The number of people opting to die by euthanasia rose by 13% last year to 4,188, according to the five regional committees charged with ensuring the legal conditions for assisted suicide are met.
Euthanasia requests have risen steadily since 2006 when 1,923 people applied for assisted suicide.
Researchers have been unable to determine why the number of cases is rising, but say they suspect it is due to greater acceptance of euthanasia by both patients and doctors.
A large majority of last year’s requests came from people with cancer – 3,251. In 42 cases, people with dementia were involved and 13 had severe psychiatric problems.
In just 10 cases, the committees ruled doctors had not met all the conditions for assisted suicide and involved health ministry inspectors. Two of these related to dementia patients and the difficulty of ensuring they had given informed consent.
Some 80% of people who opt for mercy killing die at home.
Euthanasia is legal in the Netherlands under strict conditions. For example, the patient must be suffering unbearable pain and the doctor must be convinced the patient is making an informed choice. The opinion of a second doctor is also required.
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