LRC poses decriminalising suicide

| 19/08/2019 | 29 Comments

(CNS): The Law Reform Commission has published a discussion paper asking the public to submit their comments on the decriminalisation of suicide, which many people may be surprised to learn is still an offence in the Cayman Islands. The paper follows a referral via the Attorney General from the Alex Panton Foundation, a mental health charity, proposing a change to the law.

This paper examines the current statutory provisions on suicide and makes recommendations for its decriminalisation because treatment, rather than prosecution, is obviously the appropriate and recommended response for a person struggling with a mental health crisis.

The commission pointed out that every 40 seconds a person dies by suicide somewhere in the world and many more attempts are made as a result of mental health disorders and depression. People who attempt suicide are in need of help rather than punishment, but the law creates a barrier to people seeking appropriate treatment.

Suicide remains the second leading cause of death globally among young people between 15 and 29 years of age. A recent national survey of all children and youth at Cayman Islands public and private schools, including the University College of the Cayman Islands students, by the National Drug Council and the Alex Panton Foundation revealed the rates of suicide are rising in Cayman among children and young people, with one in three children reporting suicidal thoughts and another 13% having attempted to take their own lives.

With only 5% of those children and young people at risk actually seeking help, the foundation believes that decriminalising suicide would help remove the barriers and safeguard the rights of the people with mental illness as well as help address the mental health needs in our society.

Most other progressive Commonwealth countries, such as the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, as well as Europe have abolished the crime of attempted suicide and the WHO is promoting the removal of attempting suicide from the criminal code. Countries that retain it as a crime rarely, if ever, prosecute, which is the case in Cayman, where there are no reported cases of prosecution being brought.

Stakeholders and members of the general public are invited to comment on the issues identified in the paper and submit their views on the draft bills presented for discussion.

See the discussion paper and draft bills below. Copies can also be collected from the Offices of the Commission.

Submissions should be sent by 21 October to the Director of the Law Reform Commission, 4th Floor Government Administration Building, Portfolio of Legal Affairs, 133 Elgin Avenue, George Town, Grand Cayman, P.O. Box 136, Grand Cayman KY1-9000 or via email to

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Category: Health, Mental Health

Comments (29)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    So one is chronically ill. His life is reduced to handouts, for he can’t work; loneliness and social isolation, for life goes on for others. He is homebound and rarely steps outside. Modern medicine can only treat acute conditions. It has nothing to offer to those with chronic diseases.
    He is perfectly sane, doesn’t want to die, but has no reasons for existence as there is no end to suffering. He could be 18, like Christina Tournant from Florida or 65 like Robin Williams, but who in their right mind would judge them, let alone prosecute for an attempted suicide?
    Why so much obsession with life? Each case is different, but unless you walked in someone’s shoes, you have no business in judging them. Saving someone’s life doesn’t mean reviving them. It means helping them find reasons to live for, be by their side when they most need it. It is easy to run, walk and swim for cancer, MS, whatever, it is much harder to remember about real people who suffer.
    When last time did you bring that freshly cooked meal to a lonely neighbor? Did you even notice that he hardly ever steps outside? Did you offer to take him to a doctor? Do you even know he needs help? Did you take to him to the beach, even if for a few minutes? Did you buy him a good, humorous book?
    Saving life is not calling 911 or administering CPR. It starts long before it got to that critical point.
    Lastly, death is part of living. No one escapes it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Do we have any statistics on people that survive suicide and have been arrested?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Please do not make criminals out of people who commit or attempt suicide. It is the right thing to do for everyone concerned. This is a no brainer!

  4. Anonymous says:

    That law obviously deters people from committing murder and making it look like suicide just for the insurance money. Because if you commit suicide, the Government can take all assets of that person.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Surely they are decriminalising attempted suicide?

    Arresting someone who has successfully committed suicide is pretty pointless, although improves the solved crime statistics

  6. Anonymous says:

    just get it done. copy what the uk has done.
    complete waste of time.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Does an attempted suicide show on a person’s police record if they apply for a police clearance? If so then all it is achieving is giving a person more incentive to be successful in an attempt.

  8. Food_For_Thought says:

    Decriminalizing suicide may not be the answer some are looking for an it has nothing to do with Christianity. Correct me if I am wrong; by suicide being an offense it allows for the authorities to hold suicidal people for a specific period of time. It is possible that whilst under supervision / detainment the person suffering with this mental illness will have time to realize there are alternative methods of dealing with their problems. If it is decriminalized and they are not able to hold a person, it may simply mean that person will not have the opportunity to reconsider…

  9. Anonymous says:

    Dragging Cayman’s penal code into the 20th century bit by bit .

  10. Anonymous says:

    As usual 50 years behind the rest of civilized world.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Suicide was decriminalised in the UK in 1961. This just shows how far behind the times some of our laws are.

  12. Anonymous says:

    The change of guard at the Law Reform Commission is refreshing.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Every death is a suicide. The difference is speed.

    • Anonymous says:

      Nice to see the Law Reform Comission getting in the way of our Christian values. Is there anything that is truly Caymanian anymore?

      • Anonymous says:

        There is still the wanton melodrama left.

      • Anonymous says:

        I didnt know it was “Christian” to punish someone for a lifetime of suffering because they dont want to live. Youre really making me consider giving up on religion altogether now.

      • Anonymous says:

        Nepotism, entitlement, homophobia….Need I go on?

      • Anonymous says:

        Seriously wish you Christians would just keep your religion in your churches and out of the Legislative Assembly and courts.

        And I say this to you as an ex-Christian who exercises their constitutional right to freedom from religion.

        Something you fail to understand when you send your duos out on the street to remind me that I deserve to burn forever because I didn’t pay offering this week.


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