Unassisted Suicides Increase in Victoria, Australia, After Assisted Dying is Legalised

New research published in the Journal of Ethics in Mental Health (accessible here) has found that following the introduction of assisted dying laws in Victoria Australia, the rate of ‘unassisted’ suicide has failed to decline.

Since assisted dying was legalised in 2017 and implemented in 2019, suicide among those aged over 65 in Victoria has increased by more than 50%. This is despite the claim before legalisation that “50 people a year” with a terminal illness were dying by suicide in Victoria because they did not have access to assisted dying services.

Suicides in Victoria increased from 102 in 2018 to 156 in 2022, according to figures from the Victoria Suicide Register.

Furthermore, while suicides increased among the elderly, who are more directly affected by VAD, suicides did not increase among those below the age of 65. The increase in elderly suicide was also much larger than the increase in elderly suicide in neighbouring New South Wales, which only implemented VAD in November 2023.

The study found that, rather than 50 fewer suicides a year among elderly people in Victoria, there was an increase of 54 a year, i.e. one more suicide per week.