“Legalisation of Euthanasia or Assisted Suicide is a Threat to Suicide Prevention”: New Anscombe Briefing Paper

By The Anscombe Bioethics Centre

Editor’s note. “The Anscombe Bioethics Centre is the UK’s oldest national research centre in bioethics (est. 1977), engaging in scholarship, public debate, and education.”

Our latest paper in our euthanasia and assisted suicide (EAS) series is ‘Suicide Prevention: Does Legalising Assisted Suicide Make Things Better Or Worse?’ by our Director, Professor David Albert Jones.

In his paper, Professor Jones points to the evidence from Europe as well as North America concerning the connection between the introduction of EAS in jurisdictions and the incidence of non-assisted suicides. The findings of several studies published on this topic in peer review journals in recent years are that, after EAS is introduced:

  • Rates of EAS increase significantly
  • Rates of self-initiated deaths (EAS plus non-assisted suicide) increase significantly
  • The increase in self-initiated death is disproportionately high in women
  • Rates of non-assisted suicide also increase, in some cases significantly

No study has found a reduction in non-assisted suicide relative to non-EAS states.

The available evidence all points in the same direction: in relation to suicide prevention, whatever good legalising euthanasia or assisted suicide may do, it does more harm. The introduction of EAS into law and medical practice is a threat to suicide prevention.

Professor Jones says:

I am really concerned that the legalisation of euthanasia or assisted suicide (EAS) can have a negative impact on a people who are struggling to find their lives valuable and meaningful. There have been four peer review studies on EAS and suicide rates in 2022 and they all point in the same direction. I would advise anyone to look at the evidence for themselves. It is very troubling”.

The papers in our EAS series clarify the issues at stake in the social, political, and medical discussion, examining the definitions concerning, and practical consequences of legalising physician involvement in assisting a patient to end their own life, or directly causing their death.

You can read the full briefing paper series on its dedicated page on our website, here.