Legalising euthanasia or assisted suicide is more likely to increase overall suicides rather than reduce them, a new study has found.
The Anscombe Bioethics Centre’s research, published in the Journal of Ethics in Mental Health, analysed suicides, euthanasia and assisted suicide from the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland between 1990 and 2016. This data was compared with suicides in neighbouring countries where euthanasia and assisted suicide are not legal.
The study found that the legalisation of euthanasia or assisted suicide was followed by “considerable increases in suicide (inclusive of assisted suicide) and in intentional self-initiated death”.
In all four countries studied, there was found to be “very steep rises in suicide” after the introduction of euthanasia or assisted suicide. In Switzerland, the suicide rate of women has nearly doubled since 1998.
The study concluded that it is not the prohibition of euthanasia or assisted suicide, but their introduction, which is associated with “evidence of premature death”, especially among women.
Professor David Albert Jones, the study’s lead author, said: “This is further evidence that legalising assisted suicide or euthanasia will result in more people ending their lives prematurely”.
it is not the prohibition of euthanasia or assisted suicide, but their introduction, which is associated with “evidence of premature death”
He explained: “It will not save lives. It will not help prevent suicide. Legalising what is euphemistically called ‘assisted dying’ will endanger the lives of older people living with serious illness. We must say very clearly to all people irrespective of age, disability or illness, that they should not be made to feel that they are a burden to the community.”
Earlier this year, the world’s largest body representing palliative care doctors shared how its members believe media bias is motivating individuals to support the removal of end-of-life protections.
The Association for Palliative Medicine’s (APM) survey found that nearly nine in ten respondents (87 per cent) felt there had not been enough press coverage on “good deaths”.
Baroness Meacher’s assisted suicide Bill is currently in the House of Lords, while in Scotland Liam McArthur MSP is pressing ahead with his plan to legalise assisted suicide.