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SUICIDE

Switzerland ‘one of Europe’s suicide capitals’

Between 15,000 and 25,000 people attempt to kill themselves in Switzerland every year, according to a new survey, confirming Switzerland's place as one of the suicide capitals of Europe.

 

The number of actual deaths from suicide is about 1,000 per year, a number that represents three times the number of deaths through road traffic accidents, newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung reported.

“We are one of the countries which traditionally has the highest figures in suicides. Not everybody is happy here,” Ambros Uchtenhagen, Professor Emeritus for Social Psychiatry at Zurich University told The Local.

The survey, conducted by Swiss market research company Isopublic, found that many people were either ill-informed or had misconceptions about depression and suicide. For example, the report showed that many believe suicide to be a well thought out and planned act.

“A suicide is not a well-considered act, but a desperate act that the person would not have committed in a different situation,” Konrad Michel, psychiatric specialist at the University Hospital of Bern, told NZZ.

A new initiative called “Lean on me” has been launched. Supported by doctors and other health professionals, the initiative’s aim is to raise awareness about depression and suicide, and to highlight the fact that some 70 percent of suicide cases involve depression.

“Lean on me” also hopes to change the perception held by many of depression as something that the individual sufferer can overcome by himself. A better understanding of the illness is of great importance, particularly since many depressives do not share their suicidal thoughts.

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SUICIDE

Switzerland backs assisted suicide in prisons

Sick prisoners will be allowed to request assisted suicide in Switzerland although the modalities still have to be worked out, prison system officials said on Thursday.

Switzerland backs assisted suicide in prisons
Illustration photo: AFP

The issue has come to the fore following a request made in 2018 by a convict behind bars for life, which exposed a legal vacuum in a country that has long been at the forefront of the global right-to-die debate.

Switzerland's cantons, which implement prison sentences, have agreed “on the principle that assisted suicide should be possible inside prisons,” the Conference of Cantonal Departments of Justice and Police said.

Conference director Roger Schneeberger told AFP that there were still differences between cantons on how assisted suicides could be carried out in prisons and a group of experts would issue recommendations by November.

Swiss law generally allows assisted suicide if the person commits the lethal act themselves — meaning doctors cannot administer deadly injections, for example — and the person consistently and independently articulates a wish to die.

Organisations that support assisted suicide also apply their own procedures, which are more robust than the legal requirements and sometimes require the person who is requesting it to have a serious illness.

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