A Dutch woman with a phobia of germs is among scores of people who have been offered euthanasia for mental health problems in the Netherlands.
Last year, 56 people classed as being mentally ill opted to terminate their lives, while the End of Life Clinic in Amsterdam currently has more than 1,234 applications for euthanasia by patients suffering from mental health conditions including psychological trauma and dementia.
The controversial decision to terminate the lives of people with mental as well as physical illness was highlighted last week after the Dutch Euthanasia Commission released details of a sexual abuse victim in her 20s who was legally allowed to end her life in Holland.
Its director Steven Pleiter confirmed to the Daily Mail that the first mental health patient euthanised at the clinic after it opened in 2012 was a woman with a crippling phobia of germs.
The 54-year-old had reportedly been controlled by her phobia, and satisfied the necessary criteria for mental health patients requesting euthanasia, which include requesting euthanasia to a doctor who regards the patient as medically untreatable and having the case presided over by an ethics committee who make the ultimate decision.
Mr Pleiter told the Daily Mail: “One of the reasons the clinic was set up was to help the 'forgotten ones' who wish for euthanasia but get denied it.
'This is a huge group: those with dementia, the elderly with no clear medical diagnosis and those with psychological problems.'
'If someone has cancer and the prognosis is poor, doctors will shorten their suffering by euthanasia.
'But if you cannot see what a patient is dying of, or know when they will die — it could be many years ahead if the person is mentally ill — then the doctors find it more difficult to decide whether to end a life.”
There is currently no option for assisted dying in the UK, with euthanasia voted against in Parliament last year by 336 to 118.