Dignitas tells MPs: ‘Mentally ill should be allowed to opt for assisted suicide’

Mentally ill people should be allowed to choose to be killed by assisted suicide, Dignitas has told MPs.

The Swiss business made the controversial claim in evidence to the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee inquiry into assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Since its foundation 25 years ago, Dignitas has helped over 3,500 people to kill themselves – 540 of them from the UK.

Protections ‘patronising’

In written evidence, Dignitas claimed that “people suffering from mental health problems normally have sufficient capacity of discernment to decide whether they would like to continue living or end their life”.

It also said: “There are no rational reasons to patronise these people through paternalism.”

Speaking to the committee, Dignitas team member Silvan Luley argued that “it is a widely held misconception, and maybe even a prejudice, that people who have some sort of mental illness are not competent”.

Luley told the Committee that it was “about time” the UK removed safeguards protecting the vulnerable from assisted suicide and if it did, “the best thing would be to come as close to the Swiss model as possible”.

Isle of Man

Last month, proposals to legalise euthanasia were launched in the Parliament of the Isle of Man.

The Assisted Dying Bill 2023 would allow people deemed to be terminally ill to get help from doctors to end their lives.

According to the Bill, those asking to die must be over 18, not expected to live beyond six months, have mental capacity, be ordinarily resident on the Island for not less than a year, and have “a clear and settled intention to end their own life”.

But activists are already calling some of the so-called safeguards ‘too narrow’.

Also see:

RCS England abandons support for end-of-life protections

Oireachtas members fear for vulnerable under assisted suicide law

Nevada Governor vetoes assisted suicide Bill

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