Meaning in life, spirituality and personal values at the end of life
Not finding meaning in life is one of the most important reasons for people wanting to end their lives. But what does meaning in life mean for persons at the end of life? This question will be examined in the three largest language regions of Switzerland using a new interview method.
Project description (completed research project)
The number of assisted suicides in Switzerland is increasing steadily. Recent studies have shown clearly that people’s wish to shorten their lives is not so much due to pain or other health complaints. Instead, psychological reasons are decisive, including mainly the loss of meaning and purpose in life. What makes this complex, however, is that each person sees meaning in life in a different way.
This study aims to identify the areas that are decisive for finding meaning in life for persons at the end of life (persons with a life expectancy of fewer than six months) in Switzerland. Based on previous research findings, particular attention will be paid to personal values and spirituality. Finally, the study will investigate the way in which these factors affect persons’ wish to end their lives. To achieve these aims, a new interview method will be used that allows the participating patients to themselves define the factors that give meaning to life in their situations. In addition, the interview will capture information on their spirituality, personal values and the wish to choose the timing of their death.
The results will describe the areas that can provide meaning in life for persons in the last phase of their lives. They will also show the effect of meaning in life, spirituality and personal values on persons’ wish to shorten their lives at the end of life. The results can aid the organisation of better care for patients with serious illness. Following a pilot phase, it is planned to use the results as a basis for developing new, meaning-centered supportive intervention for persons in the last phase of their lives.
Meaning in life, personal values, spirituality, and wishes for hastened death at the end of life