Assisted suicide: why psychiatrists should engage in the debate

Br J Psychiatry. 2011 Feb;198(2):83-4. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.110.083634.


There is an increasing appetite for a change in the law to allow assisted suicide. This editorial suggests that psychiatrists should engage in the debate because the issues at stake will affect us, and we are likely to have a significant part to play were the law to be changed. We suggest that there are three main areas where psychiatrists' expertise may be informative: (a) the extent to which safeguards to limit the availability of assisted dying to target groups can be applied safely and fairly, including to individuals with psychiatric disorders; (b) the complexities inherent in assessing mental capacity; and (c) the degree to which individuals adapt or change their desires, particularly in relation to suicidal behaviours.

Publication types

  • Editorial

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • England
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychiatry*
  • Suicide, Assisted / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Suicide, Assisted / psychology