More Patients in the Netherlands Ask to Die by Assisted Suicide



Doctors in the Netherlands helped kill 4.5 percent of all the people who died in the country in 2015, according to a recent review.

The data published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows more people are requesting physician-assisted death, and doctors are more willing to grant their requests. In 1990, just 1.7 percent of deaths in the Netherlands came through euthanasia or assisted suicide.

To receive a lethal injection or have a doctor prescribe life-ending pills, people from the Netherlands don’t need to have a terminal illness but must be “suffering unbearably.” Most of the people whom doctors helped die were elderly and had health problems, with an increasing number of people without terminal illnesses.

Lead author Dr. Agnes Van der Heide of Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam said doctor-assisted death is becoming more commonplace: “When assisted dying is becoming the more normal option at the end of life, there is a risk people will feel more inclined to ask for it.”

Of those who died in 2015, 8 percent requested doctor-assisted death. Doctors granted more than half those requests, up from about one-third in years past.

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