Deep Sedation for “Psycho-Existential Suffering”… Euthanasia?

The issue of continuous deep (to-unconsciousness) sedation (CDS) to relieve suffering has been discussed in the literature and, indeed, used in clinical practice for a number of years. Two recent articles prompted this brief post…


For our purposes, we should note that while a minority of all patients receiving continuous deep sedation (CDS) do so for psycho-existential suffering (8.5%), and only one for solely this type of suffering… the VAST majority of these patients (78.6%) also desired “hastened death.”

So, it seems that we have a patient who is suffering and wishes to end his/her life. Then, the doctor administers a medication (with the express purpose of inducing CDS) that renders that patient incapable of eating/drinking… until the patient dies. It is far from clear how one could claim that this is anything other than euthanasia.


We very much appreciate the balanced approach of Drs. Dalle Ave and Sulmasy. Finding a balance between the maintenance of consciousness and the relief of otherwise intractable (perhaps “non-beneficial”) suffering is often difficult…and always important.