Elder Law: Alcohol Addiction Patient Chooses Assisted Suicide

The “right to die” is an increasingly common trope in elder law around the world. In the Netherlands, assisted suicide is legal for people experiencing “unbearable suffering” and with no chance of improvement. Most of those to take advantage of the law are in the late stages of a terminal disease — but not all.

The man in this story has long battled alcohol addiction. After trying rehab 21 times, this man elected to end his suffering by assisted suicide. In the comfort of his parents’ home, and surrounded by his loved ones, Mark Langedijk was administered lethal injection by a doctor.

The most controversial aspect of Mr. Langedijk’s choice was whether or not he had a chance for improvement. In order for assisted suicide to be approved under the Netherlands law, the patient must have experienced “unbearable suffering” and have no chance for improvement. While people may accept that alcohol addiction can lead to “unbearable suffering,” many are questioning whether the patient indeed had no chance for improvement.

Controversial as this case may be, many people around the world support the idea that our medical system should offer people a humane way out of unbearable suffering. Assisted suicide is currently legal (to varying degrees) in 6 U.S. states, and legislation is under review in 6 more.

See Tom Embury-Dennis, Man in the Netherlands Euthanised Due to His Alcohol Addiction, Independent, November 29, 2016.

Special thanks to the Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog for posting this article.