Rationalising Suicide

Life, death, liberty, and the state.

Michael Irwin is an ex-GP and former Medical Director of the United Nations. He is a humanist and secular activist, who, since 2005, has sponsored the National Secular Society's £5000 Secularist of the Year award, known as the Irwin Prize. He is a prominent campaigner for voluntary euthanasia.

We asked him about the relationship between the state and the individual in matters of life, death, and liberty.          


The government often takes measures to keep us from self-harm, but is this a violation of liberal principles?

Of course not. Four other European countries – Belgium, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and Switzerland – have the right attitudes. Their governments have adopted good right-to-die laws, which I believe should be applied to the UK.

Is the state too overbearing or is the balance between freedom and protection just right?

In the UK today, in gen

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