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Assisted Suicide


A person commits an offence under section 2 of the Suicide Act 1961 if he or she does an act capable of encouraging or assisting the suicide or attempted suicide of another person, and that act was intended to encourage or assist suicide or an attempt at suicide.

The CPS always seeks to ensure the law is correctly applied, and to charge someone with a criminal offence prosecutors must be satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction, and that a prosecution is in the public interest.

Such cases are by their very nature complex and sensitive, not least due to the tragic events that surround them. Conduct in these cases can range from circumstances where a victim is being pressured to end their life, to actions wholly motivated by compassion.

The CPS has published guidance for prosecutors when considering such cases. This includes specific public interest factors tending in favour of prosecution and those tending against prosecution. The list is not exhaustive. Each case must be considered on its own merits, and they are always dealt with by Specialist Prosecutors within the CPS, and the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is required before a prosecution can commence.

Our published guidance is available here: Suicide: Policy for Prosecutors in respect of Cases of Encouraging or Assisting Suicide

Also available to download as an Adobe Acrobat PDF:

Policy for Prosecutors in respect of Cases of Encouraging or Assisting Suicide PDF

Polisi i Erlynyddion Yn ymwneud ag Achosion o Annog neu Gynorthwyo Hunan Laddiad - dogfen PDF

Further information about the public interest stage of Full Code Test is available here: The Code for Crown Prosecutors.

Latest Assisted Suicide Figures

This information will next be updated in April 2025, and thereafter in April of each year.

Update as of 31 March 2024:

From 1 April 2009 up to 31 March 2024, our manual records indicate there have been 187 cases referred to the CPS by the police that have been recorded as assisted suicide. Of these 187 cases 127 were not proceeded with by the CPS and 36 cases were withdrawn by the police.

There are currently six ongoing cases. Four cases of encouraging or assisting suicide have been successfully prosecuted. One case of assisted suicide was charged and acquitted after trial in May 2015 and eight cases were referred onwards for prosecution for homicide or other serious crime.

The CPS collects data to assist in the effective management of its prosecution functions. The CPS does not collect data that constitutes official statistics as defined in the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007. Official statistics relating to sentencing, criminal court proceedings, offenders brought to justice, the courts and the judiciary are maintained by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ).

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