New Dutch Statistics Show Euthanasia is out of control in the Netherlands

By Alex Schadenberg, executive director
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The news today is that the number of reported euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands increased in 2011 by 18% to 3,695 and that there were 13 reported euthanasia deaths for psychiatric reasons, up from two in 2010.

Euthanasia for psychiatric patients in the Netherlands will likely increase substantially over the next few years in response to a Dutch article published last year in the Journal of Psychiatry advocating for the expansion of euthanasia for psychiatric patients.

As bad as these statistics may seem they only tell part of the story.

On July 11, 2012, The Lancet published the long awaited meta-analysis study. It dealt with the practice of euthanasia and end-of-life practices in the Netherlands in 2010 with a comparison to previous studies that were done in 2005, 2001, 1995, and 1990.

The Lancet study indicated that in 2010, 23% of all euthanasia deaths were not reported. The Lancet study found, however, that while there were 3,136 reported euthanasia deaths, in fact there were actually 3,859 euthanasia deaths and 192 assisted suicide deaths in the Netherlands.

Based on approximately 23% not being reported, we can estimate that in 2011, the number of actual euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands was not 3,695 but more likely 4,544.

Further to that, it is important to note that in 2010 there were 192 assisted suicide deaths in the Netherlands that are not counted within the official euthanasia statistics. Since the number of euthanasia deaths increased by 18% from 2010 to 2011, it is likely that the number of assisted suicide deaths also increased by 18%, meaning that there were probably 226 assisted suicide deaths in the Netherlands in 2011.

Therefore, the total number of assisted deaths is likely 4,770 (4,544 + 226).

It is also important to recognize that the number of reported euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands increased by 19% in 2010 and 13% in 2009.

There were 1,923 reported euthanasia deaths in 2006.

There were 2,120 reported euthanasia deaths in 2007.

There were 2,331 reported euthanasia deaths in 2008.

There were 2,636 reported euthanasia deaths in 2009.

There were 3,136 reported euthanasia deaths in 2010.

There are    3,695 reported euthanasia deaths in 2011.

The rate of deep-continuous sedation has also been rising by astronomical rates in the Netherlands.

The 2001 euthanasia report indicated that approximately 5.6% of all deaths in the Netherlands were related to deep-continuous sedation. The 2005 euthanasia report indicates that approximately 8.2% of all deaths in the Netherlands were related to deep-continuous sedation. The 2010 euthanasia report indicates that approximately 12.3% of all euthanasia deaths are related to deep-continuous sedation.

The rate of deep-continuous sedation has more than doubled in the Netherlands since 2001 and has risen by 50% since 2005.

There is a growing concern about the abuse of the guidelines for terminal sedation in the Netherlands.

How often are deaths by deep-continuous sedation actually a euthanasia death?

Combined with the growth in the use of terminal sedation for people who are not otherwise dying (“slow euthanasia”) and the slight increase in the number of unreported euthanasia deaths, one must conclude that there are abuses occurring in the Netherlands.

On March 1, 2012, a euthanasia clinic in the Netherlands launched six mobile euthanasia teams. The euthanasia lobby in the Netherlands (the NVVE) announced that they anticipate that the mobile euthanasia teams would complete 1,000 euthanasia deaths per year.

The mobile euthanasia teams plan to fill unmet demand for euthanasia for people with chronic depression (mental pain), people with disabilities, people with dementia/Alzheimer, loneliness, and those whose request for euthanasia is declined by their physician. In 2010 45% of all euthanasia requests resulted in death by euthanasia.

Legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide is not safe and the safeguards that are devised to control euthanasia will only protect the doctor and not those who die by euthanasia.

I wonder why there are no prosecutions for deaths without request or consent in the Netherlands?