Although more research is needed, the accumulated evidence suggests that legal euthanasia is harmful to suicide prevention.
A new study has found that the legalization of suicide by doctors increases the number of cases of suicide. The study was conducted by the Anscombe Bioethics Centre, a Catholic university based in Oxford.
Anscombe’s findings, based on data collected from Europe and North America, suggest that nations that practice euthanasia and assisted suicide (EAS) continue to see an increase in mortality in self-starter, a feature that includes EAS and unassisted ignition. In addition, the rates of suicide are very high among women.
Professor David Albert Jones, the author of the statement, noted that research is greatly needed in this area, but what evidence has been collected “all aspects of in the same way”. Jones wrote in the report:
“There is no evidence that EAS enforcement is effective in preventing suicide. There is strong evidence, drawn from different jurisdictions and using a variety of statistical methods, that the total number of deaths initiated by each where EAS is legally available, with strong evidence that this has a greater impact on older women.
In a statement made on November 9, published by The Dialog, Jones said that Belgium has reached the highest suicide rate in Europe since euthanasia was legalized in 2002. Currently, the Netherlands is recording increases in suicide rates despite having more EAS activities than other countries. The US also records the highest number of unassisted suicides in countries where physician-assisted suicide is legal.
Comparing suicide rates in European countries that have adopted EAS and those that have not, the study found that the latter have lower rates of suicide. This suggests that the legalization of euthanasia is detrimental to suicide prevention efforts.
In his conclusion, Jones wrote:
“A lot can be done but there is no evidence that changing the law on assisted suicide will help. However, there is growing evidence that removing the legal ban on forced and assisted suicide could cause serious harm. These are not just mental disorders but serious illnesses for people who are vulnerable to suicide. The legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide is a threat to suicide prevention.”
Read the full report at Anscombe Bioethics Centre.