“We welcome the release of these figures by the ONS, which no doubt advocates of assisted suicide and euthanasia will claim support their calls for a change in the law – but they do not.”
Date: Wednesday 20th April 2022
Release time: Immediate
Care Not Killing responds to publication of ONS figures on suicides among people diagnosed with severe health conditions
Responding to the publication of the ONS figures on suicides among people diagnosed with severe health condition in England, Dr Gordon Macdonald, Chief Executive of Care Not Killing, commented: "We welcome the release of these figures by the ONS, which no doubt advocates of assisted suicide and euthanasia will claim support their calls for a change in the law - but they do not.
"We know from dozens of published reports there is a clear link between getting a terminal diagnosis and treatable clinical depression. Indeed, a major review of the academic literature from the American Psychiatric Association found as many as eight in 10 patients suffer from treatable depression especially in the first year after diagnosis. Clearly this problem is compounded by a failure to offer the right level of care and support to vulnerable men and women at their time of need.
"This is exactly what we see in jurisdictions around the world that have legalised either assisted suicide or euthanasia. In the US State of Oregon for example, six in ten (59 per cent) of those ending their lives with a terminal diagnosis in 2019 cited the fear of being a burden on their families, friends and caregivers as a reason for seeking death and a further 7.4 per cent cited financial worries.
"While legalising Physician Assisted Suicide seems to have normalised suicide in the general population. When experts conducted a study on Oregon they concluded that legalising assisted suicide was associated with an increase of 6.3 per cent in the numbers of suicides, once all other factors had been controlled. Among over 65s the figure was more than double that. Further studies have found a similar picture in the Netherlands, Belgium and in other places that have introduced state backed killing, putting a sword to the lie that legalising assisted suicide and euthanasia reduces the number of people committing suicide."
Dr Macdonald concluded: "There are other problems with changing the law and prescribing a lethal cocktail of drugs to kill themselves or to be killed. Testimony from Professor Joel Zivot, casts doubt on the myth of a quick and painless death. Evidence from Tennessee which uses the same drugs to kill people on death row as the ones used in Oregon suggest the inmates die from drowning in their own secretions or what doctors call a pulmonary oedema. The Professor goes on to explain why in US executions, even though the person is sedated first, before the lethal cocktail of drugs is administered, the authorities must strap down both the person's hands and even their fingers to stop them moving.
"No, these ONS figures suggest that much more work needs to be done to support dying and vulnerable people by providing them with universal access to treatment for both their physical and psychological needs. This means extending high quality palliative care to all those who need it, not reaching for a cheap short-term solution of facilitating a rise in people committing suicide or having their lives ended by the state."
Care Not Killing is a UK-based alliance bringing together human rights and disability rights organisations, health care and palliative care groups, faith-based organisations groups, and thousands of concerned individuals.
We have three key aims:
*As this story is dealing with suicide, please could we ask that you include details about organisations that offer help and support to vulnerable people who might be feeling suicidal such as the Samaritans, CALM or similar - Thank you.*