Belgium reported euthanasia deaths rise. At least 50 people die by euthanasia for mental illness in 2021. 

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

On March 31, the Belgian Commission for the Control and Evaluation of Euthanasia published their 2021 euthanasia data. 

In reporting on the Commission’s data, the European Institute of Bioethics (EIB) stated that the number of reported euthanasia deaths increased to 2,699 from 2,444 in 2020.

The EIB reported that at least 50 people died by euthanasia for mental illness which was more than double from the 2020 report  where there were 21 euthanasia deaths for mental illness.

The EIB reported that studies indicate that at least 25% – 35% of the euthanasia deaths are not reported and therefore illegal. Previous studies also indicate that approximately 2% of all euthanasia deaths are done without request or consent.

In 2019 Europe’s top human rights court, agreed to hear the case of a depressed Belgian woman who died by euthanasia and in 2018 three Belgian doctors were charged in a euthanasia death for psychiatric reasons.

The three doctors were acquitted in the euthanasia death, but in September 2020 a retrial was ordered for one of the doctors in the case. The retrial was heard in May 2021.

In May 2021, Belgium’s euthanasia law was criticized at the UN Human Rights Council.

In November 2021 a Belgian doctor was accused of doing an unlawful euthanasia death.