Dealing with the various forms of suicidality has always been one of the most discussed ethical issues. In 2014 and 2017, the German Ethics Council also dealt with some aspects of this topic issuing two Ad hoc Recommendations. They focused on the regulation of assisted suicide on the one hand and suicide prevention on the other. The Federal Constitutional Court’s judgement of 26 February 2020, which declared the prohibition of assisted suicide services (§  217 of the Criminal Code [Strafgesetzbuch – StGB]) unconstitutional, rekindled the debate not only among experts but also in the wider public. Critics of the judgement claim, among other things, that it neglects the protection of life for the sake of an ideal of free self-determination, which they say is, in and of itself, disputable and not applicable to a large number of suicidal actions.

Against this background, the working group on the topic of “suicide” would like to foster a more nuanced debate and examine the different categories and constellations of death and suicide wishes as well as their embedding in the complex phenomenon of suicidality. Based on the clarification of the meanings and interrelationships of central concepts such as freedom, autonomy, self-determination and responsibility, the aim is moreover to elaborate under which conditions a suicidal action is to be considered fully responsible  and how this might be operationalised.

Working group

  • Steffen Augsberg
  • Petra Bahr
  • Franz-Josef Bormann
  • Helmut Frister (Chair of the group)
  • Elisabeth Gräb-Schmidt
  • Andreas Kruse
  • Volker Lipp
  • Andreas-Lob-Hüdepohl (Vice-Chair of the group)
  • Annette Riedel
  • Frauke Rostalski