Warning on suicidal patients

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The Independent Online
Doctors are warned today against trying to save the lives of overdose patients, who want to die. People who attempt suicide must not be helped, unless they have given permission for efforts to save them to go ahead, the Drug and Therapeutic Bulletin said.

Every year, around 100,000 patients arrive at hospital after deliberately harming themselves, but only those who are unconscious on admission can automatically be treated for poisoning, says the Bulletin, a Which?-style guide for doctors, published by the Consumers' Association.

Dr Joe Collier, the editor, said the ethical requirement on doctors to respect the sanctity of life had altered in the last 10 years, and greater weight was now given to the need for the patient to consent to treatment. By law, the patient's right to decide supersedes the sanctity of life and any doctor acting without consent risks being charged with trespass and battery.