Intended for healthcare professionals


Guidelines spell out when someone assisting a suicide risks prosecution

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 24 September 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b3935
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. 1BMJ

    Close friends or relatives who, from wholly compassionate motives, help a terminally ill or severely disabled loved one who is determined to die are unlikely to be prosecuted in England and Wales for assisting a suicide, under guidelines issued by the director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer.

    Mr Starmer launched a 12 week consultation on the guidelines, which will operate on an interim basis from 23 September, with a final version to be published next spring.

    Assisting a suicide remains a criminal offence and the guidelines give no immunity from prosecution but spell out 16 factors that will weigh in favour of prosecution, and 13 factors inclining against it when deciding whether a prosecution would be in the public interest. …

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