Groundbreaking study links legal 'assisted dying' to an increase in suicide rates

Media Release - October 7, 2015

Some advocates claim that the legalisation of physician-assisted suicide (PAS), also known by the euphemisms 'assisted dying' and 'end of life choice', could lead to a reduction in total suicides and delay suicides that do occur. Until recently these claims had not been tested by research.

A groundbreaking study published in this week’s Southern Medical Journal counters these claims. The study examined the association between the legalisation of assisted suicide and state-level suicide rates in the United States between 1990 and 2013.

It concluded that the legalisation of physician-assisted suicide is associated with a 6.3% increase in total suicides (including assisted suicides) and not at all associated with a decrease in non-assisted suicides.

“This suggests either that PAS does not inhibit (nor acts as an alternative to) non-assisted suicide, or that it acts in this way in some individuals but is associated with an increased inclination to suicide in other individuals,” the researchers concluded.

In the New Zealand context a 6.3% increase in suicide rates would represent an additional 35 deaths, based on the 2014-2015 statistics.

“I’m not at all surprised by the study's findings”, says Renee Joubert, Executive Officer of Euthanasia-Free NZ. “Assisted suicide laws communicate the message that the deliberate ending of one’s life is an acceptable solution to life’s problems.”

“There is essentially no difference between suicide and ‘assisted dying’, apart from the number of people involved in the act. Suicide is a person ending their own life without help from anyone else. Assisted suicide, by definition, is a person ending their own life with the help of someone else. Both result in premature death. 
“The slogans employed to justify 'assisted dying' also apply to suicide. Suicidal people may also feel they are ‘suffering unbearably’ and without hope. They may also feel it’s ‘their body, their choice’ and that they want to ‘choose when to die’. They may also feel they are exercising their ‘right to die’. Indeed, rights apply to everyone, regardless of health status or age.

“'Assisted dying’ slogans are counter-productive to our quest to lower the suicide rate in New Zealand,” says Ms Joubert.

The Health Select Committee is currently investigating the legalisation of 'assisted dying' within the wider context of suicide. More information about how to make a submission is available at suicideinquiry.nz.

Assisted suicide legislation contradicts suicide prevention

Thursday, 10 September 2015
Press Release: Euthanasia Free NZ

Assisted suicide legislation contradicts suicide prevention

Euthanasia-Free NZ supports World Suicide Prevention Day (10 September) and welcomes the plans by District Health Boards to improve the ways they prevent and respond to suicide.

New Zealand’s high suicide rate, especially among young people, Maori and the elderly, is of grave concern. In addition, the suicide rate in rural Waikato has tripled and some expect the number of suicides in farming communities to increase even further this year.

Euthanasia-Free NZ agrees with Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman that “reducing suicide rates requires coordinated action at a national and local level”. Such coordinated action includes upholding the current legislation that prohibits the encouragement and facilitation of suicide.

Legalising “assisted dying” or “end of life choice” (euphemisms for assisted suicide), would send conflicting messages about suicide: that some suicides are to be prevented and others are to be assisted. Arguments for legal “assisted dying” affirm assisted suicide as an acceptable solution to unbearable life-problems. But surely every suicide, whether assisted or lone, is the outcome of perceived unbearable suffering by a person? So what would be the point of encouraging one and discouraging the other?

Link to the original.

New Zealand government does not support assisted suicide

Prime Minister John Key

Prime Minister John Key

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The New Zealand media reported that the government will establish a "select committee" on euthanasia and assisted suicide, but it is not backing a bill to legalize assisted suicide.

The media reported that:

Prime Minister John Key is backing a select committee inquiry, but said a law change will only be debated if a members bill is submitted and drawn from the ballot. 
Key said some National MPs are deeply opposed to assisted death, and he doesn't think it would make it out of backroom discussion. 
"I don't think that we would, but some caucuses might, depending on the size of them and the sort of nature and make of them."

The New Zealand High Court decided on Friday, June 5 that only parliament can change the assisted suicide law.

Euthanasia Free New Zealand and Not Dead Yet - Aotea

The 2015 HOPE International Symposium on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

The Fourth International Symposium on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide is hosted by HOPE Australia on May 22 - 23, 2015 at the Rydges Hotel South Park in Adelaide South Australia.

Register for the 2015 HOPE International Symposium.

The 2015 HOPE International Symposium is hosted by HOPE Australia, and co-sponsored by theEuthanasia Prevention Coalition - InternationalEuthanasia-Free New Zealand, the disability rights group - Lives Worth Living, and Doctors Opposed to Euthanasia.

The speakers include:

  • Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) and Chair, EPC - International,
  • Paul Russell, Director, HOPE Australia and Vice Chair, EPC - International,
  • Renee Joubert, Director, Euthanasia-Free New Zealand,
  • Craig Wallace, Convenor, Lives Worth Living, a network of people with disabilities,
  • Nic Steenhout, Director, Vivre dans la dignité Quebec.
  • enk Reitsma, Board member, EPC - International and an expert on the Netherlands Euthanasia statistics.
  • Tom Mortier, Chemistry professor in Belgium. His depresed mother died by euthanasia in 2012. 
  • Professor Theo Boer, former member of a Dutch Euthanasia Regional Review Committee.
  • Nancy Elliott, Board member, EPC - International and a past three term New Hampshire state representative.
  • Sue Hanson, co-chair NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation - Palliative Care Network
  • Dr Paul Dunne, a leading Palliative Care Medical Specialist in Australia.
  • Brendan Malone, from New Zealand, is a dynamic speaker on youth, culture and media.

This is the first International Symposium hosted in the southern hemisphere by EPC - International. Previous symposia were held in Toronto, Washington, Vancouver, Edinburgh.

Register for the 2015 HOPE International Symposium.

Labour Party drops euthanasia bill in New Zealand

euthanasia free new zealand logo.png

Euthanasia-Free NZ congratulates Labour leader Andrew Little and MP Iain Lees-Galloway for resisting sponsorship of the ex-Maryan Street voluntary euthanasia bill.

The End-of-Life Choice Bill proposes legal assisted suicide and euthanasia for anyone over 18 who has either a terminal condition which could end their life in 12 months, or an irreversible physical or mental medical condition that the person feels makes their life unbearable. It would effectively legalise euthanasia for anyone with a chronic physical or mental illness, disability, ageing-related condition or any condition for which a person refuses further treatment. 

"Public support for voluntary euthanasia is overestimated and based on unscientific online polls that ask an uninformed public to respond to leading questions couched in euphemisms”, says Renée Joubert, executive officer of Euthanasia-Free NZ. 

“Hence, many people confuse “assisted dying” (a euphemism) with switching off life support, withdrawing or refusing treatment and ‘do-not-resuscitate’ orders. However, euthanasia actually involves a doctor administering lethal drugs by injection in a way similar to overseas executions. Assisted suicide involves a person swallowing lethal drugs prescribed by their doctor.”

Link to the full article

Assisted suicide 'a stepping stone'

By Renee Joubert

I know first-hand how painful it is to watch a loved one deteriorate and die.

falling.jpg

However, I feel frustrated by the emphasis the current assisted suicide debate puts on the terminally ill.

Rhetoric about how the terminally ill need assisted dying is only a way to manipulate our emotions and soften up society for the real agenda: legal assisted suicide for everyone. The pro-euthanasia lobby wants suicide to be regarded as normal, acceptable and rational. Their only objection is that "suicide is violent" - not that it's to be prevented and discouraged in principle. In fact, it should be facilitated for anyone who "wants to die".

Recently euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke appealed his medical deregistration in response to his involvement in the suicide of a 45-year old depressed but healthy man. Nitschke's lawyer said in his opening address, the case was about "the dangerous idea [of] whether a person who is contemplating rational suicide ought to be required by a medical doctor not to do so".

He implied that if a person had a good reason to want to die, a doctor should not intervene.

Link to the full article.

Press Release from Euthanasia-Free New Zealand

A Press Release from Euthanasia-Free NZ

Friday 14 November 2014

Euthanasia-Free NZ oppose any move to legalise euthanasia or assisted suicide in New Zealand, because such laws will pose significant dangers. By “euthanasia” we are referring to the intentional killing of a person, usually by administering a lethal drug.

Nowhere in the world has legal assisted suicide and euthanasia been contained and regulated effectively. Safeguards have been ignored and flouted. For example, a primary requirement by the Belgian law is a voluntary written request. Nevertheless, according to a 2010 study, 32% of reported euthanasia cases in Flanders, Belgium, occurred without any explicit request.

Link to the full Press Release.