Study: Countries practicing euthanasia and assisted suicide have higher suicide rates

Countries that legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide develop higher rates of “self-initiated” suicides than those that don’t, according to a new research paper from a Catholic Bioethics Institute.

The Oxford-based Anscombe Bioethics Centre, which serves the Catholic Church in Britain and Ireland, also found that women were more likely to commit suicide in jurisdictions that allowed euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The bioethics institute based its findings on evidence from studies in Europe and North America that showed physician-assisted deaths were accompanied by associated increases in rates of self-inflicted suicide.

David Jones, director of the bioethics institute, said the results revealed that “if we encourage assisted suicide, we will encourage suicide”.

“If we legalize what is euphemistically called ‘assisted dying,’ then more people will commit suicide, and not just people with chronic or terminal illnesses,” he said Nov. 9. .

“The evidence is there, the threat is real,” he said.

“Belgium, which legalized euthanasia in 2002, currently has the highest suicide rate in Western Europe,” he said. “In the Netherlands, which has more euthanasia than any country in the world, suicide is also on the rise.

“In America, suicide is increasing more in states that have legalized physician-assisted suicide than in states that have resisted calls to change the law,” he added.

The study, “Suicide Prevention: Does Legalizing Assisted Suicide Make It Better or Worse?” was posted Nov. 8 on Anscombe’s website.

He found that the legalization of euthanasia or assisted suicide is invariably followed by the so-called “slippery slope” of significant and gradual increases in the number of people seeking to die by lethal injection or by ingesting a lethal cocktail.

He also found an unexpected pattern of high and rising “self-initiated deaths” – including a disproportionate and often significantly high rate of suicides among women in particular.

No study reviewed by Anscombe found a reduction in unassisted suicides in states that have legalized euthanasia or assisted suicide.

In a statement on Anscombe’s website, Jones said: “I am deeply concerned that the legalization of euthanasia or assisted suicide may have a negative impact on people struggling to find their precious lives and significant.

“There have been four peer review studies on EAS (euthanasia and assisted suicide) and suicide rates in 2022, and they all point in the same direction,” he continued. “I would advise anyone to look at the evidence for themselves. It’s very disturbing.”

Among the most recent papers reviewed by Anscombe is a 2022 study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

She limited herself to data from the United States, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands and found “fairly strong evidence that the total number of suicides is increasing following the implementation of suicide laws assisted and somewhat weaker evidence that part of the overall increase is due to a net increase in unassisted suicides”. suicides.”

Anscombe’s article also references a 35-page study published in early 2022 in The Journal of Ethics in Mental Health. The study found that no European country that has legalized physician-assisted dying has seen a subsequent reduction in violent suicide rates.

On the contrary, “Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide and Suicide Rates in Europe” found that the introduction of euthanasia and assisted suicide “is followed by a considerable increase in suicide (including assisted suicide) and intentional death voluntary”, with women being the most “at risk of preventable premature death.”

The paper compared self-inflicted suicide rates in European countries that allow euthanasia and assisted suicide and found that they were higher than those in neighboring countries that did not allow such practices.

In 2015, Jones demonstrated that the introduction of assisted suicide in several US states there was also associated with a significant increase in all types of suicides.

In Europe, a growing number of countries now allow assisted dying either in the form of euthanasia, which is legal in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain, or by assisted suicide, which is legal in like Switzerland.

Euthanasia has been legalized in much of the English-speaking world over the past decade and is now widely practiced in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, with the UK and Ireland under pressure to change their laws in order to authorize the practice or authorize assisted suicide.

Denise W. Whigham