Debates about assisted suicide in Switzerland

Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2012 Dec;33(4):410-3. doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e318273b83f.


Assisted suicide is allowed in 3 states of the United States (Oregon, Washington, Montana) but only if performed by a physician.On the opposite, in Switzerland, at the beginning of the 20th century, the Swiss Penal Code referred to assisted suicide in the context of honor or an unhappy love affair. It was only in 1985 that Exit Deutsche Schweiz (Exit for German-speaking Switzerland) "medically" assisted the first patient to end his life.Even if authorized by the Swiss law upon certain conditions, assisted suicide is subject to debates for ethical reasons. The Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences described directives to guide physicians on this difficult subject.Different studies showed an increase in the number of medical-assisted suicide in Switzerland since the 1990s. Now, this number seems to be quite stable. Assisted suicide is authorized in a few hospitals under strict conditions (especially when returning home is impossible).Thus, according to the Swiss law, any person could perform assisted suicide; this is essentially performed by 3 main associations, using pentobarbital on medical prescription as lethal substance.Generally speaking, the Swiss population is rather in favor of assisted suicide. Among politics, the debate has been tough until 2010, when the Federal Council decided not to modify the Swiss Penal Code concerning assisted suicide.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Codes of Ethics
  • Humans
  • Organizations, Nonprofit
  • Physician's Role
  • Politics
  • Public Opinion
  • Right to Die
  • Societies, Medical
  • Suicide, Assisted / ethics*
  • Suicide, Assisted / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Switzerland