Countries with legal assisted suicide have higher overall suicide rates, new research reveals

assisted suicide, euthanasia, suicide

Research has confirmed that countries with legalized assisted suicide have higher rates of “self-initiated” and “non-assisted” suicide than those without.

The Anscombe Bioethics Centre, based in Oxford, released a paper examining the effect legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide (EAS) has. Research found that legalizing assisted suicide led to not only significant increases in EAS, but in “self-initiated” and “non-assisted” suicides as well, particularly among women.

Professor David Albert Jones, director of the Centre, further explained that the reason for the increase in suicide overall is simple.

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“If we encourage assisted suicide, then we will encourage suicide,” he said. “If we legalize what is euphemistically called ‘assisted dying,’ then more people will kill themselves, and not only people with chronic or terminal illnesses. The evidence is out there, the threat is real. Belgium, which legalized euthanasia in 2002, currently has the highest suicide rate in Western Europe. In the Netherlands, which has more euthanasia than any country in the world, suicide is also rising. In America, suicide is rising more in states that have legalized physician-assisted suicide than it is in states that have resisted calls to change the law.”

The most recent study considered by the Centre in its research was published in 2022 in the British Journal of Psychiatry. Examining suicide rates in the United States, Switzerland, Belgium, and the Netherlands, it found “quite strong evidence that total suicides increase following implementation of assisted suicide laws and somewhat weaker evidence that part of the overall increase is driven by a net rise in unassisted suicides.”

Another 2022 study, published in The Journal of Ethics in Mental Health, found that no European country had reductions in suicide rates after legalizing assisted suicide. Instead, it found legalization was “followed by considerable increases in suicide (inclusive of assisted suicide) and in intentional self-initiated death,” and women were the most likely to be “placed at risk of avoidable premature death.”

“I am really concerned that the legalization of euthanasia or assisted suicide (EAS) can have a negative impact on a people who are struggling to find their lives valuable and meaningful,” Jones said. “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.”

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