Victorian suicide rate jumps 21.2%

In 2017 there 694 cases of suicide in Victoria. In 2020 there were 842. This is an increase of 21.2%

What has led to this startling increase?

From 19 June 2019 Victorians wishing to commit suicide could arrange to have a lethal dose of pentobarbital delivered to them by the Statewide Pharmacy Service based at the Alfred Hospital. All they needed was a VADSAP - a suicide permit - issued by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

A VADSAP is a 'voluntary assisted dying self-administration permit".

When arguing for the legalisation of State-approved and funded assistance to suicide, the Minister for Health and Human Services, the Hon Jull Hennessy, claimed that;

Evidence from the coroner indicated that one terminally ill Victorian was taking their life each week.

The Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017, which she introduced on behalf of Dan Andrews' Government, excluded deaths by self-administration of a "voluntary assisted dying substance" [the substance is a 15 g lethal dose of pentobarbital] for the purpose of causing a person's death from being considered as caused by suicide.

By a legal fiction such deaths are recorded as caused by the disease, illness or medical condition cited by a doctor in the application for a VADAP.

On this basis we could have expected a decrease of around 50 deaths by suicide each year now that these terminally ill Victorians had a State-approved and State-funded way to intentionally cause their own deaths by ingesting a lethal poison.

However, according to the Coroners Court of Victoria there were 694 deaths by suicide in Victoria in 2017.

There were slightly more - 698 - 2020, the first full calendar year in which State issued suicide permits (VADSAPSs) and the State-funded uber poison service were in operation.

So no decrease of 50 deaths by suicide each year.

Moreover for those who resist the Humpty Dumpty approach of words meaning whatever Humpty Dumpty says they mean, there were an additional 144 suicides - officially recorded by the Voluntary Assisted Dying Board as "Confirmed deaths - Medication [sic] was self-administered".

Adding these 144 State-approved, State-funded suicides by the ingestion of State-supplied lethal poison to the 698 suicides without such State approval and facilitation gives a real total of 842 - an increase of 21.2% on 2017. 

This confirms earlier evidence that legalising assistance to suicide increases the overall suicide rate 

Additionally, 31 Victorians were killed by injection of State-funded and supplied lethal poisons by a doctor who had been issued a VADPAP, a voluntary assisted dying physician administered permit, by the Secretary of the Department for Health and Human Services, specifically authorising the doctor to administer the poisons in order to cause the death of the person.

If these are added to the count of suicides - insofar as they are at least purported to be performed at the request of the person with the intention of causing that person's death - then the total for 2020 would be 873 - a 25.8% rise since 2017.

Other jurisdictions considering legalising assistance to suicide and euthanasia should consider this evidence and not be fooled by claims that this will prevent suicides.

If you or anyone you know needs help contact Lifeline on 13 11 14

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  • Richard Egan
    published this page in News 2021-03-06 15:39:18 +1100
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