Jacobs Journal of Psychiatry and Behavioural Science

Suicidality–Medical Care and Treatment in a Legal Perspective-A Question of Suicide Prevention

Published on: 2014-04-18


The present work is enquiring into the legal implications of suicide and suicidality in Swedish health and medical legislation. Most people taking their own lives have been in contact with medical care before committing suicide, most commonly with psychiatric care or with general practitioners. Can it be argued that medical law is also concerned with preventing suicide as far as possible, just as traffic safety law is concerned with reducing the number of traffic deaths? The ethical principles underpinning good healthcare include not only the principle of self-determination but also the principle of maximising good and the principle of minimising harm. Can a teleological interpretation of the meaning, scope and legal effects of the medical law enactments be said to show a preventive purpose? Furthermore, why does not the Swedish compulsory psychiatric regulation (LPT) have the general stated purpose of protecting a mentally ill person from self-destructiveacts endangering the own life, while retaining the purpose of protecting others from that person’s aggressive acts? The material used in answering the topics of enquiry now stated comprises material from courts of law and from public authorities. Concurrently with the legal case material, however, I also present the results of an interview survey. The case material has also been supplemented with a questionnaire study aimed at canvassing the view taken by medical science of the content of the three basic LPT concepts of “serious mental disturbance”, “imperative need of care” and “absence of consent” in a suicide situation.


Suicide; Suicidality; Suicide Prevention; Principle of Self-Determination; Principle of Maximising Good; Principle of Minimising Harm; The Health and Medical Services Act(HSL); The Patient Safety Act(PSL); Compulsory Psychiatric Care Act(LPT)