Switzerland: 26% increase in assisted suicide deaths in 2014

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair – Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

People interested in learning about assisted suicide visit an information stand for the Swiss organisation Exit (Keystone)

People interested in learning about assisted suicide visit an information stand for the Swiss organisation Exit
(Keystone)

The Swiss media are reporting that, according to the Federal Statistical Office, the number of assisted suicide deaths increased by 26% in 2014 from the year before. The 742 assisted suicide deaths represents more than 2.5 times as many as five years previously.

Swissinfo.ch reported:

In the latest statistics, assisted suicide accounted for 1.2% of all deaths in Switzerland that year.

Men and women were nearly equally represented in the assisted suicide numbers, with ten out of 100,000 men and nine out of 100,000 women choosing to die in that way when spread out over Switzerland’s resident population.

In 42% of cases, assisted suicides followed illnesses caused by cancer. Neurodegenerative disorders led to 14% of assisted suicides, followed by cardiovascular illnesses at 11% and musculoskeletal maladies at 10%.

The Exit suicide clinic reported a 34% increase in 2015–from 583 to 782 assisted suicide deaths. The report indicated that of the assisted suicide deaths, 55% were women and 45% men in 2015. Deaths from the other Swiss suicide clinics remain unknown.

The Swiss assisted suicide statistics indicate that when assisted suicide is culturally accepted, the number of deaths continually increase and the reasons for assisted suicide continually expand.

In April 2013, Pietro D’Amico, a 62-year-old magistrate from Calabria Italy, died by assisted suicide at a suicide clinic in Basel Switzerland. His autopsy showed that he had a wrong diagnosis.

In February 2014, Oriella Cazzanello, an 85-year-old healthy woman died at a Swiss suicide clinic. The letter she sent her family stated that she was unhappy about how she looked.

In May 2014, the Exit suicide clinic extended assisted suicide to healthy elderly people who live with physical or psychological pain. This decision has led to an increase in assisted deaths.

A 2014 Swiss assisted suicide study found that 16% of people who died at Swiss suicide clinics had no underlying illness.

In August 2015 a healthy depressed British woman died by assisted suicide in Switzerland.

Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog.