Assisted suicide is being discussed in the Parliament. “If assisted suicide became normal, that would have consequences”, MPs say. Christians support the proposal.
After the decision on the assisted suicide taken by the German Constitutional Court on 2020, the German Bundestag (Parliament) is now discussing three draft laws on the subject.
The Court decriminalised professional assisted suicide throughout Germany, and allowed commercial companies to include these services in their catalogues of activities.
A group of MPs have warned that assisted suicide could become a normal form of dying, so that they call for an additional motion to prevent suicidal intentions and provide those willing to die with a self-determined life instead.
"Against the background of easier access to assisted suicide as well as due to psychological stress resulting from the Corona pandemic, it is necessary to further strengthen suicide prevention", pointed out parliamentarians Lars Castellucci (SPD) and Ansgar Heveling (CDU/CSU).
According to the latest data, over 9,000 people in Germany decide to commit suicide every year. About three times as many people die by suicide each year as die in traffic accidents. It is estimated that the number of suicide attempts is about ten times as high.
"Often, people with suicidal desires simply do not want to go on living the way they feel at the moment- It has to be about care, counselling and support - all things that are neglected in our hectic times”, Castellucci told German magazine PRO.
He, along with other MPs "want to do everything to ensure that people have the will to live or find it again, especially through other people".
"If assisted suicide became more and more normal, that would also have consequences for society as a whole: the pressure on vulnerable groups, especially the elderly, would increase", stressed Castellucci.
In their motion, the MPs also propose to make it more difficult to access lethal substances and suitable places to commit suicide. They suggest a nationwide suicide prevention service, which would provide 24-hour contact with trained staff and open up ways to help.
The German Evangelical Alliance (Evangelische Allianz, EAD) has supported the initiative. "As Christians, we have the responsibility to stand by people in situations of illness and crisis", underlined EAD policy officer, Uwe Heimowski.
“It has been part of the history of Christians for centuries to stand up for people who are physically and mentally ill”, he added.
EAD Chair Ekkehart Vetter called on Christian congregations and associations to address the issue of suicide prevention.
“It is important for Christians not only to be interested in current political debates, but also to put into practice initiatives like those in the motion. This includes theme evenings with suitable experts and initiatives through which people are encouraged to turn to people of trust in a life crisis", the EAD chair explained in a press release.
The German Catholic Caritas Association and evangelical Diakonie Germany recently call on the Bundestag to do more for suicide prevention instead of assisted suicide, in a joint press release.
"In the debate on assisted suicide, we have learned that we must make the topic of suicide discussable and do everything we can to get suicidal thoughts out of the taboo zone", said President of Diakonie, Ulrich Lilie.
According to Lilie, "a suicide prevention law is absolutely necessary and would be a strong social signal from parliament for an appropriate balance between protection of life and self-determination".