Dutch euthanasia clinic saw an “alarming” 22% rise in suicide requests last year

By SPUC—the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children

A Dutch euthanasia clinic has revealed that the figure of 3,122 requests for assisted suicide it received in 2019 was “far more than expected” as the Netherlands struggles to meet increasing “demand.”

The Euthanasia Expertise Centre, the Netherlands’ only euthanasia clinic, assisted in around 900 suicides last year, and received a record number of requests. The marked acceleration in euthanasia cases has mostly been related to a shift in “demographics,” since dementia amongst the old is now listed as a major cause for seeking death.

In 2002, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalise euthanasia. Since then, an average of 5,000 Dutch citizens have been killed as a result.

Although Dutch law states that a candidate may be eligible if they are facing “unbearable and endless suffering”, and have asked to die “earnestly and with full conviction,” the Netherlands’ lax suicide laws have been under the spotlight in recent years – with SPUC reporting on unsettling accounts of euthanasia in the region.

Many euthanasia cases have been made up of the elderly, with reasons for suicide including dementia and “advanced age,” indicating that those advanced in years might account for much of the stated 22% rise in suicide requests. The old have not escaped the life-denying spirit that has swept over the West, it seems, and euthanasia appears indicative of the failure to develop an adequate ethic of care, rather than of disposability, for the most vulnerable in society.

 “It is sad that people see death as the solution to their problems and alarming because this is how people start to think once euthanasia has been legalized,”  Antonia Tully, of the SPUC Lives Worth Living Campaign, remarked.

“Here in the UK, we need to make sure that we don’t make the same mistake. We must oppose every move to legalise assisted suicide. That would be the first tragic step towards creating a culture where sick, disabled or mentally ill people feel their best option in life is to die.”

In the Netherlands there has been a dramatic rise in the number of assisted deaths, to such an extent that the Euthanasia Expertise Centre has new vacancies to meet the increased demand. Steven Plieter, Director of the Centre said: “We have openings on all fronts, for doctors, psychiatrists and nurses”

Assisted suicide threat in the UK

 A debate on assisted suicide in the UK was held in Parliament in January 2020, brought forward by MP Christine Jardine. The majority of MPs who spoke in the debate called for the protection of the vulnerable against suicide.

On 25 February, SPUC will be hosting an event for MPs – Palliative care not assisted suicide – in the House of Commons. Palliative care specialist Dominic Whitehouse will be speaking about caring for dying patients and why assisted suicide should not be legalised.

SPUC encourages supporters to contact their MP and ask them to attend the event