Claim that talk of euthanasia encourages suicides

Bob McCoskrie has made an odd claim about the euthanasia Parliamentary select committee discussions – he has suggested it is encouraging suicides, but he says there is no scientific basis for this.

NZ Herald: Talk of euthanasia encouraging suicides, conservative lobby group says

Bob McCoskrie, the national director for Family First, said today that suicides and attempted suicides appeared to peak every time Parliament debated a law change around assisted dying.

He acknowledged there was no scientific basis for his theory and that other factors could have contributed to the rise in suicides in 1995, 2003 and 2012, when Parliament considered bills or proposed bills on euthanasia.

“But it cannot ruled out that there is risk related to the increased publicity given to the idea of euthanasia and assisted suicide.”

Many things “can’t be ruled out” but making claims like this with nothing to substantiate it is poor in a submission from Family First.

It also can’t be ruled out that openly talking about euthanasia, and openly talking about suicide, helps lead to prevention of suicides.

McCoskrie made the comments to a select committee which is investigating public attitudes to voluntary euthanasia and deciding whether it should be legalised in New Zealand.

McCoskrie said any discussion of suicide should focus on prevention.

“In complete contrast, this inquiry is initiated and is driven by a desire to promote assisted suicide. You don’t discourage suicide by assisting suicide.”

The euthanasia discussions have only come up this year, and there are no recent statistics on suicide rates so it’s impossible to tell whether McCoskrie is right.

McCoskrie hasn’t attempted to analyse trends and patterns, but avoiding talking about suicide in public, as has been the norm in the past, has done nothing to stem the growing number of suicides in New Zealand.

When publishing items on suicide media commonly also publishes help line numbers and links to resources about suicide prevention. Trying to ignore a growing problem hasn’t worked.


One of the committee’s members, Labour MP Louisa Wall, said his argument was “fundamentally flawed” because he did not differentiate between medically-assisted dying and suicide.

“I don’t see them as congruent,” she said. “There is a huge contrast between people who are facing imminent death and people who are hopeless or depressed.”

“To say that someone like [euthanasia advocate] Lecretia Seales was committing suicide is just wrong.”

But to some people, like McCoskrie, anything other than letting life and death take it’s natural course is wrong.

Except that medical interventions that prolong life seem to have become acceptable.

Where to get help:

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

Leave a comment


  1. Kitty Catkin

     /  3rd November 2016

    He’s ignoring the fact that euthanasia/assisted suicide is generally considered to be for people with incurable illnesses, not (for example) depressed teenagers or people like a woman I knew who felt that she had nothing to live for. I have known several suicides, and all were different. One would have to know whether there was any pattern to the ones that increased the numbers.

  2. Maxim Institute launched more spurious arguments in this debate in Tuesday’s Northland Age as well, without any scientific evidence, like McCoskrie’s, and barely any moral or ethical basis either …

    They persist in talking about “euthanasia” and “assisted suicide” as often as possible, with all its implications of someone “doing it to you” – of perpetrator and victim – rather than it being a personal life choice supported by your doctor and at least one other doctor under strict medical and legal conditions, publicly reported annually and reviewed annually …

    And they fail to have any regard, let alone compassion for the numbers of people – their brethren – who end their own lives each year because of terminal illness anyway … often in horrendous circumstances and with tragic consequences for family and friends …

    @ PG – “Except that medical interventions that prolong life seem to have become acceptable.” A very good point PG!

    These hypocrits remind me of a Letter to the Editor in the same Northland Age issue crying “Go Tribal Huk … ” from someone calling themselves a Christian …

    End of Life Choice or Death with Dignity are the proper names for this …

    • Gezza

       /  4th November 2016

      “He gained a Diploma of Teaching at Auckland College of Education, and completed his Masters of Commerce at Auckland University. He lectured in a tertiary institute in accounting and tax law for four years. In 1990 he became Director of South Auckland Youth for Christ.”

      Therein lies the problem with Bob McCroskie. His religious affiliation should be cited with every report on his views, because you can bet his religious bias underlies every comment he makes, on this subject anyway.


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