Poll shows elderly are the least keen on legalising assisted suicide

The highest level of support, 79%, comes from respondents aged 35-44, with the lowest level of support, 70%, coming from respondents aged 65 and over.

A ComRes poll for tonight’s Panorama has found that 73 per cent of men and 75 per cent of women support assisted suicide for people who have a painful illness or condition from which they will die.

The underlying data, however, shows that support varies slightly across age groups.

The highest level of support, 79 per cent, comes from respondents aged 35-44, with the lowest level of support, 70 per cent, coming from respondents aged 65 and over. This may well come as a surprise when it is considered that people in this age group are the most likely to be in poor health and to wish to commit assisted suicide themselves.

Geographically, the highest level of support for assisted suicide for people with terminal illnesses, 82 per cent, comes from respondents in Wales; the lowest level, 67 per cent, came from the south-east of England.

The poll also found that support for assisted suicide without prosecution of medical professionals dropped significantly in cases where illness was painful and incurable but not terminal. In such cases, only 44 per cent of men and 45 per cent of women supported assisted suicide without prosecution of medical professionals.

As if to highlight the high levels of public support for assisted suicide shown by the poll, the author Sir Terry Pratchett, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, has said that he would like to see tribunals being set up to help people with incurable diseases commit assisted suicide with help from doctors.

He is due to give the Richard Dimbleby lecture this evening. In the lecture, titled Shaking Hands With Death, he will say that “the time is really coming” for assisted suicide to be legalised.

Explaining how the suggested tribunals would work, Sir Terry told the BBC that:

“I think it would be rather better if a person wishes to die, they could go see the tribunal with friends and relatives and present their case – at least if it happens, it happens with, as it were, authority.”

• Tonight’s edition of Panorama, I Helped My Daughter To Die, will be on BBC1 at 8:30.

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6 Responses to “Poll shows elderly are the least keen on legalising assisted suicide”

  1. James Hepplestone

    *Shakes fist* Martin Amis! RT @leftfootfwd: Poll shows elderly are the least keen on legalising assisted suicide http://bit.ly/bTI1Ht

  2. Sophia Collins

    Funny that RT @leftfootfwd: Poll shows elderly are the least keen on legalising assisted suicide http://bit.ly/bTI1Ht

  3. sarah

    For those who are interested, here’s a link to a piece I wrote on this topic for Pickled Politics last week: http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/7296

  4. Mr. Sensible

    In my own opinion, I think those who think their situation has become unbarable should have the right to end it.

    Yet, critics have raized the risk of abuse, so that’s why I think these tribunals may not be a bad idea.

  5. Christian Guthier

    Not everybody will die a horrible death. So not everybody will be interested in assisted suicide. Especially as you’re getting older and you’re feeling confident which way you might die… Very morbid discussion.

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