Associations between Assisted Suicide and Depression

Assisted Suicide Study Questions Its Use for Mentally Ill is a published article by The New York Times author, Benedict Carey. Carey references a 2016 study conducted by psychiatrist Scott Y. H.

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Kim, MD, PhD, in the JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry titled, Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide of Patients With Psychiatric Disorders in the Netherlands 2011 to 2014 (Carey, 2016). In the article, Benedict Carey assesses and summarizes the studyr’s findings, claiming practices in the Netherlands for assisted suicide are questionable at best (Carey, 2016). According to Carey, the study gathered medical records and documentation from 2011-2014, where 66 patients had chosen doctor facilitated suicide, many who suffered from multiple psychiatric disorders and refused further treatment that may have benefited them (Carey, 2016). Patients requesting euthanasia reported loneliness and an inability to cope with untreatable illnesses (Carey, 2016). Women comprised a majority of the cases, and many of them were over 60 years old (Carey, 2016). Although depression was a factor, Carey cites that other problems such as personality disorders, autism, substance abuse, and eating disorders were combined with other physical diagnoses (Carey, 2016). The main problem with these cases were the way in which they were evaluated by medical doctors and psychiatrists. Several doctors disagreed with their patientr’s desire for assisted suicide, which prompted severe cases to seek an alternative route via mobile end-of-life clinics, where patients would get assistance from doctors they had never seen before (Carey, 2016). Most, if not all, of these doctors were not trained psychiatrists and did not have the ability to fully assess their patientr’s mental health before approving euthanasia (Carey, 2016). Benedict Carey concludes that although other countries allow assisted suicide for patients with mental illnesses and a variety of other disorders, the United States only allows this choice in five states (Carey, 2016). The main difference between the United States and countries like the Netherlands is criteria for assisted suicide is evaluated only with mentally competent, terminally ill adults (Carey, 2016).

The timeliness of this article is recent, as it was published in 2016. The information is relatively current, but the study the article references was updated and published under a different title. Since more people are seeking assisted suicide yearly, there have been several new studies published to evaluate the significance and associations between mental illness and assisted suicide requests. This topic is expanded in further research articles to evaluate the specifics of psychiatric disorders and terminal illnesses, and whether practitioners can make clear and ethical decisions when patients want to end their lives. This article is not sufficient to form an opinion based on the amount of research provided. A more current peer-reviewed journal in combination with other research would be a better option.

Although the article mentions depression, it is not fully relevant to determine associations between depression and assisted suicide. Due to the limited amount of information provided by the author, it is too basic even from a laymanr’s perspective. Carey does reference the actual study once in his article and continues to pick random parts of the study without properly citing the material inserted. Upon a quick search, it appears there are several sources that would provide more detail to fully answer all questions in this segment of the assessment. Alone, this article does not pass the relevance part of the TRAAP assessment. In order to conduct research, one would need to find several other sources for relevancy purposes.

In terms of authority, the publisher is The New York Times, which is an opinion-based news source. They have multiple freelance writers who publish articles ranging anywhere from politics to healthcare to sports. The author for this article is Benedict Carey, who is a freelance writer. Although he has written other articles related to psychology, his academic background is in mathematics and journalism. A hyperlink is provided in the article by Carey, where his background and three published books are mentioned. After conducting a quick search, many of his articles are superficial and focus on attention grabbing titles with limited information. He is in no way an expert on this topic, which is evident, as he cherry-picks research methods and conclusions from the study to support his journalistic writing. Most news articles are reviewed by an editor, but no information was found in the article to suggested this. Based on authority alone, the author does not have enough credibility to assess the seriousness of this highly controversial topic. Further research would be necessary to find a non-biased report or article.

Benedict Careyr’s article references the original study from which he attempts to summarize. However, there is some confusion as the study was updated at least once, and a similar study by the same researcher was published with a different title around the same time. It appears Carey may have used the original study to support his claims. In regard to the study, research was not conducted well, and there appears to be several gaps of missing information. For example, the study does not set up a comparison group or have a logical flow. Careyr’s article is similar in flow, as it seems disorganized, with random quotes thrown in without proper citation. Although the article first appears to take a non-biased approach, the title itself is biased. Upon further investigation, Carey picks evidence to support the title making it a biased article. There is no way to replicate the research, as the article is an opinion-based piece. Without the link to the original study, there is no way to figure out whether the author wrote this piece based on previous research or personal opinion. Due to this information, the accuracy of this article is highly questionable, and one would be advised to search for other research articles.

The main purpose of this article is to persuade the targeted audience to form negative opinions about assisted suicide in any case. The intentions are clear, as Carey specifically highlights disagreements between doctors and psychiatrists on the subject (Carey, 2016). He even goes above and beyond by mentioning an outlier in the study: an elderly woman seeking euthanasia for loneliness without any physical or psychiatric diagnoses (Carey, 2016). The information provided is based on one single study, but Carey cherry-picks the evidence to support his claims. He seems to be very interested in suicide and mental illness, as further research provides a link to his articles, which many focus on these subjects. Although Carey is summarizing this specific study, his perceived bias keeps him from asking pertinent questions, such as: What have other studies regarding this topic produced? What are the factors in everyone seeking assisted suicide, and is there a possibility they are justified? Have people who suffer from depression or other forms of mental illness been used as a comparison group? From this point of view, Carey would have a less biased and more informed article to accurately present. The purpose of this article is not sufficient on its own as a reference for a research paper.

It was difficult assessing this article with the TRAAP test, as it is merely an article and provides little to no information that one would have access to from a peer-reviewed journal. Many of the questions involved in the TRAAP test ask specifics about research validity, but the article itself is not research. Due to the length and coverage of the article, it was challenging to answer all TRAAP questions thoroughly. Based on the criteria of the TRAAP test, this article fails in almost all aspects. Even though the study referenced is fairly recent, it does not provide enough research to fully convey the difficult decisions one faces when considering euthanasia. Benedict Carey is not a doctor or psychiatrist, nor is he affiliated with any scientific organizations, so his article fails authority with this specific subject. The relevance and accuracy of the article are questionable, as well, since the information provided is basic and leaves the reader with many unanswered questions that should have been addressed in the conclusion. Furthermore, the purpose fails the TRAAP test because the author is writing from a biased position.

When determining the efficacy of research regarding assisted suicide and depression, the author could have picked a different study that provided more information about patient demographics. Alternatively, Carey could have put more thought into the article and written a non-biased review. The article in itself is short and seems to be very disorganized. It seems the author rushed through the writing process as the study was published shortly before the written article. If this had anything to do with being the first to break a story, his intentions were less to inform and aimed more for the number of hits or clicks to a link. Taking the time to read through such a controversial topic and report on it without bias would make the article more reliable. If the author had consulted with other physicians and used multiple studies to compare the associations of assisted suicide and depression, there would possibly be more validity in his work. Overall, the article is not a reliable source to assess the association between assisted suicide and depression.

References

Carey, B. (2016, February 10). Assisted Suicide Study Questions Its Use for Mentally Ill. Retrieved September 27, 2018, from The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/11/health/assisted-suicide-mental-disorders.html

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