Supplementary Order Paper No 216

Explanatory note

This Supplementary Order Paper amends the End of Life Choice Bill. It seeks to prevent detailed and inappropriate publicity and coverage of individual assisted deaths. As with restrictions on reporting on deaths by suicide, it is important not to report widely the details and methods of assisted deaths or encourage inappropriate ideation in the minds of those people who may wish to end their own lives but do not qualify for assisted dying.

To accomplish this, this amendment introduces a restriction on publication of the method of a death in accordance with this Bill, as well as any detail that would make obvious the method, unless it is necessary for the purposes of the required information gathering and reporting mandated under the Bill. A process for exemption from this restriction is also introduced through the registrar (assisted dying) established by clause 21, where the registrar may give an exemption where they are satisfied that there is not an undue risk of suicide imitation or that public interest outweighs that risk.

Evidence from the United States finds “the introduction of [Physician Assisted Suicide] seemingly induces more self-inflicted deaths than it inhibits. Furthermore, although a significant proportion of nonassisted suicides involve chronic or terminal illness, especially in those older than age 65, the available evidence does not support the conjecture that legalising assisted suicide would lead to a reduction in nonassisted suicides. This suggests either that [Physician Assisted Suicide] does not inhibit (nor acts as an alternative to) nonassisted suicide or that it acts in this way in some individuals but is associated with an increased inclination to suicide in others.”1

1 Jones, D., & Paton, D. (2015). How Does Legalization of Physician-Assisted Suicide Affect Rates of Suicide? Southern Medical Journal 17(10), 509-604.