More requests for specialist help made to euthanasia centre
A special centre set up to help people whose doctors are unwilling or unable to help them with a euthanasia request was involved in carrying out 1,240 assisted deaths last year.
The figure is a rise of 11% on 2021, the Expertisecentrum Euthanasie said on Thursday. The number of requests for help rose to 4,159, meaning around one third of requests were honoured, a percentage which has been stable for years.
Experts suggest more people are requesting euthanasia because the practice has become better established and babyboomers consider it important to decide themselves about when to die.
‘More than half the requests come from people who are over the age of 70 and 60% are made by women,’ centre director Sonja Kersten said.
Around one fifth of the requests made to the clinic involved people with psychiatric problems, a lower figure than in recent years. In total, 90 of these 781 requests were honoured.
‘This is a developing field and policy is slowly being developed to cover euthanasia and psychiatric institutions,’ Kersten said. ‘In the meantime, we are looking at how we can improve our procedures and continue to look for psychiatrists who want to work with us.’
National figures covering all euthanasia deaths will be published next month. In 2021, 7,666 people died via euthanasia and the annual figure has also been rising at around 10% a year.
Euthanasia now accounts for around 5% of deaths in the Netherlands and around two thirds involve cancer patients.
Under Dutch law euthanasia can only be granted at the request of the patient, if a physician agrees that they are suffering intolerably with no prospect of relief and a second, independent doctor agrees.
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