Euthanasia and assisted suicide

The NHS website notes that assisted suicide is illegal under the Suicide Act 1961 and is punishable by up to 14 years' imprisonment (though trying to kill yourself is not a criminal act) and euthanasia is either manslaughter or murder with the maximum penalty being life imprisonment.


Need to update the following:

  • R (Purdy) v DPP [2009] UKHL 45 led to the DPP issuing its Policy for Prosecutors in Respect of Cases of Encouraging or Assisting Suicide on 25/2/10. The CPS is consulted on interim guidance from 23/9/09 to 16/12/09. The final guidance was published on 25/2/10.


The Coroners and Justice Act 2009 amends the law on suicide with effect from 1/2/10. The amendments made by s59 Coroners and Justice Act 2009 to s2 Suicide Act 1961 are explained in MoJ Circular 2010/03 below.

See also

  • Euthanasia of mentally ill people. Karandeep Sonu Gaind, 'Canada delays expanding medical assistance in dying to include mental illness, but it's still a policy built on quicksand' (The Conversation, 15/12/22) — Amendments to Canada's "medical assistance in dying" ("MAID") law on 17/3/21 stated that those whose only medical condition is a mental illness, and who otherwise meet all eligibility criteria, would not be eligible until 17/3/23. On 15/12/22 the government announced a temporary delay, to allow the healthcare system more time to prepare, and to allow the government more time to consider the February 2023 final report of the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying. This article argues: "When provided to help avoid a painful death for those who are dying, we can distinguish MAID from suicide. Yet when expanded to those seeking death for mental illness, evidence shows MAID becomes indistinguishable from suicide. We cannot differentiate those seeking psychiatric euthanasia from suicidal individuals who resume fulfilling lives after being provided suicide prevention, rather than facilitated death. ... To proceed with the planned changes would have been morally, medically and politically irresponsible. Moving forward, it will be important to ensure our future policies are evidence-based. Fortunately, the situation is not yet irremediable."

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