Assisted suicide cause contradicts suicide prevention – psychiatrist

Assisted suicide cause contradicts suicide prevention – psychiatrist Prof. Patricia Casey of UCD

A leading psychiatrist has warned that the assisted suicide movement is undermining suicide support organisations and others who strive to prevent suicide.

“It’s a contradiction for commentators to say on the one hand that we must do everything we can to prevent suicide but on the other hand to say that in certain circumstances it’s okay,” Prof. Patricia Casey of UCD and the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital told The Irish Catholic, explaining that the assisted suicide movement gives “a very damaging message to those who are trying to prevent suicide because it is saying that in some instances when life gets tough, suicide is acceptable”.

Prof. Casey was responding to comments by Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, who at a Mass in Lucan, Co. Dublin to mark the 10th anniversary of suicide support organisation Pieta House, said it would be dishonest of him to deny how the Church in Ireland had in the past “contributed greatly to the level of taboo which surrounded suicide”.

Agreeing that Church teaching was certainly “one of the contributory factors” towards taboos around suicide, Prof. Casey pointed out such taboos were an international phenomenon and one that was as common in British and American society as in Ireland.

“People feared suicide, they didn’t know how to deal with it,” she said, adding that “all the Churches regarded suicide as a sin because the underpinnings of suicide weren’t understood”.


Research into suicide over recent decades has changed how we understand the phenomenon, she said, and as it has become increasingly discussed, “the days of it being taboo are gone”.

She cautioned however, against talking of suicide in such a way that it “becomes normalised and even turned into a right that people should have to engage in if they wish”, adding that “if we valorise suicide or assisted suicide, there’s a significant risk of copycat effects”.

Urging people to “tread very carefully in all of this debate, so we don’t even consider assisted suicide”, she said people should focus on getting the message out “that suicide shouldn’t be an option and people should be helped through the black patches in their lives not by ending it but with appropriate intervention and support systems”.