Assisted Suicide Position Paper; Key Updates and Literature Review – October 2020

In 2017, the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland brought together representatives from a range of medical specialities within RCPI, including Geriatric Medicine, Neurology, Palliative Medicine, Respiratory Medicine, Rehabilitation Medicine, and Psychiatry, to review the matter of Assisted Suicide. The group reviewed arguments on both sides of the debate and examined international evidence from jurisdictions where assisted suicide had been introduced. The group also looked at the positions of medical professional bodies throughout the world on this issue.

The group considered the arguments and the literature in the context of RCPI’s emphasis on principles of medical ethics in medical training and the Medical Council’s Guide on Professional Medical Conduct and Ethics for Registered Medical Practitioners.

Following careful consideration of the evidence RCPI published a position paper on Assisted Suicide in December 2017. The paper states RCPI's position on the topic:

  • RCPI officially opposes the introduction of any legislation supportive of assisted suicide because it is contrary to best medical practice.
  • That RCPI promotes a considered and compassionate approach to caring for, and proactively meeting the needs and concerns of patients who may be approaching the end of their life.
  • That RCPI would as a body promote adherence to the Medical Council’s current Guide on Professional Medical Conduct and Ethics for Registered Medical Practitioners guidance on

In October 2020, the paper was updated, by the original working group which drafted the 2017 paper, to include key updates and a literature review. The updated version can be viewed below.

The group is chaired by Dr. Feargal Twomey, Consultant in Palliative Medicine.

Members of the working group:

  • Dr Feargal Twomey, Consultant in Palliative Medicine, Milford Hospice & UL Hospitals, University Hospital Limerick.
  • Dr Shaun O’Keefe, Consultant in Geriatric Medicine at Merlin Park Hospital Galway.
  • Dr Regina McQuillan, Medical Director of St Francis Hospice and Consultant in Palliative Medicine at St Francis Hospice and Beaumont Hospital
  • Dr Siobhan MacHale, Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist, Dept of Psychiatry, Beaumont Hospital & Senior Lecturer RCSI
  • Dr Raymond Carson, Consultant in Rehabilitation Medicine at the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital / Clinical Lecturer at University College Dublin
  • Prof Des O’Neill, Consultant in Geriatric Medicine, Tallaght University Hospital
  • Prof Michael Keane, Consultant Respiratory Physician, St Vincent’s University Hospital
  • Dr Diarmuid O’Shea, Consultant in Geriatric Medicine, St Vincent’s University Hospital

Assisted Suicide Position Paper; Key Updates and Literature Review - October 2020

Published October 2020

Assisted Suicide – Position Paper

Published December 2017

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