Suicides, Assisted Suicides and ‘Mercy Killings’: Would Voluntary Assisted Dying Prevent These ‘Bad Deaths’?
Voluntary assisted dying (‘VAD’) has recently been legalised in Victoria and Western Australia, with other Australian states following. One argument advanced in favour of legalisation of VAD is that terminally and chronically ill people are committing suicide, or asking friends or relatives to assist them to die, because they feel that they have no alternative. This article evaluates whether the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017 (Vic) will prevent these ‘bad deaths’ from occurring. The article evaluates two important sources of evidence: coronial evidence from Victoria and Western Australia concerning suicides in the chronically and terminally ill; and Australian cases on assisted suicide and ‘mercy killings’. It concludes that many of these cases would not have met the eligibility criteria for VAD under the Victorian model, and thus ‘bad deaths’ will continue to occur.