By Guest Author 18/09/2020

Jacqui Maguire, registered clinical psychologist

This podcast episode highlights how difficult it is to have effective conversations about euthanasia due to how polarised people’s views are.

I’m a clinical psychologist, with a passion for science communication. In early 2020 I founded the podcast Mind Brew, with an aim to make psychological research accessible for New Zealanders to foster personal wellbeing, work and relationships.

In the latest episode, I speak with Dr Miguel Ricou ahead of the End of Life Choice referendum. Dr Ricou is an Assistant Professor and research coordinator at the Department of Social and Health Sciences of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto (FMUP). He is President of the Ethics Commission of the Portuguese Order of Psychologists and founder of the European platform “Wish to Die”, a platform that brings together health professionals, such as psychologists and psychiatrists. In 2019, he co-authored a study published in the European Psychologist Arguing that psychologists must play a key role in the evaluation of the wish to die.

On October 17th New Zealanders will cast their vote on the End of Life Choice referendum. If passed this Act represents a significant change to life’s end as we currently know it. There has been a lack of balanced, evidence-based information available to the general public to support people in their decision making.

This Mind Brew episode highlights how difficult it is to have effective conversations about euthanasia due to individuals’ polarised views. Dr Ricou reports that people generally see life as sacred or believe in the importance of autonomy, voting ‘no’ and ‘yes’ to euthanasia accordingly. For this reason, it is strongly suggested that a referendum is not a preferred decision making tool when it comes to end of life; and that it is politicians that should be making educated decisions on this issue.

Our discussion highlights the lack of evidence investigating how individuals make a ‘wish to die’ decision; the difference between suicide, assisted suicide and euthanasia;  the ‘slippery slope argument’ and the need for psychologists to play a central role in supporting individuals who wish to die by euthanasia.

Every New Zealander should listen to this Mind Brew episode before they vote on October 17. It is our collective duty to make an educated vote on a decision that has such wide societal implication.

Jacqui Maguire is a registered clinical psychologist. She spoke about this topic this morning on TVNZ Breakfast.