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BBC Newsnight Assisted Suicide Poll

 A public opinion poll on behalf of BBC Newsnight.

Date Published: 12 Jun 2011

Categories: Health | Public and communities | Public Sector | Social | UK


 A Newsnight poll suggests British adults are split on whether family and medical professionals should face prosecution if they help people who won’t die from their condition but are physically incapable of committing suicide.

A random sample of one thousand adults were asked to consider scenarios around assisted dying for both people with terminal illnesses and for those with painful, incurable conditions that will not kill them. 

If a person with an incurable and painful illness or condition from which they will not die, wants to commit suicide but is physically incapable of doing so, 46 percent of those asked felt a family member or close friend should be allowed by law to help them end their life without fear of prosecution; 45 percent disagreed.

When asked to consider a person with a painful illness or condition from which they will die 69 percent of people felt a family member or close friend should be allowed to help them end their life with out fear of prosecution, if they were physically incapable. This compares to 73 percent of people asked in January 2010.

The survey was commissioned ahead of tonight’s special programme ‘Choosing to Die: Newsnight Debate’ on BBC Two 10pm. Jeremy Paxman speaks to Terry Pratchett about his BBC documentary, and a panel of studio guests debate the controversial issues surrounding assisted dying.

The survey was undertaken by Comres and compared with a survey using the same questions carried out by the company in January 2010. Rhe full data is available at

Methodology note:
ComRes interviewed 1000 GB adults by telephone between 10th and 12th June 2011.  Data were weighted to be representative of all adults by gender, age group, social class and region.  ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.  

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