Niet strafbare hulp bij zelfdoding buiten de Wtl*

Martijn Hagens, Bregje D. Onwuteaka-Philipsen, Marianne C. Snijdewind, Kirsten Evenblij en H. Roeline W. Pasman

Waarom zoeken mensen informatie over en hulp bij zelfdoding? En wat vinden ze van de consulenten die dat bieden? Kleinschalig, kwalitatief onderzoek bij Stichting de Einder is de eerste stap richting een antwoord.

Unpunishable assistance in suicide outside the Wtl


Various right-to-die associations offer unpunishable assistance in suicide outside the Dutch Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide Act or Wtl. This article investigates why people seek assistance from right-to-die associations, how this relates to looking for assistance under the Wtl and how people appreciate this guidance from right-to-die associations.

Design and method

Open-coding and inductive analysis of in-depth interviews with 17 people who received guidance through the foundation ‘De Einder’.


Respondents who were suffering at the time expected or knew their doctor was unwilling to provide assistance under the Wtl. Respondents who were mainly concerned about possible future suffering often considered self-determined termination of life as a backup plan in case assistance under the Wtl would prove impossible in the future or preferred to take their own responsibility. Suboptimal communication between doctor and patient had an influence on the search for unpunishable assistance in suicide outside the Wtl. Many respondents looking for assistance through the foundation ‘De Einder’ had a preference for assistance under the Wtl. Except for a few critical comments, the open communication and non-directive guidance of consultants were seen as positive.


Open communication between doctor and patient about self-determined termination of life requires mutual understanding, respect and empathy regarding the possibilities and limitations of both doctor and patient regarding self-determined termination of life and desired assistance related to this. The royal Dutch medical association (KNMG) position paper ‘The role of the physician in the voluntary termination of life’ provides physicians with guidelines for offering unpunishable assistance in suicide outside the Wtl.

Conflict of interest and financial support: potential conflicts of interest have been reported for this article. ICMJE forms provided by the authors are available online along with the full text of this article.