Intended for healthcare professionals


Doctors face greater risk of prosecution than the public for assisting suicide

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 26 February 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c1167
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. 1BMJ

    Doctors face a greater risk of prosecution if they assist a patient to commit suicide than do the individual’s family members or friends, under final guidelines on assisting a suicide in England and Wales issued by the director of public prosecutions.

    The decision to make it a factor in favour of prosecution that the suspect was a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional caring for the person who committed suicide is a change from the interim policy, issued last September, which treated doctors and nurses the same as anybody else (BMJ 24 September 2009, doi:10.1136/bmj.b3935).

    The final guidance follows nearly 5000 responses to interim guidance outlining the factors that would influence the chief prosecutor in deciding whether or not to prosecute for assisting a suicide, a crime in England and Wales carrying a maximum sentence of 14 years in jail.

    The director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer, was …

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