The Human Right to Suicide under International Law

Abstract

Suicide is a major global public health problem, but rarely is the subject viewed as a human right. With the sole exception of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), no international authority has taken a strong position on whether a human right to suicide exists. Even that court’s jurisprudence goes no further than intimating that such a right falls within the scope of the human right to private life. This essay tackles the question of whether there is a human right to suicide under existing international law and, if so, what are its sources and limits. It concludes with an analysis of what obligations, both negative and positive, a right to suicide would impose on the state.