Older Scots made to feel a burden to society

One in three older people in Scotland fear their lives are a burden to others, a survey has revealed.

In a poll of more than 3,500 over-50s living in Scotland, 36 per cent believed they were seen as a burden by the wider community, and 51 per cent felt under-valued.

It comes amid pressure from campaigners for assisted suicide for Scotland to remove end-of-life protections that benefit the elderly and infirm.


Age Scotland launched The Big Survey 2021 in February to explore the experiences of older people across a number of areas, including Covid-19, scamming and their perceived place in society.

The charity’s Chief Executive Brian Sloan said it was “heartbreaking to read that most older people don’t feel valued by our society, with more than a third being made to feel that their lives are a burden”.

Commenting on the findings, Scotland’s Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison said: “No one should ever feel a burden to society.”


In 2019, a Government report in Canada revealed that more than a third of patients who requested they be killed by their doctors cited fear of being a burden to their families as a reason for doing so.

Another 13.7 per cent said it was because of “isolation or loneliness”.

Over half of those in the US State of Oregon who died by assisted suicide in 2019 and 2020 cited the fear of being a burden on others as a reason for ending their lives.


Last week, Liam McArthur MSP launched the required public consultation on his proposal to allow vulnerable people to get help to kill themselves.

Almost two hundred healthcare professionals have expressed their opposition to the plan but McArthur is being supported by pro-assisted suicide groups including Dignity in Dying Scotland (formerly known as the Voluntary Euthanasia Society) and the Humanist Society Scotland.

Two assisted suicide Bills have been defeated in the Scottish Parliament since 2010.

A majority of MSPs in both the Scottish Conservatives and Scottish Labour parties voted against the Bill, with MSPs from the Scottish Liberal Democrats and the SNP also rejecting the legislation, but both Scottish Green MSPs voted in favour of the Bill.

Also see:

SNP pledges to consider legalising assisted suicide if re-elected

‘In a civilised society every life has value’, says bioethicist

Assisted suicide law ‘protects vulnerable from pressure to end their lives’

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