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Are assisted suicide and euthanasia the same?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Although the terms assisted suicide and euthanasia are often used interchangeably, they are actually different. Euthanasia is a more global term which includes assisted suicide but may involve other methods of ending life. Assisted suicide is when one person provides all of the information, tools, and procedures necessary for someone else to end one's own life. If a doctor is involved in this process it is sometimes called physician assisted suicide. Euthanasia may be a much more passive approach like unplugging a ventilator for someone in a vegetative state, or not inserting a feeding tube for someone unable to eat. In assisted suicide the person suffering is actively involved in the process, but this is not necessarily true in euthanasia.

Medical Oncologist Dr. Devon Webster explains the difference between assisted suicide and euthanasia. Watch Dr. Webster's video for tips and information on cancer and end-of-life choices.

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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.