What are the current laws on assisted suicide in the UK?

After cancer sufferer Bob Cole told ITV News that right-to-die laws in the UK must change before he chose to end his life, we take a look at the current legal position.

What is assisted suicide?

  • Assisted suicide is when someone deliberately assists or encourages another person to kill themselves

What is the current legal position in the UK?

  • Euthanasia and assisted suicide are illegal under English law

  • The Suicide Act 1961 makes it a criminal offence in England and Wales to:

  • Anyone caught doing so could face up to 14 years in prison

  • The law is almost identical in Northern Ireland

  • Campaigners in Scotland argue the law there lacks clarity

  • An Assisted Dying Bill was rejected by the Scottish Parliament in May

How does the UK's law compare to other countries?

Assisted suicide is currently only legal in:

  • Belgium

  • Holland

  • Luxembourg

  • Switzerland

  • US states of Washington and Oregon

Are there any plans to change the law in the UK?

  • Lord Falconer's Assisted Dying Bill is due to be debated in the House of Commons on September 11

  • If passed, it would allow doctors in England and Wales to end the life of a terminally ill and mentally competent patient with less than six months to live

  • Two independent doctors would have to sign a declaration that the person had made a decision to die

  • The patient would then administer the drugs themselves while in the company of a health professional

  • The heath professional will not be allowed to administer the medicine

What do pro-assisted dying campaigners say?

And opponents?

What does the British Medical Association (BMA) say?