What should a person consider before refusing fluids to end one's life?

Barbara Coombs Lee
Hospice Nursing
Voluntarily stopping eating and drinking (VSED) doesn’t always go smoothly, and we recommend careful planning. Before beginning a person should:
  • Carefully consider palliative options and other ways to make life more comfortable and enjoyable. Consider VSED only after all other options are exhausted.
  • Visit a mental-health professional to check for treatable depression and follow any recommended treatment plan. If depression is not a factor, a clean bill of mental health will reassure medical professionals and family. This step can prevent an uneducated or unsympathetic doctor from labeling an individual “suicidal” and ordering a psychiatric lockup.
  • Bring loved ones in on the decision. When they offer their support, approach doctors and other healthcare professionals together.
  • Arrange for the best hospice or palliative services available. The most common difficulty is dry mouth, and this responds to treatment.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.