Suicide remains illegal in at least 20 countries worldwide and attempted suicide is punishable under Sharia law in a further 20 countries1. The World Health Organization (WHO) Global Report (WHO, 2014) found no empirical evidence that decriminalising suicidal behaviours leads to an increase in suicide rates, and urges countries to "review their legal provisions in relation to suicide to ensure they do not deter people from seeking help" (p. 51). Decriminalisation is a stepping stone in the prevention of suicide and requires the accompaniment of multilevel prevention efforts.
IASP supports the decriminalisation of suicide and suicidal behaviour so as not to penalise those who attempt suicide or the families who lose someone through suicide. A fundamental part of IASP's global policy and advocacy work aims to strengthen the forum of expertise who can provide a range of support in the development of global policies and national strategies.
Through the IASP Special Working Group (SWG) on the Decriminalisation of Suicide, IASP aims to identify, and support the implementation of, effective approaches to advocating for the decriminalisation of suicidal behaviour (suicide and attempted suicide) to relevant international and national authorities (e.g., WHO, governments, professional associations, NGOs etc.)
IASP's recent policy position on the decriminalisation of suicide will serve advocates for decriminalisation, policy makers, other international organisations, NGOs and also government. The document outlines the current status of attempted suicide, presents the arguments for and against decriminalisation, discusses the challenges of decriminalisation and outlines the roles of stakeholders in decriminalising suicidal behaviour.
1 Mishara, B. L., Weisstub, D.N. (2016). The legal status of suicide: a global review. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 44: 54-74.
World Health Organization (WHO) (2014) Preventing suicide. A global imperative. World Health Organization: Geneva. Available at: http://www.who.int/mental_health/suicide-prevention/world_report_2014/en/