Woman becomes first to commit assisted suicide using Italy’s National Health Service

assisted suicide

A woman has become the first to die in Italy by assisted suicide with the help of the country’s National Health Service.

Reports indicate that the 55-year-old woman, known as Anna, chose to end her life because she had multiple sclerosis. The pro-assisted death Luca Coscioni Association announced the woman’s death, saying she was “the first Italian woman to have completed the procedure envisaged by the Constitutional Court with the Cappato ruling, with the direct assistance of the National Health Service.”

In 2019, the country’s Constitutional Court decriminalized assisted suicide under certain conditions and with the approval of local health authorities and an ethics board. Anna is now the third person since that time known to have undergone assisted suicide.

Though it is decriminalized, the country still does not have legalized euthanasia, though the ability of Anna to access suicide drugs with the help of the National Health Service reveals a troubling trend towards more liberalized laws. Others are continuing to advocate for greater access to assisted suicide in the country; last month, an actress traveled to Switzerland to kill herself because she was told she did not qualify for assisted death in Italy. She recorded a video message before her death, advocating for broader laws. 


In its announcement, the Luca Coscioni Association pointed out that Anna’s progressive multiple sclerosis had made her “totally dependent on the assistance of other people.” This, in addition to her suffering, had made her pursue assisted death. 

Fear of being a burden on others is one of the top reasons that people feel compelled to seek assisted suicide. This is especially true in countries with liberal suicide laws, as elderly or ill people feel that they should consider suicide so as not to inconvenience others. The antidote to this is compassionate palliative care, which helps to improve a person’s quality of life while respecting their human dignity.  

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