Researchers are warning that assisted suicide can lead to “inhumane” deaths, with some people taking as long as seven days to die.
The study, reported by the highly respected British Medical Journal (BMJ), found a “considerable” inconsistency in the methods being used to end people’s lives.
The news comes as the Scottish Council for Human Bioethics said a change in the law would put the most vulnerable in society at risk.
The research highlighted cases where patients experienced severe discomfort, and high rates of vomiting. Some people were also reported to suffer for up to seven days after the drugs had been administered.
Researchers concluded that “some deaths may be inhumane” and compared some practices to capital punishment.
Dr Gillian Wright, Senior Researcher at the Scottish Council for Human Bioethics, said that she will not perform assisted suicide even if the law changes. She argued that “human value and worth” mean that taking life cannot be justified.
“For the state to sanction the taking of an individual’s life is a solemn and significant action. It reverberates across the values and shakes the very basis of our society”, she added.
Over 1,800 doctors and medics have signed a letter opposing the Royal College of Physicians’ (RCP) change of stance on assisted suicide.
The survey asking members what position they think the RCP should take was branded “rigged” after it was revealed that the College would adopt a ‘neutral’ position unless 60 per cent voted for it to remain opposed or for it to switch to being in favour.
Medics say that the move sends an obvious message of support for a change in the law.