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Frequently Asked Questions


Frequently Asked Questions


The Investigation and the Law


What is this investigation about?

The investigation is asking for people’s views about “ending one’s life in New Zealand”. It’s about suicide, suicide prevention and whether it should be legal to encourage or help someone else to commit suicide. The Committee is asking for people’s comments on these points, called the terms of reference. In this interview Chairperson Simon O’Connor explained the Committee’s approach.

Why is this investigation being held?

The investigation is in response to a petition presented by Hon Maryan Street and the Voluntary Euthanasia Society. The petition asked for an investigation into public attitudes about changing the law on assisted suicide. The Committee decided to conduct a broad investigation within the context of suicide. See here for more background.

What is currently legal in New Zealand?

It’s not a crime to end one’s own life (suicide). However, it is illegal to intentionally end someone else’s life. It’s also illegal to help someone else end their life (assisted suicide). See here for more information about the current legal situation.

Will this investigation result in a law change?

No, the investigation will not result in a law change, because submissions are not being requested on a specific bill that’s before Parliament. The Health Select Committee will only write a report with recommendations for Parliament to consider.

Are suicide and “assisted dying” different issues?

Suicide is a person intentionally ending their own life. Assisted suicide is a person ending their own life with the help of someone else. “Assisted dying” is a euphemism for assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia. See here for quotes about suicide and assisted suicide and information about depression and terminal illness.

Where can I find information on suicide statistics and suicide prevention?

See here for more information on suicide in New Zealand.

The Submission Process


What is a submission?

A submission is a letter about specific points, called the terms of reference. It’s an opportunity to present your opinions, observations and recommendations to a Parliamentary Select Committee.


May I use a language other than English?

You may also use Māori or sign language. If you have accessibility needs, contact Charlotte Yeabsley, the Clerk of the Committee, at 04 817 9079 or health@parliament.govt.nz.


What is the submission process?

The first step was to send in a written submission. In this submission you had the opportunity to say whether you also want to speak to the Committee. The Clerk of the Committee will contact people to arrange suitable times. There are more details about the process on this  flow diagram.

Who are the members of the Health Select Committee?

Here is a list of the nine members of the Health Select Committee. David Seymour has been added as a non-voting member.



Will my submission be made public?

Submissions are usually published on the Parliamentary website. Usually the public are allowed to hear submitters  speak to the Committee also. If you need yours to be private, contact Charlotte Yeabsley, the Clerk of the Committee at 04 817 9079 or health@parliament.govt.nz.


Oral Submissions


What is an oral submission? Why is it recommended?

Oral submissions involve speaking to the Health Select Committee for up to 5 minutes (as an individual) and for up to 15 minutes (as an organisation), in addition to making a written submission. Oral submissions may have more impact than written submissions. When you speak to the Committee it gives you the opportunity to add more information. It also gives the Committee the opportunity to clarify something with you.


Would I need to travel to Wellington to speak to the Committee?

Not necessarily. If you can’t travel to Wellington, say so when contacted by the Clerk. The Committee may decide to travel to a town or city near you, depending on the number of submissions they have received from that area. They may also hear submitters by telephone or via the internet.


Where can I find more tips and help to prepare for my oral submission?

Here are more information about the oral submission process and some general tips. If you would like help with preparing for your oral submission, you are welcome to email us a copy of your written submission, your name, phone number, and the date of your oral submission if known.


My question is not listed here.

Email us at info@suicideinquiry.nz or phone 0800 4 AROHA (0800 42 76 42).