The distinction between different types of euthanasia

There are various types of euthanasia:

  • Active euthanasia - something is done to a person to make them die more quickly, eg giving drugs with the intention of bringing about death.
  • Passive euthanasia - any form of treatment that might extend a person's life is withdrawn, eg a life support machine is turned off or a feeding tube is removed. This is legally allowed in the UK, and so would not be called euthanasia.
  • Voluntary euthanasia - a person asks for their own life to be ended.
  • Non-voluntary euthanasia - a person cannot make a decision about euthanasia or cannot make their wishes known, and so someone else (eg a doctor or a family member) decides that it would be in the person's best interest if their life was ended. For example, if the person is in a coma.
  • Involuntary euthanasia - a person wants to live, but someone else (eg a doctor or a family member) decides that it would be in the person's best interest if their life was ended. For example, if a person has had an accident that will lead to imminent and painful death a decision might be made to end their life even if the person wanted to live.
  • Assisted suicide - deliberately assisting or encouraging another person to end their own life.
Different types of euthanasia