Would the legalisation of Medically Assisted Dying encourage suicide in the NZ population?
Some opponents of Medically Assisted Dying are concerned that the introduction into NZ would increase suicide. End-of-Life Choice says that there is no evidence that this would happen or has happened. In fact, there is some evidence that the absence of Medically Assisted Dying leads some individuals with relentless disease to take their lives prematurely while they are still physically able to do that.
Suicide rates in legalised jurisdictions
If it were true that Medically Assisted Dying encouraged suicide, one might expect that in countries where legalisation has occurred, the suicide figures would confirm a link. However, from data available, there is no evidence of a causative link in countries where legalisation has occurred.
Summary of Suicide Statistics above:
The above figures show there is no correlation between the legalisation of Medically Assisted Dying and increased suicide rates. Luxembourg, Switzerland and Belgium have decreased rates. Oregon is the same as more than 10 years prior to legalisation. The Netherlands rate is the same as 10 years prior to legalisation and is lower than most of the other European countries and NZ.
Premature Death by Suicide because Medically Assisted Dying is not available
There is abundant evidence now that individuals will often commit suicide rather than endure the ravages of their disease, because assisted dying is not available to them.
Prepared by Dr Jack Havill, Past President of End-of-Life Choice
Revised Jan 2019