have asked the question What age was the youngest person without any illness to die by euthanasia by own sane willingness? [closed] in the History Stack Exchange site and was told in a comment that it should perhaps be asked here because it is a political topic. As such I have adapted the question to try to make it suitable and edited as requested in comments below.

I understand the nature of euthanasia being controversial/debatable as it is quite a complex subject. There are different types. Voluntary, non-voluntary and involuntary, each with the variants of passice and active, and assisted suicide being similar but different as it is done by the person themselves.

Few places have it legalized. And while there are cases of it being practiced, my question is specific.

Actual question:

Is there any place in the world where someone who does not suffer from any physical nor psychiatric problem can actually decide to painlessly end their life through a legal process where they aren't the ones doing it but someone else administerating it to them (for example, first being put into an unconscious state and then having their life taken), from their own proven sane choice regardless if they have a socially highly accepted moral reason such as friends/family dying, having a lonely life, etc?

Have there ever been any cases like that which I have described?

Further details:

As the process of it being accepted legally is quite extensive and requires valid reasons to be considered, my question focus on what other reasons have ever been accepted or if they're actually considered at all. Without exhausting it nor going too in depth into long detailing, some examples of reasons that I can think of are the person:

  • having some sort of religious belief that conducted them to make such decision.

  • desiring to not go through a painful death whenever it does happen and so wishing to make it as painlessly as possible while they can decide beforehand.

  • having thoroughly decided rationally that life is not worth enduring even after considering all aspects (that they know of) of the spectrum of the positive and negative sides of existence.

I believe I should stress the fact that I'm asking about it specifically in a legal way (permitted by law), active (death administered by someone other than the one dying) and intentional (the person dying having requested it by their own sane wishes without having being forced by anyone nor being drunk or drugged).

I have attempted to close as many loopholes as I could but any request for clarification, suggestions, improvements, doubt of meaning and others things about the question are appreciated in the comments bellow.

Caveat notice:

This is not a question that should be treated as any sort of suicide attention seeking. It is merely a question out of curiosity, knowledge and philosophical interest (though the question itself in this form not being suitable for Philosophy Stack Exchange) which I can not find information about, and don't know where else or how else to search/ask about (specially without worrying anyone). If still in doubt please explain how else I could learn about it.

  • 3
    it depends on what you mean by trauma. In Holland, there was a case 2-3 years back where a woman was deeply depressive, having lost her husband and child and did not want to continue living. she successfully petitioned for the procedure, and, yes, it was controversial. she was certainly in no physical risk at the time, and did feel life was not worth living, but one could certainly argue that she had been traumatized. would she be in the scope of your question, or fall within your justified-by-PTSD slot? which is excessive to what most people support euthanasia for, IMHO. Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 14:56
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica That does sound like it falls IMO into what I tried to describe as a serious case of someone deciding to and using as reason a traumatic event that happened in their life. I'm not sure how to define "traumatic" without mistakenly restricting some cases that might be desired as an answer. That case is not exactly what I'm seeking but is nevertheless interesting to know of. Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 15:18
  • 1
    but I would argue that she goes in the 3rd bucket "life not worth" living. I am very uneasy about the procedure being extended to non-physical issues, because that does blur the line with suicide. I want euthanasia to be available, yes, including non-terminal patients that are either in massive pain or paralyzed or the like. I don't want the slippery slope of "doesn't feel like living" because that harms the passage of euthanasia laws. If you are surprised by this case, which made the news, which other cases do you have in mind where trauma, not physical, was successfully invoked? Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 15:25
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica I don't know of any euthanasia cases. I think that what I'm trying to seek is if someone that wasn't physically nor clearly/visibly mentally considered to be suffering has ever managed to go through such process. For example, if someone who seemed just as alright as most other civilians but intended to not exist anymore had any possibility to do so legally, or if they would be "forced" to exist unless they showed a strong reason to be permitted (such as physical pain, or a big unfortunate event that society empathize as resulting in a strong psychological pain). Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 15:34
  • This is honestly clear as mud (still) so unless you edit the question VTC is the only real option I see. Read this for some background on psychiatric euthanasia cases, which it seems your question might be about... Or are you excluding those too, seemingly per your last comment (which is not even remotely reflected in the body of your question)? Use the edit function to clarify the question, not comments... Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 17:33

2 Answers 2


In the Netherlands, no.

Even though the Netherlands is (in)famous for having comparatively permissive euthanasia laws, it is in fact a highly regulated process with very strict requirements. The most important of those is one I've translated to the best of my ability as "inescapable and unbearable suffering". This excludes all the cases you are asking about.

It is worth mentioning though that this topic is actively debated, with one political party (D66) in particular pushing for legislation that would put the decision to ends one's life in the hands of individuals of over 75 years old, and would legalize the means to do so (the "Pil van Drion"). This has led to a lot of misunderstandings (caused by foreign media representing policy proposals as actual policy) but at the time of writing no such policies exist.

  • @Fizz Seems to me OP is asking a simple question in a somewhat roundabout way, they wan't to know if people have been legally euthanized without a severe medical (be it mental or physical) indication. Well, not in the Netherlands, as this wouldn't be legal.
    – Douwe
    Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 17:39
  • @Douwe I may be overthinking it which is why the question might not be as good as it could be but I am trying to improve it, and that's what feedback is for as well. My question is pretty much what you said on your last comment, both if it has happened and if it currently can happen. Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 20:05
  • 1
    @JJforTransparencyandMonica there you go. It's in Dutch though, I couldn't find suitable sources in English
    – Douwe
    Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 20:09
  • @user7393973 I updated my answer though, I inadvertently misrepresented the D66 proposal pretty bad.
    – Douwe
    Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 20:16
  • There is a very suspicious death of Noa Pothoven (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noa_Pothoven). Allegedly not killed by lethal injection, but kept in a comma and allowed to starve (or die from dehydration) . Which is in fact even worse then lethal injection.
    – rs.29
    Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 20:56

Basically, no. The BeNeLux countries which allow euthanasia for "psychological suffering" (with fairly similar laws) actually have more specific requirements, as exemplified by Belgium below:

The euthanasia declarations the Federal Control and Evaluation Commission on Euthanasia (FCECE) receives often mention both physical and psychological suffering, with a preponderance of psychological suffering: while medicine can ease physical pain in many cases, it is often powerless when it comes to psychological suffering, such as despair, dependence, loss of dignity. The precondition for this physical or psychological requirement under the Euthanasia Act of 28 May 2002 is that there must be a causal link between the (serious and incurable) medical condition and the suffering. They emphasise that the three essential conditions (i.e. a well-considered request, a serious and incurable medical condition, and constant and unbearable suffering) are intrinsically linked, with the result that, in respect of each euthanasia request, the connection between those three essential conditions must be examined.

(Emphasis in original.) So basically, psychological suffering without (causal) link to an incurable medical condition is not legally valid grounds for granting euthanasia request, in Belgium at least.

In slight contrast the similar

[Dutch] Act talks about suffering and not about a medical condition, but legal doctrine and case law, and more specifically the doctrine developed by the five Regional Review Committees, stipulates that a patient’s suffering must have a medical dimension, irrespective of whether it is somatic or psychiatric in nature. The Dutch Act does not differentiate between patients who are expected to die in the near future or those who are not: at least one physician consulted is required, regardless of whether the patient is in the terminal stage or not.

You can actually find the RTE Code in English and indeed it says:

It is evident from the parliamentary history of the Act that there must be a medical dimension to the suffering. [...]

In its 2002 Brongersma judgment, the Supreme Court, citing the parliamentary history of the Act, held that the patient’s suffering must on the whole be the result of one or more medically recognised diseases or conditions. The Supreme Court also reiterated the opinion it held in the 1994 Chabot judgment, i.e. that the condition may be either somatic or psychiatric. Since then, the KNMG has adopted the position that in assessing suffering in the context of termination of life by a physician, the suffering must (at least) have a medical dimension. In view of the Brongersma judgment and the KNMG’s position, the guiding principle for the RTEs is that the suffering must have a medical dimension: it must fall within the physician’s domain, that is to say within the scope of his responsibility and expertise. There must be a state that can be described as a disease or a medical condition. However, there need not be a single, dominant or life-threatening medical problem. For instance, the patient could be suffering from two (or more) diseases. The medical dimension to the suffering then lies in the combination of these medical conditions.

Do note however that such (accepted) medical conditions include most of the "standard" psychiatric diagnoses though. From a Dutch review on such cases, a vignette (of a somewhat controversial case):

The patient was a man between 30 and 40 years old with a schizoaffective disorder and unspecified personality problems, suffering mostly from depressive complaints and frequently requesting euthanasia. Three psychiatrists were involved in the euthanasia procedure. First, the patient asked his attending psychiatrist, who consulted a second psychiatrist. A third independent psychiatrist was consulted, who advised additional medicinal and psychotherapeutic treatment. The second psychiatrist, in concurrence with the attending psychiatrist, chose to disregard this advice, arguing that these were not reasonable options due to patient’s lack of motivation for further treatment, and performed euthanasia. According to the RTE [regional euthanasia review committee], the performing psychiatrist had sufficient reasons for why he or she saw no benefit in the proposed treatment options and the process was judged as diligent.

Such cases of "psychiatric euthanasia" (as they've been called) are quite a small fraction of the total cases of euthanasia in these countries (e.g. 1% in 2017 in the Netherlands). Similar numbers for Belgium have been reported: 0.5% in 2008, 3% in 2013. Furthermore, most such requests for euthanasia (from psychiatric patients) are denied, e.g. in the Netherlands:

the percentage of EAS requests from psychiatric patients that is granted remains low: 2% in 1995, 6% in 2008 and 5% in 2016

There don't seem to have been (even) any cases of "psychiatric euthanasia" in Luxembourg, although the law supposedly allows them there too. There has been some commentary that a recent court decision in Quebec would allow "psychiatric euthanasia" there too, but insofar, I've seen no cases reported.

But to repeat this point, even the "psychiatric euthanasia" cases (which are also rather sparse) do not meet your criteria, as they involve a psychiatric diagnosis.

  • That is very interesting and pretty much the information that I was looking to know about. Those countries north/central of Europe sometimes really show to me that they're the most ahead/developed mentality-wise (IMO). I don't think that I should say that it's a shame that the numbers are that low, but, hopefully some day those who trully don't desire any other option will be less restricted to it if they so wish so, because even though some might change ideas after undefined amount of help and/or time, others don't, and it's unfortunate that they have to continue to exist against their will. Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 23:04
  • 1
    I'm sorry if I didn't expressed my question well enough at first and maybe still not as good as it could be. I did tried to put a substantial amount of effort into it... and a few work hours too. Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 23:06

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .