Media Release – 6 October 2015
According to the 2014-2015 Annual Provisional Suicide Figures a total of 564 New Zealanders ended their own lives – the highest number ever recorded. The 20-24 age group led with 61 deaths, followed by the 40-44 cohort with 58 deaths.
The Maori suicide rate (21.74 per 100,000), representing 130 deaths in the past year, is also the highest ever recorded. Of these, 93 were committed by males.
“It would be a step in the wrong direction to legalise assisted suicide”, warns Renee Joubert, Executive Officer of Euthanasia-Free NZ. “Such a law would communicate the message that ending one’s life is an acceptable solution to life’s problems. If doctors would be allowed to prescribe or administer lethal drugs, the State would effectively become an endorser and facilitator of suicide.”
Last May the Scottish Parliament rejected the legalisation of assisted suicide. The Scottish Parliament Health and Sport Committee acknowledged that the ‘assisted dying’ debate “forms part of how we talk about suicide“. It concluded in an official report on the Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill:
“The Committee considers that legislation to permit assisted suicide seems discordant with a wider policy of suicide prevention, in two ways.
“First, because it involves differentiating between the majority of circumstances in which suicide is to be regarded as a tragedy and prevented wherever possible, and some circumstances in which suicide is to be regarded as a reasonable choice to be facilitated and supported; this risks sending negative messages to, and about, those who would be eligible for assistance under the legislation.
“Second, because legislating to permit assisted suicide could have a corrosive effect on the central suicide prevention message by “normalising” suicide and seeming to endorse it.” (Paragraphs 311-313)
Euthanasia-Free NZ encourages New Zealanders to engage in the first ever national investigation into suicide. The Health Select Committee is asking for the public’s views on the following terms of reference:
- The factors that contribute to the desire to end one’s life.
- The effectiveness of services and support available to those who desire to end their own lives.
- The attitudes of New Zealanders towards the ending of one’s life and the current legal situation.
- Overseas experiences.
More information on how to make submissions is available at suicideinquiry.nz.