John Libbey Eurotext

Sciences sociales et santé


Assisted suicide on trial: The Swiss model faced with requests from people with psychiatric disorders Volume 36, issue 4, Décembre 2018

* Anthony Stavrianakis, anthropologue, CNRS, Laboratoire d’ethnologie et de sociologie comparative (LESC), UMR 7186, Maison René Ginouvès (MAE), 21 allée de l’Université, 92023, Nanterre
  • Key words: assisted suicide, norms, psychiatry, social action, trial
  • DOI : 10.1684/sss.2018.0126
  • Page(s) : 93-117
  • Published in: 2018

In Switzerland, assisted suicide developed outside of medical and juridical spaces, through activist associations. In the 1990s, intense confrontations between associations and the medico-administrative authorities led to the adoption of a moratorium on assisted suicide for people with mental disorders. It is in this context that a criminal trial was instituted against the psychiatrist Peter Baumann who broke this moratorium by helping an individual, Andreas U, to put an end to his life. The article highlights the heterogeneity of the positions of the actors involved in this case in terms of assessing Andreas U's capacity for discernment, the nature of the assessment made by Baumann, and the legitimacy of his actions. Through the study of the transformations of judgments rendered, from the first instance to the cantonal Parliament, the article illuminates tensions within the Swiss model of assisted suicide.