Lecture at AGU Discusses Ethics in Dealing with the Death of Individuals with Mental Disorders

The Department of Psychiatry at the College of Medicine and Medical Sciences at the Arab Gulf University, in collaboration with the Leadership and Professional Ethics Programme (LEAP), hosted Professor John Haggarty, Head of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Northern Ontario, Canada.

He delivered a lecture on the ethics of dealing with the death of individuals suffering from mental disorders, highlighting the mechanisms and approaches to their management and the nature of the medical assistance they require.

During the lecture, Professor John Haggarty presented success stories of medical interventions provided for cases of death resulting from mental disorders in Canada. He elaborated on the ethical and legal challenges associated with such cases, noting that the Canadian government is currently considering including mental health disorders as a qualifying condition for receiving medical assistance in dying. He shed light on the concerns related to this proposed legislation and its impact on those struggling with mental health issues.

He stated, “It is well known that the vast majority of mental illnesses exhibit a quiet cyclical pattern, which often leads many patients to feel the need to end their lives during these psychological periods. However, they can be extremely vulnerable when they are in acute psychological stages, making decisions like these far from easy.”

During the lecture, cases were discussed where mental health patients resorted to assisted suicide without the need for specialised psychiatrists to assess their capacity to make the right decision or provide an accurate diagnosis regarding this important and concerning matter.

Furthermore, the lecture highlighted the ethical and cultural values in medical practice. Professor Mariwan Husni, Head of the Psychiatry Department at the College of Medicine and Medical Sciences, clarified that the LEAP programme has incorporated “Ethical Guidelines for Healthcare Providers” in its curriculum, established by the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties. 

These guidelines emphasise the commitment of physicians in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and the Islamic world to the regulatory authorities of the GCC countries and medical licensing bodies, while presenting the most suitable ethical standards for patients and doctors in the Arab and Islamic regions.

In a related context, data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicates that one in ten people worldwide always suffers from a mental disorder. Nearly one in four families has a member with a mental disorder.  Suicide causes more than 800,000 deaths annually, with nearly one billion people worldwide suffering from some form of mental disorder. Every 40 seconds, someone dies by suicide.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top