Legalizing Assisted Suicide Increases Suicide

By Wesley J. Smith

Whether legalising EAS [Euthanasia/Assisted Suicide] encourages suicide or helps prevent suicide is an empirical question. We need to look at the evidence. There have been several studies published on this topic in peer review journals in recent years.

These studies have found 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.

It’s only logical. When the popular culture, media, some doctors, political advocates, and the law push some suicides, people with suicidal ideation for causes outside the (then) permitted legal parameters for facilitation hear the message that suicide is proper, which may encourage them to take lethal action, too.

As Lincoln said about American slavery and its opposition back in the day, eventually, the country would either become all one thing or all the other. The same is true about suicide. Encouraging and aiding suicide for some — while trying to prevent others from killing themselves — is inconsistent and over time, untenable. We either try to prevent them all, or eventually we will end up akin to where Germany is now, thanks to a court ruling: suicide on demand for any reason — or no reason at all.

It’s our choice.

Editor’s note. Wesley’s great columns appear at National Review Online and reposted with permission.