Announcement of assisted suicide bill on World Mental Health Day ‘saddening’

An expert on disability policy says he’s “saddened” by an announcement, on World Mental Health Day 2022, that a bill to permit state-assisted suicides will move forward in Scotland.

This morning, it was announced that a member’s bill – the ‘Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults (Scotland) Bill – has achieved enough signatures to be formally introduced at Holyrood.

If passed, the bill would make it legal for people in Scotland with a terminal illness to be prescribed lethal drugs by healthcare providers, so that they can take end their own lives.

The Better Way campaign, a group of academics, disability activists and expert medics, opposes the bill arguing that laws overseas have expanded and given rise to serious injustices.

Speaking this morning Dr Miro Griffiths, an expert on disability policy and spokesman for Better Way, expressed sadness about the announcement:

“It’s saddening that the passage of this proposal has been confirmed on World Mental Health Day 2022, a time when we affirm the positive steps taken in our society to remove stigma around mental health issues and encourage people to speak up.

Promoting the mental wellness and flourishing of human beings means holding to a consistent standard regarding the value of human life. A standard that says people ought to be protected, respected, encouraged, and supported amid life’s various trials.

‘Assisted dying’ wholly undermines this standard by creating a pernicious exception where some people, coping with some circumstances, get no help. They are condemned to a cruel death via a cocktail of drugs. This isn’t compassion. And it isn’t dignified.

In nations where assisted suicide and euthanasia are legal, we have seen an undeniable lapse in the value ascribed to human beings. Disabled people and people with mental health conditions are not given the respect, protection, and affirmation they deserve.

Championing the mental health of citizens means affirming their inherent dignity and walking through hard seasons with them. Enabling light in the darkness. It does not mean state-sanctioned suicide. We earnestly call on MSPs not to enable this.”

The Better Way campaign is supported by:

Dr Miro Griffiths, Leverhulme Research Fellow in Disability Studies at the University of Leeds, and policy adviser to regional, national, and supranational bodies;

Phil Friend, Chair of Research Institute for Disabled Consumers (RIDC), Vice Chair of the Activity Alliance, a Churchill Fellow and a former chair of Disability Rights UK and RADAR;

Dr Kevin Yuill, a lecturer in History at the University of Sunderland and author of Assisted Suicide: The Liberal, Humanist Case Against Legalisation;

Dr Ashley Frawley, senior lecturer in sociology and social policy at Swansea University in Wales;

David Albert Jones MA (Cantab), MA, MSt, DPhil (Oxon), Professor of Bioethics at St Mary’s University, a Research Fellow at Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford, and Director of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre;

Joel Zivot MD, FRCP(C) MA, practicing anesthesiologist, intensive care doctor and expert witness.

If you’re feeling like you want to die, it’s important to tell someone.

Help and support is available right now if you need it. You do not have to struggle with difficult feelings alone.

Phone a helpline

These free helplines are there to help when you’re feeling down or desperate.

Unless it says otherwise, they’re open 24 hours a day, every day.

You can also call these helplines for advice if you’re worried about someone else.

Samaritans – for everyone
Call 116 123

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM)
Call 0800 58 58 58 – 5pm to midnight every day
Visit the webchat page

Papyrus – for people under 35
Call 0800 068 41 41 – 9am to midnight every day
Text 07860 039967

Childline – for children and young people under 19
Call 0800 1111 – the number will not show up on your phone bill

SOS Silence of Suicide – for everyone
Call 0300 1020 505 – 4pm to midnight every day