LifeLine International’s position statement on the decriminalisation of suicide

  • Closeup of diverse people joining their hands

September 2023

Executive summary

Suicide is a priority public health concern for all countries. Suicide is a global leading cause of death. No one wants lives lost to suicide nor the tragic impact of a suicide on those who are left behind.

Lifeline International believes in a world where access to quality suicide prevention support is available and its use openly encouraged.

Laws against suicide are barriers to people talking about their suicidal thoughts or seeking help. They foster social stigma towards people who deserve instead our compassion, understanding and help.

Expressions of suicidal thoughts and plans are expressions of suffering and distress which should be met with compassion, understanding and the offer of help. It is better to name suicidal thoughts and talk about them rather than keep them secret and maintain a silence which creates feelings of shame, withdrawal, and a profound loss of hope.

Suicide is preventable. Dying by suicide is not the only, nor the best, response to the deep pain and despair that a person experiences when contemplating to end their life.

Support in a time of suicidal crisis saves lives. The simple act of an engagement with another person can interrupt the suicidal state and alter the trajectory in a person’s life.

Action taken to provide meaningful community support for people experiencing distress and struggling to cope with difficulties in their lives will contribute to suicide prevention. Access to quality mental health care and psychosocial support will contribute to suicide prevention. The offer of support must be regarded as a safe and viable alternative to be accepted by those in need. There should be no detrimental consequences for people seeking that help.

Laws against suicide are not effective or compatible with contemporary suicide prevention strategies which encourage government and community action in a coordinated and multi-layered manner.


Position Statement on the Decriminalisation of Suicide (August 2023)

Read our CEO Thilini Perera’s reflections.