9 September 2021
This report is designed as a tool for campaigners and advocates seeking to decriminalise suicide. Today there is an historic opportunity to press for such reform in light of commitments by countries around the world to achieving the 17 SDGs, along with the targets of the WHO Mental Health Action Plan, and for most countries, their obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Moreover, other countries have already decriminalised suicide so there are examples of how to do so successfully. This report surveys the countries where suicide is a criminal offence and explains what the repercussions are for someone who attempts suicide, and their friends and family. It looks at what the law says in each country and whether there are efforts to reform it. In recent years many countries have made progress in their efforts to reduce the rate of death by suicide. But suicide still remains a criminal offence in 20 countries, with some laws dating as far back as 160 years ago. The criminalisation of suicide is counter productive. It does not deter people from taking their lives, but it does deter them from seeking help in a moment of acute crisis and potentially placing them in facilities where they may not receive the support they need. This report: Surveys the legal structures in countries where suicide is a criminal offence; Explains what the repercussions are for someone who attempts suicide, and their friends and family; and Explores what the law says in each country and whether there are efforts to reform it. We hope that the publication of this report will help those campaigning for decriminalisation of suicide make progress and ensure that everyone, everywhere, who needs support for their mental health before, during and after a suicidal crisis can access it, free of stigma and discrimination.