Helpline has received twice the number of calls about euthanasia during the past two weeks

The Tele-Onthaal helpline has received twice the number of calls about euthanasia during the two weeks of the euthanasia trial in Ghent. The trial was of three doctors accused of the murder through poisoning of Tine Nys. Ms Nys had been given euthanasia on the grounds of “insufferable psychiatric pain”. All three of the doctors that were standing trial were acquitted by the jury on Thursday night. The trial has moved people that are suffering psychiatric pain and their relatives to contact Tele Onthaal.      

In an average week Tele-Onthaal receives 15 calls about euthanasia. However, during the duration of the euthanasia trial in Ghent this rose to 31 calls/week.

"We have noticed that there are more people with questions or that need someone to listen to them. In the first instance these are people that are suffering great psychiatric pain. They were afraid that the law would be made stricter as a result of the case and that they wouldn’t be able to choose euthanasia. The caused great disquiet”, Tele-Onthaal’s Jenifer Pots told VRT News.   

The case has been front page headline news over past fortnight and has given a lot of people food for thought.

"We have noticed that some people that are still in mourning. Not just about cases of euthanasia granted due to psychiatric suffering but also about other cases”.    

Tele-Onthaal is keen to stress that all its volunteers have been trained to lend a sympathetic ear to people with question and those that simply want to talk.  

"It is the case that we don’t provide any information about euthanasia. Legally we’re not allowed to. We direct people with concrete questions to the relevant agencies. In the first place we want to give people the chance to discuss their doubts, questions and thoughts. This is often an important first step”.  

"Today too, a few hours after the verdict, we received more calls than usual. These were often relieved reactions from people afraid that the law might be changed”.