The distinction between suicide and a rational decision to end suffering was clearly understood by New York’s chief medical examiner, Charles Hirsch, when investigating the deaths of office workers who jumped from the Twin Towers on 9/11. Faced with a terrible choice – a slow, agonising death by fire, or a quick death by jumping – many chose to jump. Seeing this as a rational choice to avoid needless suffering, Hirsch refused to classify their deaths as ‘suicides’. Assisted dying is not a choice between life and death. It is the choice of a terminally ill person about the manner and timing of their death (which is imminent and inevitable) and the suffering that must be endured.
This difference was underlined by the WA Parliamentary Committee investigating end-of-life choices: "It is important not to conflate suicide with assisted dying. It is possible to distinguish temporary suicidal ideation from an enduring, considered and rational decision to end one’s life in the face of unbearable suffering".