Grief after euthanasia or suicide due to mental illness

In 2020, 1035 people died by suicide due to mental illness in the Netherlands
In 2021, 115 people died by euthanasia due to mental illness in the Netherlands

In 2022, researchers from ARQ National Psychotrauma Centre and the University of Humanistic Studies conducted research in the Netherlands into grief after suicide and euthanasia due to mental illness. It is the first time that the grief process of partners of psychiatric patients who died by suicide or euthanasia has been mapped out. 

In-depth interviews were conducted with 27 bereaved partners and questionnaires. Survivors bereaved by euthanasia were found to have less severe grief symptoms and grief experiences than those bereaved by suicide. This is because  

  • they are able to say goodbye   
  • there is no suffering   
  • professional support is available  

More sympathy for euthanasia from social environment  

Survivors bereaved through suicide receive little empathy from others for their deceased partners' suffering. People wonder whether the suicide could perhaps have been prevented, for example. While even those closest to someone struggling with mental health issues are often unaware.   

This appears to be different for relatives bereaved through euthanasia. Having a partner's euthanasia request granted helps others understand that the suffering is unbearable and hopeless. Being able to say goodbye, being involved, and the social environment are circumstances that can influence the sense of meaningfulness after loss.   

Relatives hope that doctors will be more willing to seriously consider euthanasia requests due to psychological suffering. Previous research  shows that 16% of people whose euthanasia requests are denied due to mental illness subsequently commit suicide.

"If the care is good and the options are on the table, and someone still decides they no longer want to live, then preferably humanely of course, through euthanasia for example.... but those options have to be available."

Survivor after suicide 

If you have thoughts of suicide or are worried about someone you know, talking can help. Confidential support services are available 24/7: chat via, call 113 or call freephone 0800-0113. 



Final year

Year ended

Project type

Project type

Contact us