Year: 2020 Source: Journal of Pain Symptom Management. (2020). 60(1), 158-163. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2020.02.016. SIEC No: 20201007

Medical assistance in dying (MAID) and similar right-to-die laws are becoming increasingly common in jurisdictions across North America and elsewhere. To be eligible for MAID in Canada, requesters must have a serious illness, intolerable suffering, and a reasonably foreseeable natural death. They must also undergo two assessments to confirm eligibility. Although a growing body of literature now exists to help clinicians understand and support patients around requests for assisted death, a dearth of literature exists on how best to support those patients who are deemed ineligible. Here, we report on a case series of three patients who attempted suicide after being found ineligible for MAID. Two patients were ineligible because they did not appear to have reasonably foreseeable natural death. The third patient was ineligible because of concerns around decisional capacity. All three cases had previous diagnoses of depressive disorders and mild cognitive impairment, and two cases had histories of suicide attempts. In at-risk patients, we speculate that the period surrounding a finding of MAID ineligibility may represent a period of particular vulnerability. Clinicians must be vigilant and prepared for the possibility of heightened risk, including risk of self-harm, after a finding of ineligibility for assisted death.