Psychiatrists express their deep concerns about the proposals to introduce assisted suicide.

If you are a psychiatrist in the UK, you can add your name below the letter

Dear Politicians

As psychiatrists, we have extensive experience of assessing those who express the wish to die and we are writing to express our deep concerns about proposals to introduce assisted suicide in the UK.

Many people with even severe mental illnesses can disguise their illness for the duration of an hour’s psychiatric assessment. Depression is common in terminal and chronic illness, often vocalised as feeling their family will be better off without them or feeling unworthy of care. In Oregon, the proportion of patients requesting euthanasia who admitted “feeling a burden” was 53% in 2020. [1]

Such legislation cuts a policy hole in suicide prevention, by saying that some people should be helped to end their lives against an arbitrary set of criteria.

We know from both personal and professional experience that the most distressing time is often at the time of a terminal diagnosis, yet most people go on to find meaning and pleasure in life and relationships.

Jurisdictions where ‘assisted dying’ has been legalised have experienced a slow widening of the criteria brought by successive legal challenges. Canada widened its legislation to include those not terminally ill last year and those with serious mental illness in 2027.

In Oregon, the referral for psychiatric opinion to exclude treatable mental conditions falls far below the expected incidence of remediable depression in this group of patients.

The argument for physician assisted suicide is being championed by people who are educated and articulate, whereas the dangers affect those least able to speak up for themselves. To protect those vulnerable and voiceless people, we need to maintain the law as it stands.

Yours sincerely,

If you are a psychiatrist in the UK, please sign our Letter to Politicians to oppose any move to assisted suicide

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